Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review: Splinter Cell Conviction

It’s been four years since Splinter Cell: Double Agent was released across every platform known to man, and while it didn’t live up to our expectations it didn’t take long until Ubisoft announced Splinter Cell: Conviction, the fifth chapter in the story of Sam Fisher. After years of delays and completely rebuilding the game from scratch it’s finally here. So how does it hold up to the kings of the stealth genre? Let’s find out.

Developed by Ubisoft
Published by Ubisoft
Platforms: Xbox 360, PC-DVD

(Reviewed on Xbox 360)
The story in Conviction is divided between two scenarios; the main scenario is the single-player Sam Fisher story and then there’s the secondary co-op multi-player scenario starring the two agents Archer and Kestrel. The main scenario is short but sweet, taking about five to six hours at most to finish, but every single minute spent in Tom Clancy’s universe is worth spending as the story is so incredibly well written that you’ll never want to leave. Amazing plot twists and well crafted events that effects the very view on terrorism as a whole is something that it is obvious that Clancy wanted to achieve with this story and for the most part, he does. Sam Fisher feels human, for the very first time, he feels like a real person. Sure, he has that growly voice that only action heroes have, but he still feels very realistic even to the point that you will surely feel sorry for him when certain revelations comes to show.
The co-op scenario takes four hours at most, but is greatly extended due to the amazing co-op modes available outside the story scenarios. There’s a Hunter mode that plays out like a heavily improved Terrorist Hunt from Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, a mandatory Last Stand horde based mode and a fun Duel mode rewarding you for stealth kills on both the enemies and your previous comrade. I can tell you that I spent more than twelve hours just on the side modes after I’ve finished the story itself, and I will certainly spend some more once I get the time. So don’t worry about the lack of replay value due to a short story, the co-op will have you playing for weeks after you’ve finished the game itself. Also, in case you're worried about replay value I am happy to tell you all that Ubisoft is releasing new weapons every week for you to enjoy, so during the coming weeks Co-op won't get old no matter how much you play it.
The game play is mostly unchanged from the previous Splinter Cell, although some features have been stripped and some added. You can no longer hang between walls only using your legs like the previous games have encouraged you to do, which is a shame, but wouldn’t have worked in a lot of areas anyway, so it’s not a big loss. However, the most important new feature is the mark-and-execute which I know a lot of people though would be a cheap way for taking out enemies, and while it is at some parts, it’s never really mandatory. However, at most times you must be very precise and tactical when placing out your marks, as you can only place them after successfully made a melee kill and then you only get one shot with the execute, miss and you must gain another melee kill. This works surprisingly well and balances the game out.
The difficulty is something that I scratch my head on though, at some parts it’s nearly impossible at Normal, but very doable on Realistic and sometimes it’s the other way around. I feel that there should maybe have been some improved balance there, but it doesn’t really break the game in any big way. However, be careful when continuing a saved game as it sometimes resets your difficulty level, it happened me during my realistic run, meaning that the last few stages was finished on normal even though I had played the first stages on realistic. The visuals in this game are great, it's not the best I've seen on modern day consoles, but it looks very impressive. All the character models moves naturally and the animations on Sam Fisher are truly awesome, especially during interrogation sequences. The voice-acting is top notch in every way, especially Sam Fisher and Andriy Kobin.

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