Review by Derelict_Shado
Definitely Sam's best outing yet
After putting at least if not more than 20 hours into the game I think its time for a review.
Graphics and Animation -
The graphics in the full game compared to the demo are better and much more polished, and I think people will be happy with the way the game looks. The lighting effects are also really great which is good since we are talking about Splinter Cell here, but with the black and white filter sometimes it can be hard to tell once your in the shadows if certain spots are okay for you to move to which can end up in you getting spotted and getting rather quickly. The animations however are top notch, the way Sam and his enemies move is just amazing and very realistic. You will notice just how good the animations are in one of the missions where your chasing someone and watching how Sam slides over cars, jumps fences, slides under trucks etc it really is almost like your watching a movie. Thankfully my entire experience with Conviction I never encountered any type of graphic issues. I did have a few animation bugs when I would run at a pipe and hit A before I was prompted to because Sam would just snap onto the pipe and the camera zoomed in really fast where I couldn't see what was going on. Overall the graphics are great and the animation is damn near perfect and has almost zero amount of bugs or issues.
Here's the big one because its hard to review this part of the game for the fact there's so many ways to play the game. You can try to run and gun, or move silently and take out all your enemies or you could even try to avoid everyone and get to your objective. Conviction added some very nice new features to the game such as the PEC system, you have 3 different list of around 15 or so different challenges and each one earns you PEC points. Lets say you one is to grab an enemy from a ledge and to do it 5 times once you complete that challenge it goes to level 2 and now you have to do it 10 more times to get even more points. You can use your PEC points to either purchases different attachments for your guns or increase the radius of your gadgets all the way to customizing your character with different pieces of armor, helmets, ammo pouches but it all depends on the outfit you select but the PEC system is a very good feature added and I think should stay with the Splinter Cell series from now on.
The cover system is another feature, the cover system along with the animations Ubisoft created is a damn near masterpiece. Most games that have a cover system have technical issues with getting suck or not working properly. That's not the case here, the cover system works beautifully with fast fluid perfect motions. When you start to first use the cover system you will notice things pop up like "jump" or "climb" but once you get use to the environments you can actually hit A (Xbox 360 version) before you reach the object and Sam will run and jump and grab on to what ever you was aiming at which is nice if your trying to get away from the enemies and not have to worry about trying to get "Jump" to pop up on the screen.
Stealth this time around is much harder than it was before in previous Splinter Cell games simply because the AI isn't as dumb as rocks. On Realistic you really have to be carefully and watch your surroundings because the AI will hunt you down and will find you if your not careful. This is where your gadgets come in handy to lure enemies away so you can either get passed them or flank them just to come up behind them to snap there neck. Stealth is very much alive in this game, however "Ghosting" through a level IS possible but it will take lots of time and patience this time around. But there are a few levels where its just not possible at all which might disappoint some hardcore fans. There's also missions where you can't get detected at all where you have to go through a place with about 65 different lasers and tons of cameras as well as guards you have to avoid or grab and take them into the shadows and dispose of them.
Mark and Execute is a brand new feature to Splinter Cell but it has its good's and bad's. First off the system works pretty well, besides the fact sometimes when you use it Sam will often shoot through any object no matter what it is and this happens pretty often while your in cover. I see this feature as a great opportunity to use if your in danger and know you have no chance of living and don't want to restart but the bad thing is it can be abused very easy. You could simply use a pistol the whole game and stealth kill one enemy just to M&E 4 more and if you do this throughout the entire game you're not going to get the full experience of the game because it won't take you long at all to beat it playing that way and won't get to see all Conviction has to offer.
For the sake of spoilers I'm not going to really comment on this part of the game but I will tell you this. Everyone knows Sam is out for revenge and to find the man who killed his daughter, if that appeals to you then I can tell you the story does a good job of getting Sam to where he needs to be as well as a few plot twisters. If that doesn't appeal to you at all then you will be strongly disappointed in the story. I can say though the length of the story mode really depends on how you play, run and gunner will end up beating it within 5 hours where stealth players will end up taking 8-13 hours depending on how stealth you are and what difficulty your playing on.
This is where hardcore Splinter Cell fans are going to spend more of there time. I'm going to break it down by each game mode and tell you what I think.
Hunter mode is a great mode for players who love to be stealthy, its best played on Realistic because the game will challenge your how good you are at using stealth. The great part about this mode is if you do get detected the game will automatically add 10 more enemies for you to eliminate so you really need to be careful here. After you kill all 10 people you advanced to the next part of the map and do the same thing and there's about 3-4 areas per map depending on which map you select and the AI is placed different each time so there's tons of replay value here. This mode is best played with 2 people but can also be done Solo for more a challenging experience.
