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Review: Splinter Cell Conviction - Xbox 360

by Steven Williamson on 15 April 2010, 11:57 3.75

Tags: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction, Xbox 360, Action/Adventure

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It's Fisher, but not as we know it

What is it about?
An investigation into his daughter’s death unwittingly leads former agent Sam Fisher to discover he’s been betrayed by his former employer, the Third Echelon. Now a renegade, Fisher finds himself in a race against time to thwart a deadly terrorist plot that threatens millions.

Taking place from the third person perspective, gameplay blends stealth and combat as you sneak around in the shadows out of sight eliminating enemies with a range of deadly techniques, including the new hand-to-hand takedown. Other Fisher skills include a Death From Above move and the ability to kill while dangling from a window frame. The elite operative also has access to a range of gadgets, including sonar goggles, a sticky camera and remote mines, as well as more traditional shooter weapons, such as pistols, machine-guns and frag grenades.

The co-op campaign mode acts as a prequel to the single player storyline, and there are also four co-op battle modes on Xbox live or split-screen to play through.

Sam Fisher has changed. He’s not as clever, as complex, or half as sneaky as before and doesn’t boast the range of moves, or have the same impressive range of gadgets at his disposal, that he used to have in previous games. From a fan of the series, that is quite disappointing, but perhaps a personal preference rather than a big game flaw. Nevertheless, this isn't going to be the glowing review that I hoped I'd be writing.

The influence of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six team on the game can be seen throughout the single player campaign, which is by far the weakest part of this sixth Splinter Cell package. Though gameplay is still primarily about stealth, it’s been watered down and diluted with cinematic moments and unfamiliarly open combat sequences, where run-and-gun is just as likely to be successful as sneaking around in the shadows and snapping the necks of enemies. Such is the obvious desire to appeal to the shooter crowd, and such is the influence of the Rainbow Six team on Splinter Cell Conviction, that there’s even a whole level that features no stealth whatsoever as you take on soldiers in Iraq during one of Sam’s flashbacks. It's not just that mission though: Splinter Cell Conviction feels very different to Splinter Cell games of old.

Indeed, the targeting system, which has been implemented extremely well, encourages you to ditch stealth tactics totally and Mark and Execute multiple enemies in exactly the same way as past Rainbow Six games. Personally, I was hoping for dozens of different ways to tackle enemies, and a more stealthy experience. It turns out, however, that aside from mowing enemies down with weapons or using some of the few gadgets (EMP Grenades, Remote Mines etc) there’s relatively few ways to use the environment to your advantage.

While some levels have multiple tiers allowing you to execute Death from Above takedowns, or hang from a window and perform a ledge kill, others simply require you to move from cover to cover and get behind an enemy into their blind spot to take them down. I you don't want to do that,however, you'll be able to fight your way through with a machine gun and a pistol just like any traditional shooter. That's going to appeal to some gamers, sure, but as a fan of the series it doesn't appeal to me, nor is it as challenging as other Splinter Cell games, not by a long way. If you’re spotted you can often just run up to an enemy and press B to take him down, making the use of stealth redundant and not entirely necessary to complete the campaign.

Continued overleaf...