Review: Splinter Cell: Conviction

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The loss of several gameplay options from previous games and the overall watering down of the stealth elements is something I would ordinarily frown upon, especially given my love of such a great franchise.

But Ubisoft did something fantastic. They didn't just change the game because "it was time to do something new". This all ties into the story, and the story all funnels into Sam Fisher's character. My experience is somewhat limited, but Conviction's Sam may be the most realistic video game character I've had the privilege of controlling. You already have Ironside's fantastic pipes behind him, but Ubisoft crafted a compelling and intimate story for Sam along with some really stunning and believable body language. When you combine that with great pacing, a still-strong emphasis on stealth, more forgiving gunplay mechanics, and a storytelling methodology that blurs the lines between gameplay, cutscenes, and quicktime events, you get this.

Nevyrmoore:

Suskie:
...check out the multiplayer...

Does this mean the Spy vs Mercenary mode is still in? Or by multiplayer, do you mean that co-op mode?

They actually have sort of a more spy vs. spy mode which is a lot more fun. No one liked being the mercs, so now it's only the fun part

Seems like it suffers a bit from shaky-cam from the video. Yuck.

Nomaic:
The loss of several gameplay options from previous games and the overall watering down of the stealth elements is something I would ordinarily frown upon, especially given my love of such a great franchise.

But Ubisoft did something fantastic. They didn't just change the game because "it was time to do something new". This all ties into the story, and the story all funnels into Sam Fisher's character. My experience is somewhat limited, but Conviction's Sam may be the most realistic video game character I've had the privilege of controlling. You already have Ironside's fantastic pipes behind him, but Ubisoft crafted a compelling and intimate story for Sam along with some really stunning and believable body language. When you combine that with great pacing, a still-strong emphasis on stealth, more forgiving gunplay mechanics, and a storytelling methodology that blurs the lines between gameplay, cutscenes, and quicktime events, you get this.

Exactly. I was skeptical at first because I'm a long time fan of the series, and it actually kind of annoyed me they were tinkering with the formula to such an extent with Conviction.

But it works.

They took some major chances on the redesign and the implementation of the billboard objectives and stripping away of some of the series mainstays, etc. but it all plays very nicely into the evolution of the character. Plus, it just works.

To me it doesn't feel as if they tinkered with the game just for kicks, or to blindly try new things. They definitely had a direction in mind and went out on a limb to make it happen. I would respect that regardless, but when it works this well, it's a thing of beauty.

This is my first Splinter Cell game and in fact my first foray into the stealth genre, but I still haven't been able to take the disc out of my Xbox since I rented it on Sunday. If I had known how amazing this game would be, I would have definitely bought it.

Russ Pitts:

Nomaic:
The loss of several gameplay options from previous games and the overall watering down of the stealth elements is something I would ordinarily frown upon, especially given my love of such a great franchise.

But Ubisoft did something fantastic. They didn't just change the game because "it was time to do something new". This all ties into the story, and the story all funnels into Sam Fisher's character. My experience is somewhat limited, but Conviction's Sam may be the most realistic video game character I've had the privilege of controlling. You already have Ironside's fantastic pipes behind him, but Ubisoft crafted a compelling and intimate story for Sam along with some really stunning and believable body language. When you combine that with great pacing, a still-strong emphasis on stealth, more forgiving gunplay mechanics, and a storytelling methodology that blurs the lines between gameplay, cutscenes, and quicktime events, you get this.

Exactly. I was skeptical at first because I'm a long time fan of the series, and it actually kind of annoyed me they were tinkering with the formula to such an extent with Conviction.

But it works.

They took some major chances on the redesign and the implementation of the billboard objectives and stripping away of some of the series mainstays, etc. but it all plays very nicely into the evolution of the character. Plus, it just works.

To me it doesn't feel as if they tinkered with the game just for kicks, or to blindly try new things. They definitely had a direction in mind and went out on a limb to make it happen. I would respect that regardless, but when it works this well, it's a thing of beauty.

One other thing I forgot to mention are the new projected titles. First of all, it fulfills exactly what Maxime promised: a much more streamlined and seamless way of storytelling that doesn't clog the screen and catches the eye. It's a lovely piece of aesthetics solely for the fact that it is, in my opinion, and ingenious way of playing into Splinter Cell's mechanic of light and shadow.