Last Stand is a mode for newer Splinter Cell gamers, its like Hoard mode from Gears of War but instead you have to protect the EMP. This game mode is fun if you just feel like shooting the hell out of everyone you see but its pretty much impossible to use stealth here since your defending the EMP. On realistic by myself I was struggling to stay alive for more than a few minutes so if you play this game mode and want to play on realistic I suggest you play with a friend because it can get intense.
Infiltration is by all means meant for the hardcore crowd. There's lasers hidden everywhere which can only be seen by using the new Sonar Goggles as well as cameras placed around the map in different spots. Same rules apply to this as Hunter mode with the exception of being detected. If your detected its game over and you must start over so this mode is perfect for pushing your stealth ability. This as well as Hunter mode is best played with 2 players because your really going to need a partner to watch your back because sometimes the enemies are in groups (even playing by yourself) and having that extra helping hand is a big plus. This mode is by far my favorite mode to play and I don't think the hardcore fans will be disappointed.
Co-op Story - After completing the entire co-op story on realistic I have to say I'm amazed how much fun the co-op story really is. You really need to depend on your partner for help and just makes Splinter Cell Conviction so much better. Each mission takes about an hour to complete (On realistic) so your looking at a 4 hours mode here. The only disappointing thing about the co-op story would be the last two missions but the last one is one of the best also. The reason I say that is because the last 2 missions I found myself shooting them up more than trying to be sneaky but it didn't change the fact of the last mission and especially the ending is just pure awesome. I think more hardcore fans will enjoy the co-op story more than the actual campaign since it doesn't force you to run and gun like the single player does some time.
Face Off - While it may not be SvM it truly is the next best thing. However matchmaking has the enemy density on normal which can turn face off into a death match of AI along with one other player. Where face off really shines is the private matches because if you set the enemy density to low you almost get that SvM feeling but in the terms of Spy vs Spy vs Merc. Overall its a great competitive game mode if played in private match especially if you turn gadgets off (which means no sonar goggles as well) and pistols only because that's where stealth comes into play and makes face-off the best 1 vs 1 game mode I ever played.
Now that I've said plenty of good things about the game its time to get to the bad parts about the game. One thing that really disappoints me in Conviction is the freedom of movement, what I mean by that is in previous Splinter Cell games you could climb on just about everything and make insane jumps to different areas but in Conviction that's not the case. I found my self several times standing on a box or something similar and there be another object stacked on top and I wouldn't be able to climb up simply because Ubisoft said I couldn't. That also includes the cover system because even though it IS the best cover system I've ever used if I start to run away because I got detected and went to jump on something only to find out Ubisoft won't let me, then I end up dying and having to restart. The black and white filter isn't the greatest thing implemented in this game, it does work pretty well for the most part but can often be annoying and not to mention dumb down the graphics because the environments are always better to look at in full color rather than black and white. I did get use to it after playing the game so much but I would rather prefer a meter or something than having to play the game in mostly black and white.
This may just be because the game isn't out yet but the few times I did get to play the game online sometimes it would lag horribly and other times it would run fine but soon as bullets started flying the game slowed down and got a little laggy. I'm not going to put this against my score on the game just because I'm sure there still working on the servers and should be good when the game launches.
This only really applies to people who like to be stealthy. I'm not going to say tons of times but there are quite a few times where you are forced go guns blazing and have no option of stealth what so ever. Even if it does fit well for the story I think there should have been an option to take a more stealth approach like most of the game does than forcing the player to blast everyone at certain points of the game. Its not a game breaker but most hardcore fans won't be happy about it and probably won't end up playing the story again or at least those select missions because of it.
Closing Comments -
Overall Splinter Cell Conviction is a damn good action-stealth game, its very easy to pick up and play and will make new Splinter Cell fans and hardcore fans both happy with everything it has to offer. If your not the action type of guy you will end up playing the story just once and spend the rest of your time playing co-op or Deniable Ops. Even though Ubisoft changed the direction of Splinter Cell I think they did a very good job with doing it to please everyone and even if you doubt the game because of the new direction I suggest you give the game a try first because I think it will be one of the top games of 2010.
-Co-op modes to please both new and hardcore Splinter Cell fans
-Freedom of movement
-Black and White filter
-Mark & Execute*
* I put this under bad because it can ruin the game more than it can help the game, it has its good uses and it fun to use but overall can be a "win" button for some players.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (US, 04/13/10)
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