So I picked up Splinter Cell: Conviction a few days ago and as an avid Splinter Cell fan I was thrilled to get into it. I was slightly skeptical due to all of the talk on forums about dumbed down game play and a change of style. To be honest, the gameplay is simplified. Also, the character of Sam Fisher has undergone an emotional transformation. Top all of that off, many people (including Jeff) have a problem with the voice acting of Michael Ironside. All of these things made me a bit apprehensive about the game. Nonetheless, I knew that the game itself would still be enjoyable.
To clear things up, I started playing the game having already playing through the demo several times. With this I already understood how the game played but I still did not understand how all of the cinematic and gamplay elements fit together. It was evident that the intentions of the game designers to keep the player engaged at all times. The game starts with Sam fisher as he is following up on a lead concerning his daughter’s death. Fisher is looking for a crime boss in Malta. The scene opens as a waiter at an outdoor waiter delivers Sam a phone. Sam picks it up and hears his old friend Anna Grimstottder on the other end of the line. They have a brief conversation after which the gameplay starts.
The gameplay in Splinter Cell: Conviction is the most notable difference between this game and the others that came before it. The gameplay is also the aspect of this game that has raised controversy among long-time fans of the series. Some say that the gameplay is “dumbed down” in order to make the game more accessible to a wider audience. While this is the case from public relations prospective, I do not think that the new gameplay hurts the feel of the game. To be perfectly honest the gameplay in the splinter cell series had been more or less the same since 2002 when the original game was released on the Xbox. That being said, the gameplay needed on overhaul to bring the series to the same level as other 3 person action, action games. The old formula of trial and error stealth and a slow-moving, over the shoulder shooting mechanics may have worked back then but it never truly did Sam fisher justice. Even in the older iterations of the series (which I still hold high today) it was difficult to come up for a reason why, Sam Fisher, Former Navy SEAL operator and team leader in the Gulf War was just about helpless in an unanticipated firefight. The shooting controls in Conviction are smooth and user friendly, but more importantly, they give the player the feeling that they can handle themselves in a gunfight, just as Sam fisher, A man who is one of the most lethal and experienced soldiers in the world. I think that the streamlined shooting mechanics are a nice change of pace due to the fact that the player is no longer held back or frustrated by antiquated shooting controls.
The other changes in splinter cell are problematic to some as well. One thing that gets criticism and praise across the board is the addition of the mark and execute mechanic. A lot of people would say that it is a crutch for people who can’t aim and let’s be honest, sometimes it is. However, the mechanic itself makes sense within the context of the character. There is no reason why someone with extensive combat training should not be able to line up multiple targets and take them down quickly. This mechanic lets the player feel more like Sam Fisher as he storms into a room, grabs the first enemy he sees and uses him a shield, after which he drops the three remaining enemies with precise neck and head shots (yes there are agents in the intelligence community that are capable of this). My only real gripe with mark and execute is that it feels a bit contrived when you have to kill an enemy hand to hand before you can use it. The least that Ubisoft could have done is woven some kind of explanation into the game like adrenaline or something.
Another thing to note is the one-button context sensitive controls in Conviction they work well for the most part except for those occasions where a coop partner is incapacitated next to a railing, if you get where I’m going with this. Sometimes the controls don’t always do what they need to do but this is loads better than taking precious time to select options out of a dialog box like in previous Splinter Cell titles , which is one thing that I do not miss.
So, with all of this, what am I getting at? Conviction is still Splinter Cell. For the most part you can play the game just like you would any other Splinter Cell game(avoiding detection and taking out enemies quietly) but the player can also have the freedom to take on obstacles as they choose. Even if this means that everyone in the level gets a shotgun blast to the face… Personally, as a long time Fan of the series I have embraced theses changes and realized that they are necessary for the advancement of the series. Being that Splinter Cell is my favorite game franchise of all time this is a good realization fir me to make but more importantly, I have taken these changes is stride and I am now enjoying Splinter Cell: Conviction more than any other splinter cell title I have embraced the changes and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the series.