Review: Splinter Cell Conviction
Conviction promises to be a fresh start for the somewhat floundering Splinter Cell series. Can it come out of the shadows?
- Worth The Time?Yes
- Things LovedGreat stealth, solid narrative, approach missions how you want. Interrogations!
- Things HatedGreyscale gets irritating, gameplay could be better.
- RecommendationIt's a great stealth game and certainly a solid return to form for Splinter Cell.
- Name: Splinter Cell: Conviction
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Players: 1+
- Multiplayer: local co-op
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PC
- Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Price: R350 (PC), R700 (Xbox 360)
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
As I stealthily sneak my way towards the target, I spot 2 bogey’s ahead of me with a floodlight covering the front. I slowly mark my prey in the order that best protects me. I then execute it. With a flourish and in a blur of movements the targets are dead and I am bathed in darkness.
Splinter Cell: Conviction marks a new era for the Splinter Cell franchise, and for Sam Fisher himself. Previously we saw Sam Fisher sneaking around in high tech gear and using super gadgets with Third Echelon backing him up. We now see Sam Fisher all alone in the cold with no backup, and a really furious mindset towards the people he used to work for. The game is a big conspiracy in the making, so prepare yourself for twists and turns.
The question is what are the events that led us, or rather Sam, to this point? It seems that evidence has turned up that Third Echelon may have been behind the events that three years earlier resulted in the death of his daughter or the events around it. Convictions is built around 2 story lines: the first one is when you play in the single player and the second is the one you play in co-operative mode with a friend. After learning about this feature I was impressed as most games wouldn’t bother creating a different storyline for co-op, as they would rather have a new storyline. with new characters which we could see being used in later games — if the creators decided to use them.
An interesting addition is the over head narration done by one of Sam’s old military buddies. And as happy as I am that Sam’s got friends we have an Iraqi stage, a really nice one. But more importantly, this stage creates a very important link between Sam and his friend.
1, 2, 3 — BAM.
The story-line is exciting enough to keep you interested, and thus allowing you play until the end. The most important addition to this game is the introduction of Mark and Execute. Mark and Execute allows you to select a few targets and then execute. You fire off 1 shot for each target marked. This results in quick succession, leaving you walking through a lot of dead people. But more interestingly this addition is the ability to mark objects which will help you out. For example a light chandelier hanging above 2 guys. You do the math. You’ll now have to enter and pop the last guy for optimal killing.
Certain weapons can be upgraded to include more reflex markers allowing you to tag more people. If you can do this early in the game, I suggest that you do.
While Mark and Execute makes the game really simple, the developers have forced you to use hand-to-hand abilities to get past a few situations. This essentially stops you from walking in and blasting away before winning the game. Overall this features means you’ll be a real ninja — getting up close and personal.
The only problem when getting up close and personal sometimes is when your button doesn’t work. I mean I am going forward, I press the melee button and alas, he won’t throw his Krav Maga moves. However this usually happens once you have been spotted, meaning it might mean that they are on guard.
Am I going colour blind?
This is interesting piece of art (if we can call it that). Shadows have always played a crucial part in the Splinter Cell franchise but in previous games being in the shadows did not do anything graphics wise. Obviously you were invisible to do your thing, but that’s different. Conviction features something called Greyscale, it applies a grey shade when you are in the shadows, allowing you to know when you can walk past the enemy right next to you, or when you should not be moving an inch. Shooting lights creates a lot of area to move around in, but doing so makes the guards slightly a bit more alert and switch on their flashlights, however as long as the light does not hit you — you should be fine.
Unfortunately greyscale gets irritating as you don’t get the richness from normal graphics. I had thought they would go with the original idea of having a light blue edging around the screen which would have made those bouts in darkness a whole lot more bearable.
A fourth wall? Is there one in this game? Yes, there is but the game attempts to break it by displaying your objectives onto the walls and as you clear areas. It will throw a black and white video onto the walls for you to watch. These videos are mostly memories of the past, and past events, that are of importance.
Wasn’t he there a minute ago?
One of the many interesting additions to Sam’s arsenal of moves is something known as Last Known Position. If you did not understand what that meant then I guess I better break it down for you. If you fire a non-silenced weapon or someone spots you then a silhouette is placed over that location. Enemies will swarm to that area giving you time to flank and create opportunities to eliminate or vanish from the enemy.
Simple and effective — if used to your advantage.
How much firepower do I need?
You carry your sidearm and a secondary weapon. All of your sidearm’s — except one — can be silenced, as this is the one weapon you spend 90% of the time. Your secondary weapon is in case you blow your cover and you need to handle the crowds. Pop this bad boy out, and start spraying. There are an array of gadgets which can help you out in various of ways. You have Flash bangs, Frag grenades and an loads of EMP devices.
Between portions in the level you get access to a weapon stash and this allows you to change your load out and upgrade weapons. All weapons have 3 upgrades which either increase damage, range, reflex mark or sound. The upgrades are set so that you can only use the 3 assigned to that weapon, meaning you could not put a silencer on your AK47 or a x4 scope on your Uzi sub machine-gun.
Pull your punches
The piece of the game that caught a lot of fans attention was the bathroom interrogation scene. At many times you get to interrogate people along the way. The interrogation allows you to interact with objects to make the scene more vivid. It looks nice and all, but the objects just don’t do much except add glitter to the scene.
Will the real Sam Fisher please stand up.
If you want to prove that you are the real Sam Fisher then you need to prove your stealthy skills. You need to be able to do the P.E.C challenges. In other words, you need to complete all the challenges that are in the game. They are not easy challenges, but they are interesting,
Bring it on we stand together
Single player is not only the thing that has a story line, as said above. The co-op has its own storyline and it is a prelude to the single player events. Co-op follows Archer from Third Echelon and Kestrel from their Russian counterpart. The missions are fully centered around the co-op experience. From distracting a guard so your partner can get to him to double teaming a door to get in.
While similar to single play, co-op just seems a lot more fun.
Black Ops or Deniable Ops
You say potato I say patahto. Jokes aside, this is the where all the excitement is at. The modes can be played alone or with a partner. There are 3 modes:
- Hunter – Eliminate all the enemies in a progressive sweep of the map.
- Last stand – Defend the EMP against waves of enemies.
- Face-Off– Adversarial mode of spy versus spy, with hostile AI thrown into the mix. (2 players only)
Hunter is awesome, in that you get to test your skills as a team in how stealthy you can be. If you set an alarm off you will get almost double the amount of enemies to deal with. Always carry a nice assault rifle as you are bound to set an alarm sometime along the mission.
Last Stand is simply a mode where you defend against wave after wave of enemies. Pretty standard stuff, a couple of frag grenades and some flash bangs will take you a long way.
Face-Off, no it is not the movie, but rather a mode where you play against another spy (human) with security guards patrolling and other security devices. This makes it way more complex as you need to dodge other players and security cameras to get to the other spy.
If the game has left me with any feeling it is of one of satisfaction and the feeling that if anybody gives the game time be it a first timer or seasoned player they will both enjoy it. I thoroughly enjoyed the game and feel the game play was long enough, some people complain it is not long enough but when you think about it the Deniable Ops adds a whole lot more game play.