Splinter Cell meets the Bourne Trilogy
Coming into this game I knew what to expect, I've been following the game since E3 2009 when the first gameplay of it was shown since its mysterious disappearance. It was obvious that it wasn't going to be the same type of story, same type of character, same type of gameplay that Splinter Cell fans have come to expect. The question is were the changes for better or for worse? Well, if you're a hardcore Splinter Cell fan who won't accept any change at all, you will be disappointed. However, if you were looking for a fresh twist to the Splinter Cell universe, or just someone who loves stealth games, or want to just experience a great co-op campaign, Splinter Cell Conviction will not disappoint.
Firstly, let's start off with the presentation of the game. The game looks decent, sure it doesn't look as good as you would expect for a game that was delayed so much but its passable. There are some low-res textures here and there, and a few of the character models are a little bit too...blocky. The lighting in the game is great, and it's not surprising for a game that really focusing on hiding and stalking your prey from the dark. One interesting thing that Conviction does is the elimination of the light meter. You won't find much meters showing you things like light or even the sound meter. When hiding in the shadows, the screen is black and white notifying that you are invisible to your enemies at the moment. When exposed to light, the colour bleeds on to the screen. It's a great effect which I was skeptical about at first, but turned out great in the end. Finally, the way the story is told, through the use of projections, is another interesting technique Ubisoft Montreal did to guide the player through to show objectives or mini-cutscenes to tell the story. At Microsoft's press conference it was such a big deal to the developers, but while playing you won't really be as shocked or amazed since you get used to it, eventually taking it for granted. It was a great move to just blend the environment into an objective screen rather than bringing up a seperate menu. It isn't groundbreaking or revolutionary but it was a neat touch.
Now let's talk gameplay. In older Splinter Cell games, the player hides and takes out enemies without alerting other gaurds. In Conviction, think Batman Begins. You don't hide from gaurds as a defensive manuever but a more aggressive one. Taking down enemies from the shadows strike fear and frustration into other gaurds making you play around with your enemies and is a lot of fun to do. The last known position system isn't the most unique feature in videogames, but is a perfect way to plan out how you attack your foes on the spot rather than stop and think. It leaves a whole lot for improvisation which, to me, is great and gives me different ways to handle the different situations you will face. The lack of a sound meter is disappointing, but the style of gameplay in Conviction will leave no reason to have the feature in the game at all. Again, you aren't trying to hide and prevent getting caught, your main objective is to survive, and kill your foes any way you see fit.
The campaign will take about 5 to 7 hours to complete, with an additional 3 to 5 hours (depending on the difficulty you play on) to complete the co-op campaign. Along with the two campaigns comes a multiplayer mode called Deniable co-ops which is basically different variations of "Horde" mode. Each of the modes have challenges you can complete to earn additional points which earn you new weapons and upgrades for your character which can be a lot of fun to get but whether it's worth the time or not to get everything varies to different players.
I won't add any story details in the review for obvious reasons, nothing at all. For hardcore Splinter Cell fans the game may come off as a disappointment due to the huge changes made to the gameplay. This should come to no surprise to anyone that's been following this game since it was first announced back in 2007, it was clear Ubisoft wanted to change the formula, thankfully we didn't end up with Shaggy Sam Fisher. It's different enough to be considered a different game entirely but it has some Splinter Cell moments with the stealth and satisfying takedowns make it even more enjoyable. It is disappointing that Conviction offers two very short campaigns for a game that seemed to be in development for ages.
In conclusion, Conviction is a great weekend rental, there are quite a bit of things to unlock but they really aren't worth the effort which leaves little to come back to (deniable ops can be fun but you can only take so much wave-spawn game types like horde and firefight).