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

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You got your Bourne Conspiracy in my Splinter Cell

Introduction

   Welcome to the new age of Stealth/Action gaming.  Splinter Cell Conviction offers a huge overhaul to the coveted franchise which has been in dire need of refreshing.  A more plot driven style means a little less subtlety
 Now with 10x more ACTION
and a lot more tension.  Game play drastically changes, both for better and worse.  Graphically superior to previous installments, yet not quite the prettiest title on the market. And as has been stated many times before; "The Sam Fisher you know is Dead", but lets start from the beginning.
 
 
 
 

Plot

  It gets panned by many for having such a short narrative, but I found it to be a very complete episode which leaves a nice opening for another sequel.
 

Presentation

   The game shines gloriously in this aspect in that menus and layout design are both functional and beautiful(Plus it is kind of a neat easter egg, but if you go through all the various menus, you will notice that it is one large scene frozen from the single player story).  Aesthetically  this game is the prettiest Splinter Cell thus far, and
 What to do next?
offers a really well integrated objective projection system. This handles not only text, but video, and presents information in a way that it seems like I'm playing a movie rather than a game at times.  Sam does indeed look a bit slimmer, but hey, who has time to go to a gym when your a wanted man. The textures seem decent as long as you don't zoom in on them with a 4x scoped gun.  The character models are very nice though the variety of npc's is a bit lacking, but that is just a minor gripe.  The lighting is also very good, but I have to admit that some of the shadows seem a little blocky at times.  Sound comes in both 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo, but because I don't have surround sound setup, I can't really comment on that aspect. Overall I would say that the game looks and sounds good by current generation standards, just don't expect it to have the absolute best visuals.
 

Game Play

   This is where it gets a bit tricky.  Regardless of what I write, I will either be chastised by the hardcore Splinter Cell elitists or by everyone else.  I have to first say that I have never been the biggest fan of the series mainly due to it's unforgiving nature of punishing the impatient.   That being said, I love this game so damn much that I just cannot  stop playing it.  Given how  Double Agent
Oh, you'll talk soon enough
is the black sheep of the family, I don't think anyone should be surprised with the changes made for Conviction.  A lot of the game revolves around finding cover, shooting enemies from cover, and finding more cover to shoot more enemies.  I can't help but think that it feels like gears of war, but with interrogation sequences.  Of course there are specific stealth missions where being detected is an instant mission failure, so while the game does open up to a broader audience, it also retains at least some remnants of Splinter Cell's original formula.  Removing features such as lock picking, hacking, and other such mini games allowed for the player to be fully immersed in the story without being sidetracked every 10 minutes to do some monotonous task.  The only feature I do miss is the ability to move bodies, but given the scenario Sam is in, he doesn't care about leaving a trail of dead bodies in his wake.
 
    The controls are locked in with only the ability to invert the Y-axis.  This is somewhat confusing considering how different the button mapping is compared to previous games.  It does take a little time, but they are easy enough to get used to, and while not perfect, offer a good sense of control over your actions.
 
  The 2 most notable additions to the game are Mark & Execute and Last Known Position.  M&E is a reasonably priced system with 1 hand to hand take down earning you 1execute set which varies depending on your equipped gun.  
 Boom Head Shot
For example,  a fully upgraded Five-Seven offers 4 marks per execute whereas an MP5-SD3 only offers 2 marks.  It is very useful for taking down a group all at once, but I rarely came across a situation where I couldn't just pick enemies off 1 at a time.  Last Known Position on the other hand is a really fun new feature that allows the player to mislead guards and potentially flank or avoid bad combat scenarios.
 
 
 
  The last big difference in game play would be the removal of all previous forms of Night/Thermal/EM goggles.  This of course didn't leave without the introduction of the Sonar Goggles.  A form of vision that  uses 
These ain't your Daddies goggles
sound and pings to see though walls and locate enemies and objects with which you can interact.  The only downside is that moving scrambles the focus, and thus, balances it so players don't just leave it on the whole time.  I admit it is a little sad that there is no night vision because I find myself in dark rooms often, toggling back and forth between sonar trying to figure out where to go.
 

Game Modes

  • Single Player Campaign - A short but sweet 5-8 hour single player mode
       
  • Deniable Ops - A set of 3 game play modes.
  1. Hunter - Kill all enemies in area
  2. Last Stand - Defend an EMP generator from 20 waves of enemies
  3. Infiltration - Kill all enemies without being detected
 
  • CO-OP / Multiplayer - A set of 5 game play modes, 3 of which are previously listed in Deniable Ops
  1. CO-OP Story -  A prequel to the events of Splinter Cell Conviction, spanning 4 chapters.
  2. Face-Off - 1v1 mode with rounds of 3 per set.  Enemies optional.
  3. Hunter - Kill all enemies in area
  4. Last Stand - Defend an EMP generator from 20 waves of enemies
  5. Infiltration - Kill all enemies without being detected
 
The really significant part of Conviction's multiplayer is its inclusion of a CO-OP campaign prequel.  It too lasts about 5-8 hours
 On a bicycle built for two
depending on difficulty and more importantly, the reliability of your partner.  I found this to be just as fun as the single player campaign.  The levels in co-op aren't as big as you would expect them to be, and while there are many bottleneck points on each map, My brother and I were still able to explore somewhat different areas in a divide and conquer tactic.  All in all, the co-op is just as beefy and seems to be more integral to the entire game, rather than just a tacked on feature.  That being said, Face-Off mode leaves a lot to be desired in that it isn't spies vs mercs.  Last Stand is Splinter Cell's Horde mode, but weaker in that it isn't defending ones self from the horde, but rather a big inanimate object.  Infiltration mode is where the hardcore Splinter Cell fans will most likely find the slightest bit of enjoyment in that being detected means failure, so stealth is the only way to finish those levels.  And Finally, Hunter mode, which is your all purpose, I want a little bit of stealth and action without all the story and cutscenes.
 

P.E.C.

 Upgrade Time
I decided to leave this out of the game play section because this is sort of a meta-game in itself.  The Persistent Elite Creation system is a series of challenges subdivided into 3 different categories of:
  • Prepare & Execute
  • Vanish
  • Splinter Cell
These challenges range form killing enemies in specific ways, to evading enemies in specific ways.  By completing challenges you are awarded points which can be used to upgrade your weapons and uniforms.  It is a great in game reward system and offers enough incentive for players to experiment and use different gadgets  and weapons for different scenarios.
 

Summation

   Splinter Cell Conviction is a step in a very different direction for the stealth/action genre.  It will indeed alienate some of the older fan-base by changing so many of the mechanics.  It takes a lot of risks and I personally feel that while not a perfect experience, it is by far the BEST game in the franchise with plenty to offer.  I also think that this evolution in game play allows for a wider audience to enjoy it.  Long story short, this is a great game. Play it, enjoy it, rinse, and repeat.
 
One last thing.  In reference to my title, this game does indeed play a little bit like a Bourne movie.
 
                                                                                                                                                                          Infamously Iireku
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Other reviews for Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (Xbox 360)

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