hindsight's Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (Xbox 360) review

Why 'Conviction' failed to get 5 stars

Note: This is not a comprehensive review. It is meant to point out the difference between this game and its predecessors. I felt this necessary as it is the only aspect of the GiantBomb review that remained unclear.

Truth be told, 5 stars was well in reach for Ubisoft Montreal.

Though the gameplay takes a decidedly different approach from its predecessors, it is still a satisfying experience for both newcomers and fans of the series. The story and events draw the player in immediately. A father desperately searching for the truth about his daughter's fate, Sam Fisher undertakes a journey so exciting and fast paced, you will have a hard time leaving your seat. The experience is comparable to the movie "Taken", except rather than observe, you are Liam Neeson.

As voiced by Michael Ironside

With that analogy, one would think it impossible that this game not be declared a "must-have" for 2010. Yet its the absence of the series own tried and true game mechanics that are this near-masterpieces undoing. While new additions such as "mark and execute" help reinforce the notion that the player is a highly trained rouge rogue agent, the following is what counters that immersion::

- Inability to move bodies - Hiding corpses is both unwise and pointless during many of the scenes in this action-adventure. But for those moments where it is sensible, the inability to do so seems all the more strange.

- Inability to distract - While available in the form of sticky cams later on, the game does away with classic maneuvers such as tossing an object to distract and escape. Soda cans, pebbles, even a faint whistle from the shadows...none are available now despite the many times they would prove useful.

- No split jump - One of the most iconic maneuvers of the franchise, Sam is no longer able to hide in the heights of a narrow hallway. This ninja maneuver allowed Sam to employ unparalleled stealth for both a sneaky escape and unforseen attack.

Having these "classic" elements (and I mentioned only a few) remain in this latest installation of the franchise would have complimented the game well. The diversity in tactics available would have presented a game with a surprising amount of re-playability. **

Their absence does not take away the fun to be had in this game, but it does compromise some of the core elements that make this franchise what it is. And it is for this reason that the game manages to seem so foreign despite being the fifth installation.

In Conviction, you play as Sam Fisher, a rouge rogue agent that employs stealth. That description is a far cry though from the ninja you once were.

**For further insight, read my comment below. The one with a quote from Ubisoft Montreal regarding this game.

7 Comments
Posted by FlamingHobo

I agree completely.

Posted by Infininja
Posted by Garrus

I've never played the other Splinter Cell games though I'm aware of how they play and the demo of this, I felt the same.
 
I was wondering, why can I not hide dead people like the Hitman games, where is my knock on the wall & run like hell type of move? Metal Gear Solid has been doing that for years and yeah you'd think the guy had a knife or something to cut people down from the shadowed gap between the filing cabinets that they never check.
 
I really do want to play this game though but I just don't know about its re-playability.

Edited by Hindsight
I wish people would leave some feedback to go with their "thumbs down" of my review...but oh well...
 
@Garrus said:

" I've never played the other Splinter Cell games though I'm aware of how they play and the demo of this, I felt the same.  I was wondering, why can I not hide dead people like the Hitman games, where is my knock on the wall & run like hell type of move? Metal Gear Solid has been doing that for years and yeah you'd think the guy had a knife or something to cut people down from the shadowed gap between the filing cabinets that they never check.

 
Lookup 'Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory', in my opinion, that was where the series peaked. Similar to what I mentioned near the end of my review of offering "the best of both worlds", certain routes during the game could be done stealthily like a ninja, or aggressively like a Navy Seal. This is apparent even from the start when you are given three weapon/gear loadout options at the start of every mission: "Assault", "Stealth" ,or "Recommended" (a balance of the two)
 
@Garrus said:

  I really do want to play this game though but I just don't know about its re-playability. "

 
Having finished the campaign, I haven't really gone back to it. There are a few weapons that still need upgrading as well as achievements to be unlocked, but overall the campaign seems to be a one time rollercoaster ride. (You might play it after a few months though)
 
I can't comment on the co-op as I'm still waiting for my friend to join me, but alternative game modes like Hunter do hold some promise. It forces you to neutralize enemies in each area, but should you be spotted, more come out of the woodwork to hunt you down. Given that it forces stealth on you, and that you have the ability to raise the difficulty, handicap what weapons you use, set a time limit, makes this a welcome challenge.
 
