Making the Case: Splinter Cell Conviction

Making the Case returns this week.  As always I present the facts and you make the decision. Up this week: Splinter Cell: Conviction for the Xbox 360.

It’s been a long time between Sam Fisher’s last outing but he’s finally back in this Xbox 360 exclusive.  Conviction picks up pretty much after the end of Splinter Cell: Double Agent, with Sam now on his own hiding out from Third Echelon.  Things pick up when he’s tracked down by his former friend and associate, Anna Grimsdottir.  What starts out as a simple revenge plot against those that killed his daughter, soon escalates into something much bigger entirely.  So how does this newest Splinter Cell fair?  Is it worth the purchase?  Check out my thoughts after the jump.

Conviction isn’t a complete retooling of the franchise although it has been given a huge makeover.  Personally, I think it works really well.  Sam is no longer slow and plodding.  He’s been made faster and even more deadly similar to a Jason Bourne or something you’d see from the show 24.  Since he’s no longer with the US government, he’s not bound by the rules and regulations anymore.  While familiar stealth elements remain, Splinter Cell Conviction makes Sam even more deadly.  Perform a hand to hand takedown and you’re given the ability to execute enemies.  Depending on the weapon you’re using, you can mark different enemies and when you have a line of sight on them, you can do a stylish and slow motion execution move on them.  A lot of people were worried that this would be an “instant win” move, but it really isn’t.  You still have to earn it and it’s a great fail safe for when you get in a tough situation.  Ubisoft has also introduced color desaturation when you’re hidden by darkness replacing the light meter.  It’s a really cool effect, but the thing I don’t like about it, is that it strips the detail and color from the level.  For a game built around being hidden, most of the time you’re in a black and white level.  I do like the inclusion of the projection system they’ve implemented.  Instead of throwing text on your screen, Ubisoft details your mission objectives and Sam’s thoughts on the walls of the environment.  It’s a really cool effect and allows you to continue with what you’re doing without having to stop and look at another screen.  Finally, Interrogations are scripted events that allow you to interact with the environment.  I thought there would be a bit more freedom here, but the level of polish with the scripted moves is really cool.

The campaign isn’t the longest unfortunately.  Truth be told, the single player storyline will probably run you about 6 hours.  It is however, a lot of fun and you can go back and replay any level you want.  I find myself going back every now and again to finish challenges, and experience the level.  The co-op campaign is a lot of fun as well and acts as a prequel to the main storyline.  This will also run you about 6 hours.  At higher difficulties, both campaigns will probably add an hour to that total. 

In addition to the single player and co-op campaigns, you also have a multiplayer element.  There are 4 game modes to choose from and they can be played locally, by yourself, or over Xbox Live.  I find myself coming back to these modes more than anything else and are a blast to play through with friends.  You have Hunter, which tasks you with eliminating 10 enemies from the map.  If you’re spotted, they call in reinforcements maing it more difficult and each map has 4 different zones to clear.  Last Stand  has you defending an EMP from waves of attackers.  Personally, I just don’t think it fits that well as this style of gameplay doesn’t involve attacking from the shadows.  It’s more of a shooter game type.  Face Off is your only competitive mode.  It pits you against another agent with NPC enemies around the map.  Finally, Infiltration is like Hunter, only if you’re spotted or give your position away, the mission ends.  It’s truly for the hardcore.

Ubisoft as done a good job supporting the game post launch.  Every week after the game released they’d put up new weapons, gadgets and armor for free.  For significant DLC, Ubisoft only released one map pack for the game.  The downloadable content came with four maps and 6 achievements for 10 dollars.  In my opinion, if you enjoy the main game, this map pack won’t let you down.  The maps are a lot of fun and offer great gameplay.  Unfortunately, I think this is the last and only major DLC for Conviction.  Unfortunate, but at least we got something. 

If you have an Xbox 360 and enjoy stealth action games, you won’t want to miss Splinter Cell: Conviction.  The quality is much higher than what we saw in the previous game, Splinter Cell: Double Agent.  So if you’ve felt scorned with how the last game played out, check this one out as it’s closer to what you remember from the series.  While it may be a shorter game, there’s enough content and replayability here to keep you going for a while.  Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait for another 4 years for the next one.

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