Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction (2010), video game review.

I’m a big fan of stealth games. Metal Gear Solid 4 made it onto my Top 10 Favorite Games list, the original MGS is one of my favorites, and I always like the odd stealth missions that pop up in most modern first person shooters. As for the Tom Clancy universe of games, those I’m not so familiar. I own and have played through Rainbow Six Vegas 2, but that’s pretty much it; I own the first Splinter Cell on the Gamecube but I never play it. But none-the-less I was very excited back in what I think was E3 ’09 when they were showing the Conviction gameplay demo.
But now its been over a year since it came out and all that I’ve played of it is the demo and five minutes of the co-op with a friend. I don’t really now why I haven’t played it sooner, but anyways now I’ve played through it.
Read on to see my thoughts on the game…

The Good and The Bad.

By far my favorite part about Conviction are the level concepts. Almost all of the levels are amazing. One level has you prowling the streets of D.C. during a controlled power outage, while another is a flash-back to when you were in Iraq. While many of the levels have been done before, and maybe even better (especially the power outage levels), it was cool to see them through different eyes. Even though the power outage levels reminded me heavily of Modern Warfare 2 it was cool to play them as just one sneaky man, instead of one man out of many in the army.
One thing that did annoy me though about the early levels was that the all had very similar structuring; you would sneak through the level, and then they always ended with you interrogating someone. These isn’t a huge problem, but it did start to feel like I was doing the exact same thing several times in a row.

One cool idea that Splinter Cell: Conviction puts forward is the “Mark and Execute” system. How it works is that every gun has X “Marks” (you can upgrade some of them to have more) and you can use them to place a markers on the heads of X enemies. This means that you can see where their going and such, but it also allows you finish them off. Once you kill someone using your hands you are able to “Execute” all visible marked enemies in a stylish slow-motion sequence in which control of the game is taken away.
On paper this idea sounds awesome. You’re one dude, you run into a building, mark a bunch guys, then kill a guy with your bare hands, and finally wipe out the rest of the enemies. Sadly it doesn’t always go down like that. The system works great if there is only as many enemies as you have “Marks,” plus the one guy to assassinate, but if there are any more you are left out in the open. Many a time it would happen that I would “Mark” a bunch of guys, but there’d still be a handful left. I would roll into the room, assassinate someone, then I would either hit “Execute” not realizing that some of my “Marks” had run off into another room, or I would realize it and have to desperately unmark people and the mark other people, and by then I would almost be dead. The whole system would have worked a lot better if were more like V.A.T.S. in Fallout 3, where the game pauses while you line up your shots.

Another cool idea was the whole projector thing. Instead of little text popping up in the corner of your screen telling you your objective, its instead projected on to the walls. Little movie-like cutscenes are also done this way. A little more on this later…

The gameplay graphics are really good. They didn’t look life-like so to speak (I don’t think that’s what they were going for), but they were gritty and shiny, and they fit the game perfectly. And armed with one of the best cameras I’ve seen in recent times (that is the cutscene cameras) they are beautiful to behold.
The only flaw in the graphics is in the facial animations. Conviction has some of the worst lip-syncing I have seen in a game to come out in the last couple of years. All the mouths do is move up and down, and once in while the sides twitch.

Both music and the voice acting are really good.
Just like the graphics they music fits the game like a glove. Filled with dark and ominous tones, or more intense action music, I never had to turn down the music.
As good as the voice acting is (and its good) the story was still hurt by a multitude of things. As I mentioned above the facial animations are a mess. Also the story is told in a weird third-person narrative, by your friend and ally Vic who is mysteriously held captive. For some reason this man knows everything about you and even what you think. It would have been better if Sam Fisher himself had told the story, and seeing as it never says why Vic is captured or telling Fisher’s story it wouldn’t have changed the story at all. Another thing was the above mentioned projector idea, while the idea is really cool, and mostly well done, there were a few sequences when it was just stupid. These were when Sam’s feelings are projected up on a wall. And his emotions were always so obvious that it seemed like the game might have thought I was stupid. e.g. In one cutscene Sam gets angry and shoves a bunch of stuff of a desk, the game felt the need to project the word “Anger” up on the wall. The last thing that hurts the story is the story itself. Spy story’s are supposed to be tense and thrilling and good, but either the story was boring, or I didn’t really know what was going on. I really wanted to like Sam Fisher’s latest story, but it just didn’t really have anything going for it.

In a game that you were meant to be badass I never truly felt it. This I think is because of the combat. Not only was the enemy AI pretty bad–I saw several enemy throw grenades at their feet–but also the controls, and guns themselves conspired to make me feel less like a badass a more like an idiot with a gun.
Everything about aiming in this game is terrible. First off, the least of my gripes, is that you zoom in by clicking in the right stick and you reload by clicking the left. This isn’t a huge problem but I prefer not using right stick click to zoom. Another thing is that if you want to move and be zoomed in at the same time then you can only shuffle slowly forward. Also the guns aim is so bad that you can only really get off one, maybe two, shots accurately, and this is only enough to kill if it was a headshot and sometimes even then it won’t be enough.
As I said before when talking about “Mark and Execute” if you don’t finish off everybody at once then you left out in the open, well the bad gunplay doesn’t help. And to top it off, I think that the enemies deal you more damage, so lots of times I would hit “Execute” and then be gunned down.

It isn’t the best stealth game out their, nor the best action, or spy game. But it does do some cool stuff, and is worth checking out if you’re a fan of the sub-genre. But don’t go in expecting greatness.

Visual: I really liked the graphics, but the facial animations sucked.

Sound: Good music and voice acting, nothing to complain about really.

Gameplay: The combat was fluid, the “Mark and Execute” system could use some adjustments, and the AI wasn’t very good.

Worth Your Money: The campaign is maybe 8 hours long, but once you beat there really isn’t any reason to go back and play it again, other than customizing your weapons. There is also an offline (and online) co-op campaign and multiplayer.

Console: Xbox 360 and PC.

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal.

Parental Rating: M/17+

Overall Score: 7.75/10


Posted on August 2, 2011, in 2010, PC, Review, Video Game, Xbox 360 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Good blog! I really love how it is simple on my eyes and the data are well written. I am wondering how I could be notified when a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your RSS feed which must do the trick! Have a great day! “A rut is a grave with the ends knocked out.” by Laurence J. Peter.

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