This is not the Splinter Cell you’ve played before. Instead of staying in the dark, crawling towards enemies to pull of that perfect execution, you’ll be running through gun battles taking out anyone in your site. This is Splinter Cell: Conviction, and its one hell of a ride!
The basic plot of Splinter Cell: Conviction is that Sam Fischer, no longer working for Third Echilon, is trying to stop Third Echilon from essentially taking over America and the rest of the world. It’s your typical action movie plot, this time set in the Splinter Cell world. The story takes from all of the previous Splinter Cell games, which barely had any story, and makes something much bigger. The story is fairly well written, but those who have never played previous Splinter Cell games, or didn’t bother with their stories will be confused for most of the game. This can be quite frustrating if you don’t pay close attention to everything. What doesn’t help is that you cannot pause cut scenes, even when going to the mini XMB menu.
The best part is how the developers crafted a story that fit the style of gameplay perfectly. In order to throw stealth to the back-burner, they needed Sam away from Third Echilon. If Sam was stilling working for Third Echilon, the gameplay just would not work. Love it or hate it, the story fits the gamplay perfectly.
In the game, you play as Sam Fischer, the main character from all previous Splinter Cell games. He’s very similar to how he was in the previous games, just more pissed off. The other major character in the game is ‘Grim’ a former Third Echilon collegue of Sam’s. Throughout the game, Sam is guided by Grim as they communicate via cell phone and a bluetooth receiver that Same wears.
The AI of the NPC’s in the game is great for the most part. After a few attempts at a single area, the AI will learn what you’ve already done, and change their formation. Like in previous Splinter Cell games, the AI will be alerted if they find a body, or hear a significant amount of noise. One of Splinter Cell: Convictions biggest over sights is the fact that they removed the ability to pick up and move bodies. The AI in the game is also very mold able. If they see Sam, a ‘ghost’ of you character will appear where they saw you, and they will continue to attack that spot until they see you again. This can be looked at as a flaw in the AI, but it’s actually a clever way the developers added in an extra level of stealth. When the enemies go after you ‘ghost’, it leaves the perfect opportunity for Sam to swing around and attack them from behind. Some great strategies can be constructed from this.
In previous Splinter Cell games, the gameplay was focus on stealth. In Splinter Cell: Conviction, stealth takes a back seat to the intense action. Instead of preying on your enemies silently in dark corridors, Sam will be scurrying behind cover, shooting at anything he sees, à la Gears of War. The cover mechanics work well for the most part. If you push the Left Trigger, Sam will snap to any cover near by. To move between cover, you simply aim at where you want to move to, and an arrow will appear if the cover is in reach. It is mandatory to learn how to use cover properly, as you will die if you do not learn it. The cover system isn ‘t perfect though. On more than one occasion, I found Sam getting caught between cover while trying to move, leaving him open to the enemies. This can be quite frustrating, especially when you have to go back ten or more minutes from the place where you died.
While all of this gameplay works, the developers made a decision that doesn ‘ t seem to fit. A few levels in, you enter a level that for obvious reasons, is very combat heavy. With the game being made to be part action, part stealth, this didn ‘t work because it requires all action, and no stealth. The level ends up being very clunky and frustrating, with the enemies seeming to be weaker than the rest of the game. While the level seems great on paper, it just does not fit the game.
The graphics in Splinter Cell: Conviction are fairly nice. The environments always look great, with things like reflections in puddles standing out. However, with the game running on the Unreal Engine, these won ‘t be the best graphics you ‘ve seen. Where the graphics really stood out for me was in the character models. The bodies look very nice and the faces are some of the best I ‘ve seen in a game. Overall, the graphics are nice, but certainly aren ‘t something to write home about.
The sound in Splinter Cell: Conviction fits the game very well. The in game music really sets a mood for each individual level. When an enemy has spotted you, or is close to spotting you, music starts to play which gives
you that little boost of adreneline. One big problem I had with the game was the music playing during cutscenese. For the most part, it drownded out the voices, making the cutscenes hard to follow. All of the NPCs will also talk, most of the time taunting Fischer. They ‘re fun at first, but towards the end you ‘ll wish they weren ‘t there. Most of the time they will repeat what they said again-and-again, making them sound like broken records.
With a small 5 – 6 hour camapign, it ‘s good to know that Splinter Cell: Conviction has quite a bit of replay value. Once you are done the single player campaign, you can go online and play co-op story that is a prequel to the single player campatign, or play a side game called Deniable-ops. Both can add tons of hours to your play time in Splinter Cell: Conviction. Of course, you can also play through the single player campaign again.
Splinter Cell: Conviction can be boiled down to a simple third-person action game. However, Ubisoft Montreal has made it something much greater than that. With intense action, an engrossing story, and loveable badass; Sam Fischer, this game should be played through at least once. While most will find it hard to swallow the $59.99 price tag for such a short single player campaign, the game is well worth everyon ‘s time, even if you have to wait for a price drop.
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