Splinter Cell Conviction - Xbox 360

I’ve played previous Splinter Cell games and while I appreciate them, stealth has never been my genre. My patience has died pretty quickly over the years so trial and error gameplay doesn’t sit well with me. Instead of learning from my mistakes and going until I get it right, I will more likely shut the game off and yell at it that I’m never going to play it again.

Conviction peaked my interest because I heard it went a different route, focusing a little more on action than previous installments. And I knew you smashed a guy’s face through a urinal, which is also important. So how went my return to the world of Sam Fischer?

I would say pretty damn good. This is a solid title. It’s not going to topple any of my other 2010 favourites, but I certainly don’t regret picking it up, and it definitely keeps the 2010 quality train rolling.

Having not even played that much Splinter Cell before I could immediately tell a lot has changed. For starter’s, this game is actually pretty easy. Since there is not as much of a focus on stealth, the usual trial and error elements are practically non-existent. Plus being spotted by an enemy doesn’t automatically mean you’re screwed, which is fantastic news for me. In fact some of the most fun I had in the game was when a guard spotted me, began to yell “He’s over he….”, only to be cut off by a bullet in the face. Ah the little things.

That’s not to say stealth isn’t a factor. If you want to you could play the game using primarily stealth, with the exception of one stage that turns the game briefly into a full-on third person shooter. Stealth is simply more of an option here than before. Conviction definitely puts the focus on action, which seems to be the deciding factor of whether people enjoy this game.

Many have said it’s dumbed down compared to the rest of the series, and on some levels that’s hard to argue. It really is possible to get through the entire game only using the silenced pistol and the occasional grenade. All you have to do is take cover, pop out and shoot a guard, go back into cover, wait for someone to come see what happened, shoot them in the face, and repeat.

Needless to say, the AI in this game isn’t terrific. Occasionally I would have an enemy actually employ some strategy and try and flank me or something, but quite often they just kept filing into a room no matter how many of their dead comrades lay on the floor in front of them. These poor guys just can’t seem to put two and two together. Their thought process seems to go “Hmmm, anytime someone goes over to that corner I hear a loud thud and then they don’t come back. I should go over there and check it out, all the while yelling as loud as I can about my intentions to go over there and check it out, just so people know where I am.”

Speaking of yelling, get ready to hear these bad guys yell the same things over and over again. “We’re gonna get you Fischer!” “Fischer we’re gonna get you!” “You’re gonna be gotten by us Fischer!” “If you were wondering whether we’re gonna get you Fischer rest assured we totally are!” Even when there’s only one guy left he’s still yelling, usually about how he’s not afraid. Jesus man stop giving away your position! Maybe it’s just everybody’s first day and they don’t know any better. It’s really the only thing that makes sense.

Uneven AI aside, the single player campaign is still a lot of fun. As I said it’s quite satisfying taking people out (the shooting feels great) and there are sequences such as the aforementioned full-on shooting sequence, as well as a foot chase, that switch up the formula and help keep things interesting. The interrogation sequences are interesting, however the urinal face smashing happens right at the beginning, and it’s simply impossible to top that. The only way would be if later on you got to smash a full sized bathtub over a guy’s head, but it never happens.

The story and presentation are also quite good. The story has a lot of the typical Tom Clancy espionage touches, but it’s done well and actually kept me interested. The touch of having all the game play objectives appear on in-game surfaces is also well implemented and although it doesn’t add much (there’s also an on screen indicator telling you where to go, making these kind of pointless) it’s unique and well, it just looks cool all right?

Once you’ve made your way through the single-player campaign, which in all honesty probably won’t take you very long to do, there’s still a wealth of coop and multiplayer modes to work your way through.

The biggest is clearly the coop story, which can be played either locally or online. It’s completely unique from the single player, featuring both new levels and a new story, one that has you playing characters other than Sam Fischer. There is a lot to like about the coop but I’m going to summarize everything using one example of an event that took place while making my way through it.

When you or your partner take too much damage, the player hits the ground and there is a window of time to revive them before they die. This happened to me. Unfortunately before resurrecting me, my partner got locked in a choke hold, and the only way to get out of those is if your partner shoots the bad guy holding you. So we should have been screwed. HOWEVER, this is when I discovered that even when you’re down, you can sit back up and keep firing. So I sat up, did a head shot on the choke holder from quite a distance, and was then resurrected and we continued on. How badass is that!? That right there says everything you need to know about the coop story, in that, it’s very good.

That’s certainly not the end of it either. You also have modes such as Hunter (taking down a certain number of bad guys in an area) & Last Stand (taking on waves of bad guys), both of which can also be played in single player. Basically, there is a whole lot to do in this game.

I wasn’t expecting much from this game, even after playing the demo (which now that I think about, doesn’t actually appear in the full game, strange) but I came out pleasantly surprised. I can see how longtime Splinter Cell fans may have some issues with it, but I personally had a lot of fun and would recommend having a look at it.