Review by Goukakyuu91

"SC: Conviction - burn brightly without burning out"

I decided to write a concise review of this game, even now, in 2012. Why? Because I can, and because the game deserves it, with all the negativity going around about it. I will take into account that this game is from 2010, and adjust grading accordingly. So here it is.

STORY (5/10)

The game revolves around Sam Fisher - the legendary Splinter Cell - trying to find his daughter, whom he presumed dead until he got a tip-off from Grimsdottir, his longtime associate from the company he left, Third Echelon. Besides that, he's also trying to prevent a criminal organization from wreaking havoc in Washington, D.C.

To be honest, the story is a bit confusing, as well as predictable. You get awkwardly positioned flash-forwards thrown in your face a few times, but they don't serve any purpose, other than to spoil the plot right up to the last seconds. It seems as though those scenes were supposed to be edited out, but were left in.

The story constantly switches between unrelated events, trying to convince you that they're linked. The truth is, they're only linked because Sam keeps assaulting everyone he thinks had anything to do with his daughter's supposed death.

Not only that, but the story is also very brief. Some people, including me, managed to beat the game in about four hours on the easiest difficulty setting. Of course, the game is meant to be played on the 'realistic' difficulty setting, and you get used to it before long.

So, the story is confusing, since I still don't know exactly what the criminal organization was trying to accomplish. It's also predictable, though it is slightly emotional at certain points, which is something I can appreciate. Overall, it's a bit too tedious to follow.

GAMEPLAY (8/10)

The gameplay is quite nice, and here's why. First off, the game isn't as stealth-based as the previous installments, opting for a more tactical approach instead of making you wait until your enemies go get a soda in order for you to kill or interrogate them. Speaking of interrogation, you can now interrogate enemies more brutally, and you can pick the objects that you want to slam them into. Sadly, I'm immune to that kind of violence, so I don't get a thrill out of it, but someone else might. The cover system works well: just hold LT to stick to surfaces, look at a different surface, press A, and you'll slide, walk or roll there. A new gameplay element has been added, called Mark and Execute. It allows you to target a number of enemies, who you can then execute through headshots. Thankfully, it only works after you take out an enemy with your hands, otherwise the game would be a breeze. It's a nice addition – see it as a reward for being stealthy.

What did disappoint me, however, was the fact that the game doesn't always give you the opportunity to play furtively. In fact, it takes a turn for the worse the further you get in the game. Eventually, there are practically no tubes to hang onto, no vents to crawl into, and so on. The lack of stealth gadgets is also something that should be punished. Where is the sticky shocker? It's nowhere to be found. Even the sticky camera doesn't release gas anymore – you can play a song and then detonate it, but why is that? You've already got frag grenades and remote detonation mines! Why would you want to kill one or two enemies at most, and consequently expose yourself? The most entertaining levels of the campaign are the ones where you can avoid detection, but you can't even shut down turrets without having to find their control mechanisms.

There are a number of weapons that are simply useless. Why use the AKS-74U when you can use the – in all aspects superior – AK-47? Most weapons don't include a silencer, either, so you only have a choice between a few weapons if you want to go stealth.

I've noticed people going crazy about the HUD, but I have no idea why. Yes, it's barely noticeable, as you no longer have meters that tell you how much sound you're making or how visible you are. It simply works and that's it. I didn't enjoy what the visibility meter was replaced by, though: the screen now turns black and white when you're hidden.

The enemy AI is, well, not so great. Enemies, when looking for you, will usually walk a few feet in circles before exclaiming that the area's clear. Setting the difficulty to realistic only decreases the time it takes for them to see you. Nevertheless, the AI isn't that bad.

The multiplayer is fun, but again, it only takes you a few hours to complete it. The level design also isn't that great if you're competing with your friend, as he can often camp in places that make him nearly invisible. Add to that an AK-47, and you might as well give up. There are some other game modes, though, which can take a while to complete, so kudos for that. Some of the clothing seems superfluous. You can wear a technician's overall along with a gas mask, but why would you, when you can wear the Splinter Cell suit or a shirt and pants with the classic night vision goggles?

GRAPHICS (7.5/10)

The graphics are fine, though for a game from 2010, they're nothing special. Sadly, the designers haven't made full use of what their engine can do. Sometimes you can see a nice skyline from where you stand, but you're usually surrounded by walls. Not only that, but the environment turns black and white when you're invisible to the enemy. It's something that could've and should've been replaced with the old system from previous Splinter Cells. Black and white confined spaces – literally colorless and bland. The effects of your sonar goggles, and the other effects, for that matter, are nicely done. Enemies look acceptable, pretty good for a game from 2010. Lighting also looks good. There's not much else to say; the graphics do their job pretty well.

SOUNDTRACK (8/10)

I haven't really noticed the soundtrack. Sure, some of the pieces stand out from the others, but you're mostly listening to the old generic ‘spy action' type music, often associated with the Bourne movie trilogy. Only the main theme and some others stand out as original.

Voices sound clear and the sound effects are good, but what I'd like to hear is a change in tone when something of interest happens, like in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. As it stands, it lacks that little ‘touch'.

The acting is excellent; particularly Tom Reed's voice actor, James A. Woods, does a good job. The actors for Anna Grimsdottir and Irving Lambert do a good job as well, but nothing special. I'm sad to say that Michael Ironside as Sam Fisher doesn't do it for me, but then, I don't think he ever did. He uses very subtle, almost nonexistent intonation in his voice, which doesn't follow where Ubisoft is taking the series. That's why I welcome the new voice for Sam in the form of Eric Johnson.

CONCLUSION

Even though not all fans of the series like this game, it really is worth playing. Picture it as a playground for you to do what you want. Want to be stealthy? You can, though not as much as you should be able to. Want to go commando on their asses? You can, as long as you stay away from your last known position. Or you could take the path in between. The game has hardly any replay value, though, and the shortness of the single-player and multiplayer campaigns doesn't help. I suggest you rent the game first to see if it's to your liking.

Overall, the grade averages out to a 7.1 out of 10, mainly due to the plot.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 08/20/12

Game Release: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (EU, 04/16/10)


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