Review by DarkReign2552
"It offers everything the old series had and a whole new game all at the same time."
The highly controversial 5th installment of the Splinter Cell has finally arrived. The game takes a whole new direction on the infamous Clancy series along with the entire stealth genre as a whole. Sam is back boasting a new host of weapons, talents, and his own personal story of revenge. Some fans are in support. Some fans are in complete disgust and dismay. As a fan of the series from the very beginning, here's my stance on the situation.
3 years prior to Conviction, Sam is informed by Lambert that his daughter has been killed by a drunk driver. Later, while infiltrating a dangerous local terrorist organization, he is forced to kill the man who is his boss and his best friend in the world. Given the events that have transpired, Sam quits Third Echelon and roams the planet attempting to escape his past. One day he recieves a call from an old accomplice that turns his world upside down.
In the early games, the storyline was never a large element. You were given Agent Sam Fisher who was on a mission to save a country, save the world, whatever... it was just something thrown together for an excuse to make interesting levels to feature an exciting new style of stealth gameplay. Double Agent began to focus on the actual development of the characters and Conviction takes that development up several notches. This game throws away the rules of the past game and delves into a highly interactive and cinematic gameplay experience that revolves completely around Sam and his inability to cope with his anger reasonably. It shows. Even as plot twists in the story are revealed early on, you still find yourself struggling to decide whether you believe it or not.
My only complaint with the story is a few of the key elements involved in the story are mentioned or shown a couple times and forgotten about quickly. You're left wondering about all of the little details that occur after the ending and it almost leave you feeling like you never actually accomplished your actual mission.
The co-op, just like in Chaos Theory, is a separate campaign with it's own distinct storyline. I'm not going to get into it because I haven't been able to to spend as much time with it as I would like, but hey. Two original campaigns in one game? I'm not going to complain about that regardless of it's shortcomings.
The graphics are some that have to be taken at face value. The game runs on a heavily modified version of the Unreal 2 engine and that limits the resolution and amount of details that can be added to the game due to it's age. The benefit, however, is it eliminates a lot of the graphical quirks that games running on Unreal 3 suffer from (I.E Texture pop-ins and excessively shiny surfaces." The graphics themselves give off a dark and gritty feel to the world, which I personally believe gives it a element of realism to it's design. The only complaint I have is the transition to Black & White when in the shadows. You get used to it quickly, but the texture quality does decrease slightly when you do. The other new detail is the projection based story-telling. Rather than a cutscene, you see various scenes and objects projected on the floor and walls around you. Unfortunately, they're difficult to make out at times due to objects on the walls that obscure the image. Fortunately, they're very few limited in use.
Music: The soundtrack is one of the best in the industry. That's coming from somebody that buys every videogame soundtrack he can find and rips the music straight from the game when they don't exist. The music is beautifully crafted and strategically placed to maximize the impact of the cinematic moments.
Sound Effects: An area that's never disappointed in the series. The guns sound like guns, footsteps sound like footsteps, the terrorists sound like terrorists, and Michael Ironside sounds like he's going to kill you in your sleep. The only thing that's disappointing about it is your best chance of survival is to make as little noise as possible. The voice work that Mr. Ironside does on Sam Fisher is taken to an unprecedented level. You can truly feel the hatred and pain that Sam is experiencing as the story progresses. the voice work for Archer and Kestrel are also extremely well-done. They really draw you into their story and accurately portray just the kind of agents they designed to be.
This is where the game becomes controversial. It's common for there to be yays and nays on any game, but when the two warring factions consist of dedicated series veterans, you have a tough fight ahead and that's exactly what's going on with Conviction.
They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but Sam fisher begs to differ. Conviction reinvents the series with a new fast-paced series not too different from Cover-based shooters like Gears of War and Ghost Recon. You're given a large variety of weapons, all with optional upgrades included as well as a handful of useful gadgets (though regrettably the sticky shocker is no longer among the living. R.I.P shocky.) On top of that, you're given a new Mark & Execute feature that works exactly like it sounds. When given an execute point (attained through the hand to hand takedown of an enemy) you can select as many enemies as the gun allows at a time and eliminate them in a cinematic moment with a single press of the Y button.
The controversy of the series is in the belief that there's a lack of the stealth that made the series famous. I can honestly say none of that is missing. Although there are a few scenes in the game where you absolutely have to kill the enemies to proceed, most can by bypassed with careful timing and the correct use of gadgets like the new portable EMP. I've done runs through the main game with near complete stealth and non-lethality wherever possible. The game focuses less on the elements of making noise and sitting for minutes at a time waiting for the enemy to move just enough to sneak through an area and focuses more on your own ability to adapt and survive which is a definite improvement over the past games in the series.
My complaints about the new multiplayer modes are limited, but they are still existent. My biggest complaint, naturally, is the lack of Spies vs. mercs. It was one of the most unique multiplayer experiences in the last console generation and had an impressive following of fans that were left out in the cold. Even excluding the SvM mode, the game was hurt by the lack of any PvP modes.
What you're left with are two modes that are the equivalent of GoW's horde mode and ODST's Firefight mode. The only difference between the two is in one you and your partner (optional) simply kill enemies until they're all gone and the other is a CTF style game where you have to protect an EMP device from being destroyed by the enemies. Both are extremely challenging and extremely fun in their own rights, but the long play time requirement can be a turn off to some.
Between the two campaigns and the two lengthy multiplayer gametypes, there's plenty of diverse fun to be had for everybody. As is tradition with Splinter Cell, there's always a different way to beat a scenario. Half a dozen playthroughs so far just on the single player campaign alone and I'm still finding different way to beat each scenario in the game. That adds up to a lot of replay value to last me for a long while.
Final Word: Two campaigns, two co-op multiplayer modes, new gameplay built from the ground up with the classic style still hanging on by it's side, excellent music and sound effects, graphics that don't blow you away, but offer a gritty, realistic look all the same, and nearly endless replayability. Add in the pissed off Sam Fisher with the same dark humor that has been by his side since the beginning and you have everything you could want in a Splinter Cell game save the dearly missed Spy Vs. Merc's game.
Final Score: 9/10
--Rent or buy--
Definitely a buy for any fan of the series or anybody that enjoys cover-based or stealth gaming. Not recommend for people that prefer competitive online gaming PvP style.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 04/21/10
Game Release: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (US, 04/13/10)
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