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Splinter Cell Conviction
Splinter Cell Conviction

Xbox 360
Genre: Action Players: 1
Developer: Ubisoft Official Site:
Publisher: Ubisoft Classification: TBC
Splinter Cell Conviction

Genre: Action
Players: 1
Developer: Ubisoft
Official Site: http://splintercell.u...
Publisher: Ubisoft
Classification: TBC
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Splinter Cell: Conviction Review
Review By @ 03:17pm 19/04/10
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction represents the fifth game in the Splinter Cell series (not counting Essentials on the PSP) and sees players once again step into the shoes of government-trained killing machine, Sam Fisher.

The game opens with a restrained Victor Coste, Sam’s long-time friend, being interrogated by unknown captors. He explains Sam’s current mental state and begins to tell his interrogators of his friend’s most recent exploits. And so, the entire game unfolds as a series of flashbacks which the player acts out as Victor narrates.

The first flashback begins with Sam kicking back in a European café, lying low after his disappearance at the end of the previous game. Out of the blue he gets a phone call from Anna Grimsdóttír, a former colleague at Third Echelon, warning him that a gang of hit men is closing on his position. Once Sam takes them out, he interrogates their leader and discovers that the man responsible for the hit and run death of his daughter three years earlier is a Mr. Andre Kobin. So Sam runs off to meet Mr. Kobin and an exciting plot, typical of Tom Clancy, unfolds.

As usual, the player takes control of Sam in the third person and one of the first things you’ll notice when you take control of Sam is the stealth system. When Sam is concealed by shadow and invisible to the enemy, the entire screen turns black and white with the exception of enemies and “traps” which remain in colour. Traps are interactive objects like fire extinguishers and fuel drums that explode when shot, or chandeliers and similar hanging objects that can be shot down to cause a distraction and/or crush enemies.

I found this full screen colour drain jarring at first, and since stealth is the name of the game, I was worried I’d be looking at a black and white screen for the duration. Mercifully, you don’t spend the entire game in shadow and there are even daylight levels. But surely there are more subtle ways to indicate when you are invisible to enemies than draining colour from the entire screen. Why not simply apply some effect to just Sam? Perhaps he could become translucent or a silhouette.

“But what about highlighting the traps and baddies?” Well, that’s not even necessary. It’s a fair assumption that a red barrel with a “flammable liquid” label on it is going to explode when shot. As for enemies, they waltz around flashing their torches and calling out to let you know exactly where they are. Trust me; you don’t need any help locating these guys.

This style of stealth indicator is not exactly a deal-breaker (ladies), but I’m not a fan.

Sneaking up on an enemy and tapping B sees Sam perform a “Hand-to-hand” kill. You’ll be treated to one of several brutal takedowns that will eliminate the subject with speed and stealth. Holding B causes Sam to take the enemy as a human shield that will absorb bullets on your behalf. However, human shields will collapse once they have been sufficiently perforated and enemies won’t think twice about turning their comrade into Swiss cheese if it means bagging Sam “The Big Fish” Fisher.

Once you tire of doing the bodyguard shuffle with your new friend, you can tap B to break his neck and be done with him. If you get the jump on a guy who happens to be standing in a well lit area, it’s best to take him as a shield and drag him into the shadows before you neutralise him so that his buddies won’t discover his body and become alerted to your presence. You see, you can’t actually move dead bodies. Once a corpse comes to rest, it’s there to stay. This is disappointing, as stashing bodies just seems like something you should be able to do in a game like this.

If you happen to be hanging from a ledge and an above enemy wanders within yoinking distance, pressing B will send him hurtling over the edge and straight to hell. (Because all private security contractors are evil.)

Dispatching enemies at close quarters using any of the above methods will activate Sam’s “execution” ability. Placing your crosshairs over an enemy and pressing RB marks them as an execution target and pressing Y takes down all marked targets within range with a chain of rapid headshots. Executions don’t accumulate, so after each deadly outburst, you’ll need to perform another hand-to-hand kill to enable another execution. I particularly enjoyed peeking under doors to mark targets before kicking it in and executing the poor shmos quicker than you can “!”.

When you pick up a new type of gun or gadget, it will become available from then on in weapons caches. Placed sparingly throughout each level, weapons caches allow you to swap weapons, replenish ammo and purchase equipment upgrades. Weapon upgrades include things like silencers, larger clips, laser sights, more effective ammunition and even “reflex sights” which increase the maximum number of execution targets you can mark with a given weapon. Each weapon can have a maximum of three predetermined upgrades, which forces you to share the love amongst your arsenal. You can also upgrade the blast radius of grenades, remote mines and the like.