Overall, the game on its own is quite enjoyable. But in context of the series, I wish there was some more Sam Fisher classic...
Edited by Hindsight

Creative Director of Ubisoft Montreal,  Maxime Béland, has this to say. 

The Splinter cell team found out what people really wanted was a fantasy; a fantasy of being Sam Fisher. A fantasy which gave them a brand new vision and approach that demanded that they would change the way that we were and are thinking, when looking at the stealth genre in general. Because it was taking too long, which often meant that only hardcore gamers were the ones to really complete the game and see it through. And the consequence of that fact, was also to see in the sales numbers. He actually stated that "If you look at the sales of Splinter Cell 1 versus Splinter Cell 4, they go a little bit down."

    
As accessible as 'Convictions' is, it does a disservice to the "hardcore" fans that see the series suddenly change from "stealth-action" to "action-adventure".
 
The different and interchangeable play-styles seen in previous titles such as 'Chaos Theory' or 'Double Agent' was something I had hoped 'Convictions' would expand upon.
 
As I mentioned earlier,  'Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory' offers "the best of both worlds",  in that at the start of each mission, you could choose your loadout of your gear/weapon. You could choose from employing a sniper rifle or shotgun attachment depending on what you were anticipating to do on this mission. Then, depending on what area you were in at the time, what options you saw available, and your personal preference at the time, you could get through the area either as a ninja or a Navy Seal. Maybe even employ a combination of both.
 
Once your in the next area, the process starts over again. 
 
Rather than expand upon this, adding the "mark and execute" technique to provide ease for some players, the game no longer seeks to balance stealth and action.
 
In 'Convictions', stealth takes a backseat.
Posted by Garrus
@Hindsight: I found my best friend was buying the game so I went and bought it anyway and I gotta say it's a really smooth game otherwise and the co-op is really cool I reckon. Still a few parts which just didn't feel right like though where escape and evasion isn't possible.
 
But yeah I guess DLC is gonna give it the replayability if they give us mission packs and stuff.
Posted by Hindsight
@Garrus said:
" @Hindsight: I found my best friend was buying the game so I went and bought it anyway and I gotta say it's a really smooth game otherwise and the co-op is really cool I reckon. Still a few parts which just didn't feel right like though where escape and evasion isn't possible.  But yeah I guess DLC is gonna give it the replayability if they give us mission packs and stuff. "
Yeah, on its own the game is great. In context with the series, it leaves something to be desired.
 
The closest you can get in this game is probably the 'Hunter' gamemode in "Deniable Ops". Its still a "kill everything that moves" kinda deal, but the game makes it a real pain whenever your detected. Bringing in double the number enemies that were originally there and all of them flank you at once.
 
Again, if you do wanna go ninja, try looking at Chaos Theory or Double Agent (the graphics aren't on par, but they honestly aren't terrible. They play just fine on a 360 too). Try looking up some gameplay videos.

Other reviews for Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (Xbox 360)

    Sam Fisher is back and better than ever 0

    Sam Fisher may have lost his daughter, killed his best friend and seen his life begin to unravel, but his troubles are nothing compared to the tumultuous few years Splinter Cell: Conviction has endured. After a debut trailer depicting an old, downtrodden Sam Fisher - long hair and beard in tow – involved in hand-to-hand combat in broad daylight, the team at Ubisoft Montreal took early criticism on board and carried Conviction back to the drawing board for some much needed redesigning. The...

    11 out of 11 found this review helpful.

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