Splinter Cell: Conviction - PC - Review
It doesn’t need to be said anymore than it already has; for better or worse, Splinter Cell: Conviction survived the development process and is now available for the Xbox 360. The wear and tear of the enduring development cycle is clearly evident on the final product as Conviction is an oddity that shines at the appropriate moments, but presents itself as an entirely different beast than the past entries.
The single-player campaign is among the shortest in length for the series. It has its foot on the accelerator and never lets up on the intense action and streamlined storytelling. Splinter Cell: Conviction is as straightforward as they come with a few unsurprising twists and turns along the way, so players shouldn’t jump into the latest stealth action-adventure title expecting mind-blowing revelations.
Spanning from Washington D.C. to Iraq, Splinter Cell: Conviction’s missions have Sam Fisher trekking all over the world to uncover the truths about his daughter’s death and moles within Third Echelon. Tackling missions at the Lincoln Memorial, The White House, and Third Echelon headquarters, Conviction has a good amount of variety in mission diversity, but not enough in enemy variations. Too many times, Fisher is tasked to take down subpar Third Echelon soldiers, untalented mercenaries and hopeless police officers that can only be disposed of in a nonlethal way. It’s highly recommended players up the ante and immediately play through Conviction on the Realistic setting.
Taking only five hours to finish, Conviction is much shorter than hardcore Splinter Cell fans may have wanted. To their benefit, Ubisoft has delivered a cooperative mode that was built from the ground up for a two-player experience. In total, there are four missions that are close to 30-45 minutes long depending on the skill level of the players. The story behind is cooperative mode is different than the single-player campaign and is fully operational for split-screen and online multiplayer.
Sadly, the online multiplayer isn’t as compelling as it was in the past with the exclusion of the Spies vs. Mercs mode. Even with Co-Op story, Hunter, Last Stand and Face-Off modes, there’s a serious lack of competitive game modes. Of course, I am forgetting the addition of Infiltration as this mode is only available to players who have online accounts and are able to access Uplay, so let’s not consider this a mode that everyone will have the ability to access. Splinter Cell: Conviction supports only 1v1 or cooperative play, so when push comes to shove, Conviction is not the best multiplayer title in the series.
When it comes to the new features to the gameplay, Conviction employs a few tricks to hold the interest of the gamers. First up, there are the interrogation scenes. They are violent but brief encounters with NPCs who are withholding information from Fisher. It’s up to Fisher to beat the information out of them, but the options players have for techniques are limited. Secondly, the black and white aspects of heading into shadows aren’t the best feature Ubisoft has ever thought of. Exiting a well-lit area and entering a dark environment turns the scene into black and white. For newcomers, it essentially tells them they can’t be seen by enemies. For hardcore fans, it tells them they aren’t intelligent enough to figure it out themselves. Add in the new sonar radar vision that screws with the vision of Fisher even more and fans are bound to start crying out for the return of night vision goggles.
The last two features that need to be discussed are the Last Known Position and Mark and Execute. Last Known Position works well in theory, but more often than not, it presents an unrealistic way of how the action plays out. Enemies will stick around the Last Known Position firing randomly at thin air while Fisher makes his way behind to pick them off one by one. In addition to the Last Known Position dumbing down the enemy AI, Mark and Execute in turn makes it even easier to eliminate any enemy threats. After beating down an enemy via melee, Fisher earns the ability to Mark and Execute two enemies to kill them both instantly with one shot kills. It’s exciting and effective, but once again, Ubisoft has made a play at making the title more user-friendly for newcomers and less strategic for hardcore fanatics.
What it all boils down to is that Splinter Cell: Conviction appeals to a whole new crowd that grew up on creating distractions, using every single gadget in their inventory and dragging bodies into shadows. If Conviction is evidence of where Ubisoft is taking the series, they are about to win over a lot of new fans and potentially upset a portion of those already loyal.