Upgrades are purchased using points which you earn by completing “P.E.C. challenges” which include things like setting off a car alarm then performing a hand-to-hand kill on the poor sucker that comes to investigate, or head-shotting an enemy without alerting anyone a certain number of times. They’re a great way of rewarding the player for varying their tactics, and help to increase the game's longevity.

Whether you’re undetected or engaged in a fire fight, you’ll be spending most of your time up against cover. Holding the left trigger keeps Sam glued to the closest piece of cover, and you can dart from one piece of cover to another by lining it up and pressing A. The cover system works well; my only complaint being that the cover button is held down so often that it would have been more comfortable to use the left bumper as opposed to the trigger.

As is the norm these days, the save system is checkpoint based and health regenerates. The more hits you take, the more red your screen becomes. Stop taking damage for a few moments, the red fades and you're good to go.

Mini-games like lock picking, computer hacking and so forth are out. This time around you’ll be kicking in doors and planting C4. The closest thing to a mini-game is your ability to “interrogate” certain people. You pretty much just tap B every time the subject stops talking and Sam massages more information out of them. For added fun, you can drag them around the room and punish them against key objects. My favourite example of this is when Sam shatters a urinal with a guy's face. Bam!

Overall, making Sam do what you want is fluid and easy though I did find it difficult to place grenades accurately. Also, trying to pick up a weapon that has fallen close to a railing or piece of cover can result in you unintentionally vaulting over it since both actions are performed by pressing A. It's never really an issue though.

Visually, this game doesn't disappoint. The environments are packed with an impressive amount of detail, there are props aplenty and texture detail is high. During cut scenes and scripted events, shaky-cam is in effect. The unsteady camera is applied well and gives scenes a more organic feel without ever wandering into Cloverfield territory.

The opening menu is also well presented, taking the form of a fire-fight frozen in time complete with muzzle flare and blood splatter. Opening a submenu causes the camera to fly to a different vantage point, revealing more of the scene. I found myself navigating through the menus just to see more of what was going on. Another nice touch is the way mission objectives and other labels are projected onto the surrounding environment.

There is some in-game advertising that you’d be hard pressed to miss. The first thing I noticed was the use of Cisco phones; first in the hanger at the beginning of the second level and on pretty much every desk you come across from then on. I actually thought this was a good thing. Cisco phones are extremely common and it makes sense to see them on the many desks throughout the game. However, The line is crossed when Sam has to make a special trip to someone’s office just to make video call using a Cisco telepresence setup. The branding is front and centre before and after the call, the term “telepresence” is used several times, but I don’t recall anyone actually saying “Cisco”. What’s more, there was no reason Sam couldn’t have made the call on a regular phone.

Another instance of product placement is the Nivea / Phillips stall at the Washington monument carnival. Stacked with Nivea products and oversized Philips razors, it just seemed like an odd thing to see amongst the side-shows and food vendors. And why advertise shaving products anyway? Everyone knows the average gamer is too young to shave.

The game is also easy on the ears, boasting a first rate score and satisfyingly visceral sound effects. The voice acting is well performed, which is good because there is a lot of dialogue and not just during cut scenes. There are plenty of non-hostile bystanders throughout the game having conversations you can eavesdrop on. On one level, there’s a group of friends discussing their plans for the evening while on another a man is trying convince a shooting gallery attendant to give him a free shot. Some of the more interesting conversations, though, are those had by the henchmen you're about to kill.

Speaking of which: the enemies in this game use some of the most shocking language I have ever heard in a videogame, using every colourful term short of the c-word. It stands to reason since they’re not exactly boy scouts, but this is NOT a game you want to play while your mother is within earshot. (Unless she’s ex-navy, that is.)

If you’ve finished the campaign, but you still have challenges left to complete, you can try your hand at Deniable Ops and multiplayer. Deniable Ops is similar to the Special Ops in MW2 in that they are a bunch orf story -adjacent missions thrown in as a playtime extending bonus. The multiplayer is essentially just the single player experience linked to a matchmaking system so you can jump online and skulk with an accomplice. Needless to say, kicking in doors and capping e’ry sucka in the joint is far more enjoyable with a bud.

