Splinter Cell games have been around for a very long time now, but with good reason. I bet it feels like only yesterday since you got your first stealth kill and what do you know, you were hooked. Well, here is another one in an array of Splinter games. It is Conviction that completely re-invents the Splinter Cell series. Conviction has made the stealth about speed and turns it into a more fast paced stealth title.
The story begins following the evens of Double Agent which, if you are like me, you didn't finish. Don't be concerned as you are brought up to speed Double quick (pardon the pun). Sam Fisher's daughter Sarah was murdered, Sam left the Government agency Third Echelon and it turns out that everything that Sam ever thought he knew was wrong, now that is a bit of a kick in the teeth for our Sam! Oh, yes, there is also an impending terrorist attack on the U.S.A. After leaving Third Echelon, Sam goes rouge and he is sure not happy.
Conviction stands out from the games that preceded with the pace of the action. It is clever, quick and intense and you always seen to be moving ahead. When you begin a new level, you are greeted with a cut scene advancing the story a little further, which you can skip if you are replaying the game for a second or third time. The cut scenes are nicely laid out and voiced, at least once anyway. Projected text in the game seamlessly projects Sam's thoughts, objectives and important details on a nearby wall. At times it even shows clips of Sam's past so you can continue playing and learn a bit more about the game on the way, very cool.
Along with the fairly short single player campaign comes a multiplayer campaign to play with friends. This sees you play completely new levees in a co-op mode and a terrorist hunt mode which will keep you busy for a while to come yet, trust me.
Unlike most other Splinter Cell games, Sam is not the stalker, he is more of a hunter. When Sam is in the shadows, he cannot be seen, so the colour bleeds out of the screen. When you are back in light and can be seen, colour oozes back on to your screen. Seamless, clever and very effective. Splinter Cell has one of the best cover systems I've ever seen. You never get locked against any piece of cover and moving from cover to cover is simple, fast and fun.
Now, I bet you are thinking, but what if I am caught? Hide behind cover, in the shadows, toss a grenade and you will be safe. Should you chose to fight back then you may be in trouble as if you are up against three or four guys, then it doesn't matter how highly trained you are because you will be killed if you don't take cover. Splinter Cell also has the addition of mark and execute option. Tag enemies and then when they are out in the open, hit execute and you will get an instant string of kills. You must preform a hand to hand take-down before you use it though so it is well earned.
Well however good it is, it is not perfect. When using mark and execute you sometimes shoot through walls which feels a little tacky. The interrogation scenes are little more than slow interactive cut scene than anything else. At some points, I felt that the wherever I hid, the guards knew where I was, it was almost like they were forcing me into direct combat which annoyed me. There is one level in Iraq (a flashback) which has no stealth and almost made me put the game down. The main story is really short and this feels like the biggest drawback here, but remember there is more to it.
Overall, I am very happy with Conviction, it has adapted effortlessly to the modern world of gaming, I welcome it with open arms!