I picked up Splinter Cell Conviction this past week for the Xbox 360. I’m a pretty big Splinter Cell fan and have loved all the games except the past one (Double Agent). It’s been a while since the last Splinter cell. Years ago at E3 they showed us footage of the next Splinter Cell that featured Sam Fisher with a more rugged and long dark hair look with him throwing chairs and interacting with the environment. We thought we were getting this Splinter Cell in 2007 but it was canceled and Ubisoft went back to the drawing board and went in this new direction.
I’ve completed the single-player storyline and want to share with you guys my thoughts.
Story: I honestly didn’t find the story in conviction to be that interesting. It does carry on a little bit from past Splinter Cells, but for some reason it was just not interesting. I didn’t really care about all the conspiracy theories and crap going on behind the scenes. I really just wanted to sneak around and kill people. There was nothing about the story that changed that.
Action Feel – Most of the time it isn’t about sneaking around anymore. There are times when you have to just go straight through enemies and that’s not something that has been apart of the series. In past games you have different ways of completing the objectives and ways of taking people out, but in Conviction it’s more of a streamlined action approach with more overt killing.
Cover System – The cover system works well. However, it changes the way the game plays. This goes along with the Action Feel where the game is about getting good spots to shoot people instead of hiding.
Mark and Execute System – This is a neat system that gives great moments of killing multiple enemies, but it also puts the game on easy mode. With the press of one button you can instantly take out up to four enemies at once. A good way to balance this would be to let you mark and execute a limited number of times per mission. All you really have to do now is just get a stealth kill and you can remark and execute again. While it’s useful (really useful), it lends itself to a bit of abuse where the game plays itself. Mark your targets, press one button, and they all die.
Gadgets – This is one of the parts I was most disappointed. They’re not cool spylike gadgets. It’s more like frag grenades, emp grenades, flash bangs, remote mines, and sticky cameras. While sticky cameras in past games have been really cool and awesome, in this game they blow up instead of releasing gas and knocking a guy out. They all basically do the same… they all might as well be the same gadget. It’s about blowing stuff up now. Most all the gadgets from past games are gone: No more ring air foil rounds, sticky shockers, or good sticky cams.
Wall Hax Sonar Goggles – Gone are the vision modes. No more night vision, heat vision, and that electronic vision. You have Sonar vision now which is essentially wall hax. You can see enemies through walls, mark them through walls, and essentially never be surprised about where an enemy is at.
Black and White Stealth – This is frustrating. Instead of the stealth meter, whenever you’re in the shadows and hidden the screen turns black and white. For the majority of the game you’re going to be playing a black and white game. I don’t want to play a black and white game. In past Splinter Cell games though it’s not like you had regular vision anyway with all the goggle modes constantly being used. There are better ways to let you know you’re hidden.
Moves and Abilities – Sam loses the ability to split jump, the ability to do cool stuff like cut through fabric of a tent and sneak in, hanging upside down and snapping necks, no more interrogating random people — just story characters, no more hiding bodies which was important because now when you kill someone and his buddy comes along you’re going to be detected no matter what.
No Spy vs. Mercenary – This breaks my heart. I think it was implemented in Splinter Cell 2 and did really well and Chaos Theory expanded upon it. It was different but still enjoyable at least in Double Agent (Xbox 360). Overall it was a really fun and innovative multiplayer experience. All I can hope is that they add it later as a game mode. I’d even pay for it as DLC.
I do like some stuff though!
Writing on the Wall – The objectives and delivery of messages to the player are written on the wall in text and presented as mini flashback movies as though Sam is thinking about them while doing the mission. This really helps the flow of the game because there isn’t any interruptions to check the menus to know what the objectives are.
Last Known Position – Whenever you become hidden from an enemy who knows your position, you see a ghostlike imprint of yourself where they last saw you. Enemies go to investiage this last known position and it’s cool because this lets you set up for some good stealth takeouts or opportunities to sneak by people.
Michael Ironside – Who doesn’t like Michael Ironside?!
Co-Op – It’s really nice that they included a Co-op campaign with split screen mode along with several interesting game modes that you can play with another person. These aren’t like the normal campaign. Keen and I have started playing together and are having fun.
Overall, it’s a fun game and I did enjoy it. Because it is Splinter Cell, it’s hard to look at it for what it is and not for what it should have been. When I really do just take a step back and take it for what it is, I had a good time playing through. I’m just now going through the co-op campaign which is going to add more fun. I really do hope in the next Splinter Cell that they return to the original formula. This is like “New Coke” all over again.