There are two modes of play in Deniable Ops: Hunter and Last-Stand. In Hunter, you sweep through levels and take out baddies. If you’re detected, they call in reinforcements and you have twice as many enemies to contend with. In Last-Stand, waves of enemies converge on an EMP which you must prevent them from destroying. It’s fun, but I’d still rather be playing Halo’s Firefight mode.

The multiplayer modes consist of Story Co-op, Hunter, Last-Stand and a multiplayer -only game type called Face-Off in which you go head-to-head with another player with waves of enemies thrown in for good measure.

Before kicking off any of these games types, you can choose your load out from the weapons locker. Much like the weapons caches in the campaign, you have access to all of the weapons you've unlocked so far, from which you can select a primary and secondary weapon as well as a primary and secondary gadget.
You can also equip different “uniforms”, ranging from civvies to full combat garb. As with guns and gadgets, you can purchase upgrades for your different outfits.

The three types of uniform upgrades allow you to improve your armour, increase your ammo, or carry more gadgets. With a maximum of three for each type, there are a total of nine upgrades; unfortunately you can only equip three of them at a time. Every upgrade you have equipped can actually be seen strapped to your character, which is a nice touch. If you wish to customize your appearance further, you can purchase up to five additional colour variants for each uniform; they won’t affect your stats, just make you look spiffy.

Exploring these extra gameplay modes will definitely provide you with a few more hours of entertainment on top of the campaign, but the multiplayer isn’t exactly rubbing shoulders with the likes of MW2.

Splinter Cell: Conviction is an entertaining, well polished game with a sophisticated story. The narrative jumps forward and backward on the timeline a little, but never gets confusing and works well as a storytelling technique. Gameplay is well paced and playtime is sufficient, though another level wouldn't have gone astray. For someone like me who doesn't quite have the patience for pure stealth games, Conviction strikes a nice balance between stealth and action.
What we liked
  • Environments are packed with detail
  • Challenges and weapon upgrades are rewarding
  • Not as frustrating as more traditional stealth games
What we didn't like
  • Can�t stash dead bodies
  • Entire screen goes black and white when in shadow
  • Could have been a tad longer
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 03:36pm 19/4/10
did you manage to try out the coop campaign at all?

nice review, gonna pick it up next week sometime hopefully.
Posted 03:47pm 19/4/10
WTF no pc?
Posted 03:56pm 19/4/10
PC out in like 2 weeks or something, and you gotta deal with Ubi's DRM so it's a no go for me. Also wtf @ game length. I'm getting really f*****g sick of games that you can finish in less time than it takes to watch 2 LOTR movies. $80 for this my ass.
Posted 04:20pm 19/4/10
Lol funny, I was just about to make my video review on this game ... (:
Posted 01:13am 20/4/10
PC out in like 2 weeks or something, and you gotta deal with Ubi's DRM so it's a no go for me. Also wtf @ game length. I'm getting really f*****g sick of games that you can finish in less time than it takes to watch 2 LOTR movies. $80 for this my ass.

$80 to you is not $80 to them, they sell this at a much much lower price than that, Aus as we all know gouges the s*** of the price of games and game publishers do not market to Australia.

I've pre-ordered this for PC from the UK at a cost of 24.99 ($41.50AUD). Saying that you expect more for your $80-$100 purchase is ridiculous, you don't have to pay that much for it.

As for a short SP campaign, not surprised, online MP/co-op is in demand and helps to combat piracy, SP does not. Get used to it.
Posted 11:34pm 19/4/10
Trauma wins.

Oh. why are we stuck in the "the average gamer is under 12" world still.

I agree with the whole product placement argument, But cmon, I thought we'd got past the whole "gamers are kids" view.
Posted 07:56am 20/4/10
Great review but not going into the spec ops missions is a bit of an oversight. Theres at least another 3-4 hrs worth of gameplay in there and teaming up with buddy to synchronise takedowns is nothing short of gaming gold.

In a way it reminds me of the cop buddy movies from 80's where good guys would raid a warehouse for example and they would joke about which goons there going to take down. 'Im gettin to old for this s***'. Maybe thats just me.
Posted 01:10pm 20/4/10
I agree with the whole product placement argument, But cmon, I thought we'd got past the whole "gamers are kids" view.

I'm pretty sure it was a joke :) Nice review!
Posted 05:27pm 20/4/10
awesome review shufti
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