Sam Fisher has a message. It's from AMERICA.
Originally posted on my newly created website, Jormungamer.com
Sam Fisher is a man who has lost the thing he loved most in this world, and he will stop at nothing to exact his vengeance on anyone and anything that stands in his way, be it paid PMC mercenaries, or a plethora of light bulbs. The story of Splinter Cell: Conviction takes Sam Fisher everywhere from the country of Malta to the steps of the Lincoln memorial as he searches for the people responsible for the death of his daughter, Sarah. What Sam soon realizes, however, is that the death of his daughter was just the beginning of a web of lies that runs deeper than he could have ever imagined, revolving around secret EMP weaponry, the PMC Black Arrow, his old company Third Echelon, and a mysterious organization simply named “Megiddo.”
Conviction starts off with a fast pace and aims to keep it that way. However, a few hours into the game, something happens that simply feels out of place. To better flesh out Sam Fisher as a person, and to better explain his feelings and motives, Ubisoft Montreal decided to put you in the shoes of Sam 20 years earlier, when he was stationed in “Diwaniya, Iraq.” All is well until his squad is ambushed by a group of Iraqis wielding AK47’s. From then on, you play as a member of Sam’s squad codenamed “Husky,” and must find and rescue Sam before the Iraqis kill him. Now, while this level was by no means horrible, it was fairly difficult for me at first as I was playing on Realistic. Everything you learned earlier in the game, such as the ability to “mark and execute” enemies, the ability to look under doors with pieces of glass, et cetera, is stripped from you. This makes it quite arduous, as the only weapons you have are a scoped AK47, and a pistol twice as loud, throwing any possibilities of approaching enemies stealthily out of the window. This is a level I would expect in, say, a Call of Duty, not a Splinter Cell. I understand Ubisoft Montreal’s motives in adding it, but perhaps a cutscene or two would have sufficed.
The gameplay in Splinter Cell: Conviction is quite different from that in other games, as Sam now has the ability to perform the aforementioned “mark and execute.” To be able to perform one, however, Sam must first kill an enemy with a hand-to-hand move. Mark and execute allows you to select up to 2 people with RB, and by pressing Y, take them out quickly and effectively. Another gameplay feature new to Splinter Cell: Conviction is the idea of “last known position.” If an enemy happens to spot you, a holographic-like image of Sam appears in that spot, and stays there as long as you are not seen again, making it fairly easy to flank the majority of your opponents. Also, while Sam is hidden in the shadows, the screen turns black and white, and when enemies are able to see you, the color returns. I thought this was an apt way to easily let you know which of the two you were. If you are in an area where there isn’t much shadow to hide in, simply shoot out all the lights in the room. There was not one light in the game I tried to shoot that could not be destroyed.
Scattered throughout Conviction are “Weapon Stashes,” where Sam can upgrade his weapons and/or switch them with weapons he has already found throughout the game. To upgrade your weapons, you will need points you acquire from completing in-game “P.E.C challenges,” such as killing an enemy by pulling him from a ledge to killing 15 enemies with one magazine of an assault rifle without reloading. You can check the progress of your challenges from the in-game menu. Be careful, however, as while you are in the weapon stashes, enemies are still able to shoot and kill you. NOTE: Upon leaving the first weapon stash the game froze, and I had to restart my 360. Apparently many other people are having this very same issue.
Splinter Cell: Conviction incorporates a story-telling element I don’t think I’ve seen in any other game. At any point during the game, your mission objectives will appear as if they are projected onto the environment around you, telling you what to do while still keeping the feeling that you are immersed in the game.
In some areas, Splinter Cell: Conviction felt reminiscent of another Ubisoft game, Assassin’s Creed 2, in that you possess an array of skills and weapons and that you may approach any situation multiple times and still have it feel different each time because of the many options you have as to how to kill someone. Also, many times, after dying, I found that there were multiple paths I could take to get to the same objective.
The cover system in Conviction is one of the best I have ever encountered. While there were issues at times, with looking over whatever I was behind, and sometimes switching to the wrong cover when in a hurry, it was superb throughout the game. Although, when Sam’s back was against cover, every single time I tried to throw a frag grenade, it would always fail to clear the cover and land at my feet, killing me.
Also, I would like to add that towards the end of the game I had to drop my difficulty setting from the highest, Realistic, to Rookie, the lowest, as there was a part towards the end of the game that I literally tried 25 times to get by and couldn’t. By all means, this could just be me, but I don’t want people to think the entire game is a piece of cake on Realistic.
The A.I of Conviction, while at times very inconsistent, felt fairly competent throughout the game. In some instances, I would be flanked on all sides by a myriad of enemies, while at other times I would do something such as open a door in front of them and they would act as if nothing happened.
Graphically, Splinter Cell: Conviction is a very good looking game, with some spectacular lighting interspersed throughout it. Now, I played this game on Xbox 360, so you can be sure it is able looks much, much better maxed out on a PC. The music and sound of Conviction are also quite nice, with some electronic sounding pieces in places, - especially in the beginning of the game when Sam is running through the crowded markets of Malta - with a few fantastic orchestral scores here and there. Guns and explosives have a nice, visceral feeling to them that many other games lack, as well.
Splinter Cell: Conviction contains a separate co-op story, and 4 multiplayer modes, collectively called Deniable Ops, which includes Hunter, Infiltration, Last Stand, and Face Off. Both Deniable Ops and the co-op campaign allow 2 players to take on the roles of Archer and Kestrel, members of Third Echelon, and Voron, respectively.
> In Hunter, the object of the game is to go from room to room eliminating enemies, while being spotted increases the number of enemies present.
> In Face Off, you guessed it, both you and your friend are pitted against each other, although enemies are still present and ready to get in your way.
> In Last Stand, you and your partner must protect a certain item located on the map from getting destroyed by the enemy A.I.
> Finally, in Infiltration, the object of the game is to eliminate all of the enemy A.I, without being spotted at all, as that will end the game.
Overall, Splinter Cell: Conviction is a very good game and I commend Ubisoft Montreal for their achievement. Despite the hiccup that is the Iraq level, the inconsistency with enemy A.I, and with the cover system, that 30 minutes into the game it froze, and that I had to drop my difficulty towards the end, none of that was enough to overshadow the fact that Splinter Cell: Conviction is, well, a blast to play from start to finish. A conservative estimate as to how long it took me to beat the game would be about 9 hours, with 3/4ths of that being on Realistic and with the last 1/4th on Rookie.
*I also recorded about 2 minutes of the first hour or so of the game in HD, which can be found here. *