Does Splinter Cell : Conviction live up to the hype after years in development? The answer is an emphatic yes.
Ubisoft took some huge risks when they decided to completely overhaul Splinter Cell from the ground up in 2007. Then, they decided that overhaul needed a makeover, and here we are today with Splinter Cell Conviction. All that reconstructive surgery has paid off, because even though it may not resemble its former self very much, Splinter Cell Conviction has been refined into one kick-ass stealth-action game. The story pulls you in, the graphics are great, and the gameplay is fast and fluid.
Even though the game is short, it squeezes every last drop of action-packed fun out of the time you spend playing it. If you are into action movies or tv shows like 24, you will probably love this game. In fact, Sam Fisher in this game is very reminiscent of Jack Bauer, beating the hell out of suspects in brutal interrogation sequences and leaving behind a body count worthy of The Expendables. The only thing missing is Sam screaming angrily into his cell phone at the President.
If you haven’t played Sam’s last outing, Splinter Cell: Double Agent, don’t worry, the game catches you up quickly. Basically, Sam’s daughter has been killed, he killed his best friend Lambert, and he broke away from Third Echelon, the group he has worked with since the first game. Conviction’s story starts out with Sam mourning the loss of his daughter, and desperate to find out the truth behind what happened to her.It quickly turns into much more than that, and Sam finds himself once again trying to save America from terrorists that are planning to attack Washington D.C. Hmm… that sounds familiar…
The game has great pacing. The game is always driving you forward, and you always know where to go thanks to a distance marker and projections that pop up on walls to tell you where to go. You will also see flashbacks appear as projections on the wall, helping drive the story forward without stopping the gameplay. Also, there are no load screens in this game unless you die. Everything combines to make you feel like you are living out your favorite action blockbuster.
There’s only one spot that seemed out of place in the campaign. Throughout the whole game stealth is almost completely forsaken for guns-blazing action, yet in one spot you have to remain hidden in the shadows or you fail instantly. The pulls you completely out of the game and just feels like an archaic game mechanic. Even Chaos Theory from years ago had a more modern take on stealth.
Some people have been knocking the scene where you go back and relive Sam’s time in Iraq 20 years ago, but I found it refreshing. Sure there are no stealth mechanics here and it basically becomes Gears Of War here, but it is fun and adds depth to Sam’s character.
While the single player won’t take too long to finish, there are other, arguably better, pieces to the Conviction puzzle. There’s a seperate co-op campaign, Infiltration, Last Stand, and Hunter game modes.
The co-op campaign is really amazing. The great gameplay from the single player mode is further enhanced by having a friend fighting alongside you. You and a friend play as Third Echelon agent Archer and Russian agent Kestrel. The story here is a prequel to the single player campaign, where the team is hunting down W.M.D.s. It is integral that you fully cooperate with your partner in this mode, because if your partner dies (or sets off an alarm, in one frustrating sequence), it’s game over. Just like Gears Of War, you can revive your fallen partner before he bleeds out.
Splinter Cell Conviction is a great game, especially for the under $20 price point you’ll find it at now. It might not be very recognizable as a Splinter Cell game, but this is probably exactly the change needed to breathe new life into the franchise. If you’re buying the game just for the story, it would be hard to recommend back when it was $60. But at the current price you get a great , if short campaign, and an even greater co-op campaign, alongside some other great modes.