STAFF REVIEW of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (Xbox 360)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010.
by Scott Myers

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction Box art Back in 2002, we were first introduced to a brand new Ubisoft / Tom Clancy franchise called Splinter Cell. Nobody really knew what it was all about, but it had all the makings of a great game. It included the voice talent of well known Canadian actor, Michael Ironside, and it had the Tom Clancy branding all over it. Also, Splinter Cell didn?t have all the fame of its well-known sister title Rainbow Six, so it was a new and risky path in gaming. It wasn?t long before people fell in love with the new superhero, Sam Fisher. The game in the end received critical acclaim, and it basically put Ubisoft Montreal on the map.

Sam and I go way back, we?ve shared kills, good times and bad times; he?s basically an old friend that has come back to visit me. Welcome home my friend!
Ubisoft has done a tremendous job of keeping the series exciting and fresh. But, unfortunately Double Agent was a mixed bag of good, bad and ugly. No offense Ubisoft but, as they say? ?Out with the old and in with the new!? For those of you that have never played Tom Clancy?s Splinter Cell, the best game to compare it to is Thief, although with a military twist.

SC: Conviction has been a long time coming, with constant delays pushing the game for what seemed like nearly months or even years. The gamers were getting restless. But, the ultimate question is ?Does Conviction live up to the delays?? Read on.

Let start things off with the single player portion of the game. (Spoiler alert) Basically, Sam is pulled into this complex pile of crap by his former colleague Anna Grimsdóttír. She dangles the death of his daughter over his head like a carrot, and tells him that she?s NOT dead! Well, of course being the good father that Sam is, he is driven into the political bowels of the Third Echelon to get to the bottom of this whole thing. Our hero is extremely angry, and out to find out who?s behind the lies. The game is basically a one man army vendetta story. Let?s face it, it?s not a totally unique idea, but it fits extremely well with the series. I honestly like the anger and passion vibe of Sam on his trek to uncovering the cloudy truth.

Sam?s signature stealth suit is not present; he wears more of a ghetto, homemade stealth suit. It?s not very camouflaged, but seems to be effective. The fashion statement makes him look more like a father; kinda weird but thankfully he?s not wearing Hush Puppies.

The mission varieties in the game are quite good. They range from hard core Rambo-ish approaches to very ?walking on glass? levels. I was able to finish the single player story mode in about 5-6 hours. Some people would call that short, but there?s more to this game than a simple single player campaign. I must admit that Ubisoft has pulled out all the storytelling big guns for this title. It is such a carefully handcrafted tale, it just pulls you right in.
What was noticeably new in the game mechanics is the ?Mark and Execute? mode which allows the player to mark specific targets, such as enemies or objects, and shoot them when they burst through a door or window. You can also mark them in order, so if you want to take out a light to distract, then a fire extinguisher to cause even more chaos, and lastly take out the guard, you can. Obviously, you can?t do this repeatedly; it would just make the game too darn easy. The way to ?build? this mode is to do a manual take down and from what I was able to tell, they stack. Meaning if you do a lot of manuals you?ll be able to tag and bag more guards. Fun stuff!

Another new part of the game is the ?Last Known Position?, what this is, is when you break the line of sight of an alerted guard, it creates a stationary hologram of Sam, this tells the guard (as he runs for additional help) where you were last; which means you need to get out of there as you can expect the guard to quickly return, with his buddies, to that exact spot? then you can use various strategies such as a killer flank.

Lastly, in the new features department is the ability to interrogate guards, and use the environment to your advantage. It makes for interesting cinematic interrogations. Example, Nato-King and I were playing the coop story, and he says, ?Look Stephen a grill!?... I said, ?Ok, go for it?. Let me tell you friends, there?s nothing like having your guards extra crispy!
Lastly, the game uses a cover system much like Gears of War does. Tagging and quickly going from cover spot to cover spot. In the Splinter Cell world that was a long time coming. Again, I don?t remember if Double Agent had that or not?my guess is ?no?.

Now let?s tackle Coop Multiplayer, it?s probably the most exciting part of Conviction. It?s got a completely separate storyline tailored around the two stealth operatives, which is not a rehash of the single player levels. How cool is that? It?s freaking awesome!
The best advice I can give while playing cooperatively is communication! It?s so important, it will save you a lot of unnecessary restarts, and honestly it?s the only frustrating part. If you?re friend does something that compromises the mission, you start over, and vice versa. I?m thinking there should be some sort of mechanism that is a little more forgiving. Not sure what, but something. Most importantly, it doesn?t really take away anything from the game.

Undoubtedly the coop campaign remains a very important part of the game. If I were to base the review on the single player aspect alone, the score would have been much lower. Call us gamers greedy or spoiled, but the fact remains that gamers want more bang for the buck out of our games. Splinter Cell Conviction delivers.

Unfortunately, I didn?t have the chance to play the other multiplayer modes called Deniable Ops mode. Deniable Ops mode involves 4 multiplayer modes that pit the players against AI in game modes such as Hunter, Infiltration, Last Stand, and Face-Off. If they?re anything like the rest of the game, I?m sure they are all great.

Overall, Splinter Cell Conviction belongs in any fan of the series? library. Also, if you?re a fan of coop gaming action this is your game. I know a lot of people will complain on the lack of mass multiplayer action, but seriously? Do you want to see ten ?Sam Fishers? rooting around trying to hunt each other down? I don?t think so Tim! This is a well put together game, and great value, you?re basically getting three games in one!

Overall: 9.1 / 10
Gameplay: 9.1 / 10
Visuals: 9.5 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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