But it really is seamless and I dare say artistic. I especially noticed it as I was walking into the main lobby for Third Echelon. This mechanic effortlessly pointed me in the right direction while offering an added layer of storytelling by projecting large text above the welcome desk that read: "Welcome Home".

Brilliant stuff.

Brilliant review, but a few things irked me:

1. Third Echelon is a secret branch of the NSA, not the CIA.

[MINOR SPOILER]

2. The president knows of the existence of Third Echelon, since she was considering shutting it down.

But apart from those, brilliant review. It's a complete departure from the Splinter Cell style, but I think it works.

Needs Spy vs Mercs though.

EDIT: And the end of the co-op campaign is a load of bull. I fucking HATE Kobin!

Penumbra and Splinter Cell to me, have always been the true successors to the Thief series, in terms of gameplay. its a shame about the drm really.

Nice review, I think I'll grab a copy when it's out for PC next week!

This game was seriously badass. Really enjoyed it, it was so cinematic and fast paced, without the difficult and sometimes boring stealth sequences the previous games had.

-JB

/P.S Good review by the way

Can someone also explain why the PC version was delayed?

Sorry for the double post.

-JB

Sam was NSA, not CIA.

This was a great game, like you said, and like others have been saying, Third Echelon is NSA (more info @ the bottom of post). The controls are easy and immersive, with the only problem I had being me accidentally jumping through a window, rather than opening it like I intended, and alerting every nearby guard, but that's simply just being a bit off with my pointing. All in all, this game is everything it's made out to be, and everything you mentioned in your review.

Whoa, seriously? I've been avoiding this game because it looked like it was destroying one of my favorite series. But it's actually good? I'll have to buy it when I get the funds.

I do not have the patience to read the full written review at the moment, but I am not really sure if I even want to after watching the video review...

Apparently, they removed most of the stealth elements, correct? Instead, they introduced these 'nifty' execution and shadow skills? Did they remove the difficulty of sneaking through a facility without killing anybody and being noticed? Is the stealth now based on killing everybody as fast as possible?! If the answer is 'yes' , I will not even rent it and just prey for another good stealth game to come out soon (Eidos, if you screw up Thief 4, I will sneak up on you and use my flame arrows on the oil beneath you!)

Can't wait (for the PC version). Looks good.

Logic's End:
This is my first Splinter Cell game and in fact my first foray into the stealth genre, but I still haven't been able to take the disc out of my Xbox since I rented it on Sunday. If I had known how amazing this game would be, I would have definitely bought it.

If you like Conviction you should get Pandora Tommmorow and Chaos theory.

Only watched the video supplement... I may have to get this game this week.

Looks like a good game :)

Oh and...."Seeeaaam Fisher" wow what an accent.

Sonicron:
Looks like fun.

Question: Since I only played the first two games, do I need to play the other installments before this one or is there a better/faster way to brush up on the backstory?

Just watch up to season 5 of 24 and you'll get the gist.

Great review and I agree totally on how they are never afraid to try something new. It's worth mentioning that the game has a terrorist hunt mode similar to rainbow 6 and a fantastic 2 player component.

A purchase of this is valued deeply when I get the cash.

Until then, a demo for me :(

Wow, this review actually pushed me over the top. I actually bought and enjoy the game. Something that I haven't said about a Splinter Cell game.....EVER

I will agree with most of the review, the game is pretty freaking awesome. There are some down sides to it though. One thing that I didn't like is that even though there is a good collection of weapons, once you get the silenced scoped SMG, you really don't need to use any other gun. That thing was accurate, had a long range, and best of all, silent.
Another part that slightly disappointed me was the multiplayer is almost non-existent outside co-op. Don't get me wrong, all the co-op things are extremely entertaining to play (Except maybe Last Stand), though the only vs. Multiplayer I find is Face-off, which is a 1 vs 1 spy duel. I was hoping for the return of spies vs. Mercenaries.
In the end, the game was still good, though slightly easy. I've only played it on realistic, and that felt like Chaos Theory's normal difficultly.
Side note: Although not needed in the game, I did kind of miss the ability to split jump in tight hall ways.

