It has been a long road but Ubisoft has finally released Splinter Cell: Conviction. The stealth-espionage game starring Sam Fisher returns with a new approach to its stealth action gameplay. Sam is not a hobo, but he retains his level of badass-ness even without his night vision googles or the Third Echelon. Sam isn’t the only one that has changed. Ubisoft drops some of those annoying and complicating elements people don’t like about previous Splinter Cell games. Conviction keeps the stealth and ups the ante with more action and faster gameplay. The new Splinter Cell formula works and for my money it’s better than the previous.
Splinter Cell games in the past have mainly been about the story and you complete that story with Sam Fisher. In Conviction, you take the role of Sam yet again but now the story is much more personal to Sam. He murdered his friend/boss, Adam Lambert, and his daughter was murdered, making Sam very dark. As Sam is seeking his revenge he gets sucked back into the world of espionage due to some turn of events that would spoil everything. No, Conviction is not a simple revenge tale. It has depth, attitude, and is entertaining. All thanks to a more grimy Sam Fisher; revenge will do that to people. The only problem here is that it all comes to an end so quickly. You’ll be wanting more and that’s where the co-op story comes to play. You and a friend can tackle on a separate co-op story mode that spans across four new maps. Although it was fun to have a separate co-op story, the lack of actual team work abilities between two spies was disappointing. The only thing we did together was pry open a door and ask to be revived once you’re downed.
Splinter Cell: Conviction makes some much needed adjustments to the gameplay making it less campy and slow and more Jason Bourne meets Sam Fisher like. To start, Conviction is now a stealth game if you make it a stealth game. No more having to wait and wait for an enemy to make a move first, and being caught is no problem. That is not to say that guns blazing always saves the day but the game is definitely more lenient to the player who is impatient. Weaponry and gadgets have also received a nice little upgrade. As you progress the campaign, you will unlock weapons and gadgets that you can use and swap out at different weapon stashes in the levels. Every gun and gadget can also be upgraded with experience points that you earn for completing challenges.
The more noticeable addition to the gameplay is the Mark & Execute feature. Mark & Execute allows you to mark a certain number of enemies (depending on the weapon) and executes anyone marked and within sight, automatically. Mark & Execute can only be earned after you perform a hand-to-hand kill and even with that stipulation I still found it a bit cheap. Yet, I still used it plenty of times just because it was cool to look at. Another feature is Last Known Position, which creates a ghost at your last known position according to the enemy AI. This helps trick the enemy into thinking you’re somewhere you’re not, allowing you the opportunity to flank. Ubisoft added a little something for the stealthy player and made it easier to stomach for those who dreaded Splinter Cell for its slow gameplay.
Conviction does offer some multiplayer modes and unfortunately the classic Spies Vs. Mercs is not included. The multiplayer in Conviction is all about the duo (2 players) and spans across the four co-op maps and a few modes. Hunter is a mode in which you and your teammate must take out all the enemies in an area to advance to the next part of the map. Stealth is the key in this game mode, being caught will only alert more enemies. Last Stand is a horde type mode where you will go up against wave after wave of enemies. Not only do you have to deal with enemies but you must also keep an EMP Generator up and running. Killing enemies quickly as possible is key. This was probably my favorite of the multiplayer modes, and can be really frustrating trying to complete all 20 waves just for an achievement. Face-Off is a Spy Vs. Spy mode. You and your friend are now enemies and must take each other out. The thing is enemies still appear on the map and they don’t really care who you are, if they see you they’re shooting. As fun as this sounded to me, I found the mode to be a throwaway. The multiplayer probably won’t have long legs but if you and a friend play this together, hours of fun will ensue.
Graphically, I thought Conviction looked a bit dated. Assassin’s Creed II should not look better than this game. Texture looked real blurry and didn’t help out the characters look. I was reminded of Max Payne, in the way that textures were just pasted on the character models. I understand Conviction has been in development for such a long time so the fault mainly falls on the delays. The sounds of Conviction are well done. The music during the more intense scenes near the end were great. And of course Michael Ironside, the voice of Sam Fisher, is excellent as he reprises his role as darker version of Sam Fisher. You’ll feel the pain and anger in his voice. Excellent work from the main cast. The guys who voice the enemy AI, well they’re not in the main cast for a reason.
I enjoyed the hell out of Splinter Cell: Conviction, even after the demo put me off. It’s hard for me to say that Conviction was worth the wait because I was left wanting more and the multiplayer just isn’t enough. But I must give Ubisoft props for making an overall better Splinter Cell formula. Splinter Cell is no longer dull, I see it as more approachable to the people who were put off by earlier Splinter Cell games. Ubisoft is on the right path with Splinter Cell again, just don’t make us wait so long next time.