Splinter Cell Conviction is Sam Fisher’s latest adventure and this time it’s personal. He is working for himself now and has left Third Echelon behind or so he thought. Sam’s daughter was killed three years ago and he is out to find who is responsible at any cost. Along the way he will get dragged into an even bigger scenario where the security of the United States itself is at risk. This game took a very long time to come out and after going through it I can safely say that it was well worth the wait. The presentation for Splinter Cell Conviction is absolutely amazing. The way that your next objective was integrated into the environment really helped with the immersion of the atmosphere. The cover system that Ubisoft implemented into this game works really well. It works so well in fact that I hope to see it in future Ubisoft titles, such as the upcoming Ghost Recon game. Splinter Cell Conviction is also one of those titles where you can go through it two different ways. In the past the Splinter Cell franchise was mainly known for stealth. For Splinter Cell Conviction you can still go through the game using stealth as one of your main weapons or you can go in guns blazing and try to take out everyone you can as quick as you can. Now going that route is definitely going to make things a little harder on you but it can definitely be done. Ubisoft definitely took some chances with the new direction in this game, however, it has really paid off for them.
Splinter Cell Conviction features two campaigns along with some multiplayer. There is the main storyline campaign and then one that you can play co-op with a friend. The story of the co op campaign takes place after Splinter Cell Double Agent but before Splinter Cell Conviction so from a storyline perspective you really do want to do that first if at all possible. Going through the co op campaign with a friend will introduce to you one of the villains that you will encounter as you progress through the single player story. Splinter Cell Conviction does support local split screen co op so if you want to go through a level with a friend or loved one at home then you can do that too. There are actually five different multiplayer modes to choose from in this title. The first one is the co op story and then you have “Hunter” along with “Last Stand,” “Face Off” and finally “Infiltration”. Infiltration is not available initially but you can unlock that mode by completing certain tasks in the game and earning points for UPlay, Ubisoft’s own achievement system. Each mode has a little something different so gamers should have fun going through them. As you play this game you will come across a bunch of “P.E.C. Challenges” for you to complete. These challenges can range from anything like getting 50 headshots without alerting other enemies, reviving a teammate in co op a certain number of times, neutralizing ten enemies in a row without being detected and more. You can work towards these goals no matter what mode you are playing, however, some of them will be easier to get in the main campaign while others will be easier to get if you are playing with a friend. These challenges definitely add some replayability to the game as they are the key to upgrading your weapons. Each challenge is worth a certain number of points and you will use these points to unlock various upgrades for your existing weapons. This will in turn get you some achievements once you hit a milestone such as fully upgrading one weapon. It will take you quite a while to successfully complete all of the challenges so if you are someone who wants to unlock all of the achievements in this game you will be kept busy for a little while.
A player can have a bunch of cool weapons to use, however, it won’t mean much if the game doesn’t control well. Fortunately the development team up at Ubisoft Montreal hit a home run in this aspect. As I mentioned above the cover system is absolutely fantastic. If you are running and quickly need to get in to cover then Sam will slide into a cover location as if he was stealing second base. Once you are in cover you can pop your head up to take shots at the enemies or simply concentrate on marking them so that you can perform a “mark and execute” maneuver when everyone gets into range. If you need to move to another piece of cover you simply point to something by you and if you see some arrows on the ground then you know you can get there and with the simple push of a button you have literally dived into a new cover spot before the enemy can discover you. You can play this game of cat and mouse with the enemy AI with one of the new features in the game, the last known position. If an enemy spots you and you are able to quickly break their line of sight then a silhouette of you appears where they last saw you. They will go over to investigate that and while they are busy doing that you can either sneak up behind them to perform a melee kill or shoot them from another area entirely. The shooting in the game feels great and this is another spot where the “mark and execute” mechanic can come in to play. For anyone that has played the Rainbow Six Vegas titles they are already somewhat familiar with “mark and execute”. Three are also various ways for you to “mark” someone whether you do it normally, with sonar goggles on or by looking under a door utilizing a mirror so that you can mark an enemy before you even enter a room. Once someone is “marked” they will have a small arrow above their head. This can also help you keep track of where they are even if they are behind a wall or some other type of cover. You can’t go around doing this to everyone though or there would be absolutely no challenge in the game. The way that you “earn” the ability to perform this maneuver is by performing a melee kill on the enemy. Once you do that then you can perform “mark and execute” once and then you will have to melee another enemy before using it again. It was a good way to balance this attack and also make it so if you don’t ever want to use this maneuver then you don’t have to. If you are playing co op with a friend you can share your “mark and execute” ability. If your teammate mark’s an enemy but you have a better angle then you can execute them instead of waiting for your ally to get a better shot. If you both have a great shot lined up you might get the chance to perform a double execution where time briefly slows down and you watch as both of you shoot your enemy in the head.
There are of course any number of ways that Sam Fisher can dispose of an enemy. In addition to the standard shooting and melee attacks you can also use an enemy as a human shield and he will take all of the fire meant for you for a few brief seconds. If you are using an enemy as a shield you can also throw them into another enemy or simply throw them down a flight of steps or against the wall. During interrogations you will see some more extreme maneuvers such as slamming someone’s head into a television or kicking them off of a small balcony. If you are climbing around the outside of a building and you see someone standing by an open window you can reach in and pull them out of the window and watch as they plummet down to the ground. From time to time you will also come across these pipes that you can climb up and they will allow you to cross a room in the shadows, without being seen. During these instances if you have an enemy that is walking directly below you then you can let go of the pipe and jump on top of them, quickly taking them out before they knew what happened. Additionally, you can also use environmental factors to quickly take out a group of enemies. If you happen to see three guys standing under a chandelier talking then you can shoot the chandelier and it will fall down, killing all three of those men in one fell swoop. This will of course cause quite a commotion so if there are other enemies in the vicinity then you need to be prepared for a fight unless you can disappear quickly. My personal play style was trying to be as quiet as I could whenever possible and I loved using my silenced pistol. I could take out some guys quickly and cleanly before anyone knew what happened and, more importantly, before they could yell for reinforcements. There are times when you have to avoid things like security cameras and they will pick up a dead body so if possible I would always drag someone into a dark corner where they wouldn’t be found. It was a similar mindset to the Hitman series of games where you could hide a body so other people wouldn’t find it. While you can’t officially “hide” a body in Conviction I would definitely use the shadows to my advantage.
The only real blemish on this title is that there is a bit of clipping from time to time. If you mark someone for execution and then push the button and during that time your enemy has walked behind a wall, the bullet will simply go through the wall and kill the guy anyways. It didn’t happen to me all that much, however, it did happen. It should be noted though that if he is already behind the wall you won’t be able to execute him until he is close enough for Sam to get a clear shot. Overall, Splinter Cell Conviction is an absolutely fantastic game. I have gone through the main campaign as well as the co op campaign once and plan on going through them again multiple times, with multiple friends. As soon as I am done with this review I am immediately going back to Conviction to try and finish some more of those challenges. This is a game that everyone really must play and, hopefully, other developers will pick up on some of the ideas in this title, mainly the excellent cover system. Be sure not to miss out on Splinter Cell Conviction.
Originally posted on Totally Gaming Network