Sam Fisher is a brand new man, for better or worse
Sam Fisher is a new man, and for some his change might be a little too drastic. In the latest installment of the Splinter Cell series, we find Mr. Fisher quietly going bananas in Malta, only to quickly find even madness won’t save him from his past.
After the death of Sarah, Sam retires from his long and devout career. This, however, changes as he reunites with Anna Grimsdóttir (a.k.a. Grim), who has some news regarding his daughter. While the story is compelling, nothing is too shocking and anyone who has a few American-styled action movies under their belt might be able to see everything coming. Granted, those movies are popular for a reason.
Easily the most noticeable difference between the old Splinter Cell games and Conviction is the severe lack of gadgets, gizmos, and night-vision goggles. That’s right: the three eyed goggles are gone forever, replaced instead by sonar goggles. With the power of dolphins, Sam is able to… well, do what he always does: kill folk. Things are different this time around, however. The rules are relaxed and the missions that require absolute stealth are limited at best. At times it seems like the game actively wants you to pull your automatic gun out and paint the room in holes.
Unfortunately, while the action has picked up and become a good deal more fun for people who never really liked stealth games, it also has a fairly nasty side effect. There were more than a few times that hanging from a pipe on the ceiling or on the edge of a window was enough to wipe out entire squads of men. Your keen ability to dispatch foes only gets easier with the introduction of the Mark and Execute feature. Each time you silently melee-kill somebody you refill your magic little meter and can use it to kill off a few guys at once. As you go on in the game you’ll eventually get a higher meter (which is more of a collection of icons) and wiping out entire rooms becomes monotonous.
Conviction doesn’t feel like a Splinter Cell game, which for some is a compliment and for others a horrific sentence to utter. The cover-and-shoot method works a bit too well and head shots are far too easy. And yet, somehow the game remains decidedly fun. Coupled with some absolutely amazing multiplayer design and a good story and somehow this game remains standing.
The presentation, specifically the messages that pop up on the walls and tell you what to do next, is brilliant and gives the game a fluidity not often seen. Unfortunately, many of the animations lack that fluidity. Perhaps it was meant to look this way, but on one of the fairly early missions you are tasked with chasing a person down and, for some unknown reason, Sam stop running like a human being and turns into Neo from the Matrix. The graphics are fair and certainly not ugly, though many of the intro movies look absolutely God-awful.
The biggest gripe I have for this game is the enemies. While they’re good at doing their job and can easily thwart you if you let them, their big mouths ruin everything. As you begin to chip away at their numbers they taunt you, which is certainly not a bad thing. However, the lines are overly used and continuous. To make matters worse, they say the dumbest things. I’m beginning to think they purposefully did this so I’ll stop sneaking around and whip out my shotty instead.
With a solid multiplayer and a good story backing it up, Splinter Cell: Conviction is a refreshing take on the old stealth genre that it popularized. And while it might not be perfect and Michael Ironsides sounds like he had a stroke half way through the game, Sam Fisher manages to reignite my love for the series.