Sam Fisher is no longer confined to the shadows
In the fifth full-length Splinter Cell game, Sam Fisher becomes a rogue agent. Anyone unfamiliar with the events leading up to this needn’t worry though, as everything you need to know about Sam and his objectives is literally written on the walls as you play.
Conviction is different from earlier games in the series, which have traditionally focused on high-tech espionage and stealth-based action. Here, Sam is stripped of his advanced gadgetry (to begin with, at least) and has to improvise instead, such as using a broken-off wing mirror instead of a state-of-the-art spy cam to check under doors before entering. There’s also less reliance on remaining hidden, and more opportunity to step out from the shadows and indulge in some straightforward duck-and-cover gunplay.
As such, the game is more accessible (and possibly easier) than previous entries in the series. Many of Splinter Cell’s signature elements are retained, though. As usual, there are often multiple ways to achieve your goal. You may be able to choose between bashing down a door to surprise enemies or jumping out of a window, shimmying around a ledge before quietly slipping into a room unseen, for instance.
While Conviction rejects some of the fiddlier aspects of stealth gaming, such as finding somewhere to hide bodies, it adds a few new touches of its own. If you’re detected by enemies, you’ll see an outline of your last known position, giving you an indication of where the bad guys will focus their attentions. You also have the ability to mark and execute enemies, taking out a whole group of them in the blink of an eye.
As Conviction is a Tom Clancy game, the story is one of its strong points. The plot itself is a straightforward yarn of betrayal and revenge. What is more interesting is how it’s revealed throughout the game, not just in cutscenes between missions but via a retrospective voice-over narration, some brutal interactive interrogations and Sam’s memories, which are occasionally seen projected onto walls, like movies.
Despite some great lighting and shadow effects, Conviction is not as visually impressive as many other recent games. The sound design, by contrast, is very strong, with some great effects, music and dialogue helping to build character and atmosphere.
Convicton is a clear attempt to broaden the appeal of the Splinter Cell series, which is mostly a good thing. Faithful fans of the earlier games may feel that Conviction is a dumbed-down version of the stealth formula. There’s plenty here for everyone to enjoy, though. As well as the action-packed single-player story, there are a number of multiplayer options available, including an excellent two-player co-op campaign.
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Splinter Cell Conviction successfully broadens the series' appeal, though long-term fans may consider it too dumbed-down Good Points: Cleverly told story, more accessible than previous titles in the series Bad Points: Graphics are sometimes weak, long-term fans may find it too light PEGI: 15+
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