Okay so this is a gotta get

I hope co-op is good too

I bought this on Friday and had completed it on Saturday in the hardest setting. I found it way too easy. While it is fun and exciting at times it has has a lot of repetition and some very dull sections.

To be honest the stealth in it is just stupid. It's like sneaking around in the world of the blind, your enemies don't see you when they reasonably would. Also, you're never vulnerable; when you're in shadows and do a take down you can easily get 4 mark and executes which makes you seem almost super powered.

The whole Bourne thing is totally there and it's great, an awesome agent versus these regular guys. Of course if you run out in the open you will die quickly but I just wish there was a new difficulty mode where the people are more alert.

It's a good game, it's just a bit short and a bit flawed in areas. I completed it in 2 sessions so it's definitely and entertaining title that keeps you coming back. It's just missing those final touches that would have made it great.

Nibiru:
I do not have the patience to read the full written review at the moment, but I am not really sure if I even want to after watching the video review...

Apparently, they removed most of the stealth elements, correct? Instead, they introduced these 'nifty' execution and shadow skills? Did they remove the difficulty of sneaking through a facility without killing anybody and being noticed? Is the stealth now based on killing everybody as fast as possible?! If the answer is 'yes' , I will not even rent it and just prey for another good stealth game to come out soon (Eidos, if you screw up Thief 4, I will sneak up on you and use my flame arrows on the oil beneath you!)

They haven't removed the stealth, large sections of levels require full stealth without being seen. There are a few missions where being seen means you have to restart.

In the video review they show you in a garage, in that first bit you can't be seen. The game flows really well and each mission is separated into sort of chapters, some more than others. So you will need to not be seen until you are in the place you are infiltrating.

It's worth playing but it's nothing like the Splinter Cells of old, of course, you can challenge yourself to slip by unnoticed but the levels generally require combat. A lot of the game is trial and error much like the earlier titles but being seen isn't such a big deal, a quick emp shock blast is enough to get away in most cases. If you do play I recommend doing it in Realistic mode and only use a pistol with a maximum of 2 mark and execute moves.

Nice one Russ. I enjoyed that.

Not trying to be a nerd, but in one part of the review he said that Sam worked for the CIA, but he worked for Third Echelon, and that is run by the NSA

T-Bone24:
I love the game, however Fisher seems to have gotten younger since Double Agent. hard to believe he's in his fifties.

Well, my dad is 51 and him and Fisher look creepily alike.

why? WHY IS IT ONLY ON XBOX????!!!!
ps i love how you put this is great place to start when we're at the end of the series
....or are we?

So I've played through the co-op and the campaign. While I was enjoying it, it has a very common problem. It's over too quickly. Difficulty as well is merely a case of not being detected in the levels that require it, and not necessarily retaliation.

For instance, I played through both the co-op and campaign on "Realistic", and beat them both. Problem is, 80% of the game can be beaten via typical combat approaches, and really ruins the need for hiding. The other 20% requires you to stay hidden which is such a jarring difference on "Realistic" that it can be keyboard-smashingly frustrating at times. The lack of an ability to move bodies in "Realistic" quadruples the difficulty simply because every target has a flashlight, and sees bodies more easily than they see you.

The story, while interesting, was too quick and seemed rushed. There wasn't much in trying to figure out what was going on, and the twists had me literally scratching my head. The lack of choice here was a problem. I felt like I always had one, maybe two ways to go or to deal with issues, most of which degenerated into simply shooting and not bypassing.

Now for all it's faults, I will say the one major thing that impressed me was the change in animations. They were all a lot more smooth and natural in comparison to previous titles in the series, however that doesn't excuse the rest.

Now as far as character designs, I do have to scratch my head there too. For one, Sam looks younger in Conviction. Why? This doesn't make sense. He's supposed to be older, much older. Archer's costume design is annoying as hell. He has a set of goggles that look like they are designed for night-vision with depth perception over one eye like an eye-patch. It just makes me want to punch him in the face each time I see it. Kestrel is at least believable.

Really love this game, Ive already beaten it 3 times, and play the challenges/co-op campaign constantly

Looks like a cool game. Getting it soon.

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