darkjester74's Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (Xbox 360) review

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An excellent reimagining of a beloved franchise

As a long time SC veteran, it was with a mix of excitement and trepidation that I approached Splinter Cell: Conviction.   The changes to the formula were significant and I wasnt sure how I would feel about them until I actually got my hands on the game.  Having completed the single player campaign, here are my impressions of Splinter Cell Conviction for the 360.  Hopefully these points will be useful to those folks out there who are long time SC fans but aren't sure about the new game:
 

·          The new mechanics are well implemented.  They are significantly streamlined but not so dumbed down that I couldn’t go back to my old bag of sneaky tricks.  I like that the selection of gadgets are trimmed down but all are useful in the right situations.  The only complaint I have is that the sticky cam doesn’t seem to be as effective as it used to be, because the bad guys don’t seem to come over often enough to investigate when I make noise with it.  The Mark and Execute is not the game breaker I thought it would be.  Lining up a 4 way take down is difficult enough to feel satisfying when you do it.  At first I didn’t think I would like the Sonar goggles but they are actually incredibly useful, more so than my old favorite, thermal.  The fact they have to pulse every so often balances the goggles and also makes things a bit more tense when guys are hunting you.

·          I did not find the game too aggravating, despite playing it on Realistic difficulty.  However, for the parts that I did have to retry several times, the inability to skip certain cutscenes was frustrating. 

·          I really like the artistic style of projecting objectives and cutscenes and such onto the world.  Really neat visual style, and did not feel out of place.  The bits where it projects in words what Sam is feeling are especially compelling.  Visually the game is fine, although its hard to get a clear shot of Sam’s face, seems like DOF effect always blurs him a little bit.  I also wish he wasn’t squinting all the time.  Get some glasses, Sam.  The interrogation sequences were awesome, very often I would say “ouchie!” when Sam did his thing.

·          The level design was nice visually, but does not give you enough options tactically.  The fact there is no in game map (and not needing it) is telling of how linear the level design is.  The old SC games had very large open maps, where a lot of your success depended on how you navigated the world in order to avoid detection. 

·          TOO SHORT!  The fact that I finished it in two sittings on the hardest difficulty is crazy for an SC game.  There is the co-op campaign to tackle but I can’t imagine its much longer than the SP campaign.  The other MP modes will decide whether this one is a keeper or not.  On the other hand the PEC challenge system is a good way to keep me engaged and try to pull of some specific stuff.

·          I agree with Jeff’s assessment that it’s time for Sam to move on as a character.  The story in SC concludes in a satisfying way and I feel his story has been told.  He should exit the stage on a high note, time to let some new blood into the SC franchise.

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