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Xbox 360 Review: Splinter Cell: Conviction

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Ubisoft Montreal's Splinter Cell: Conviction is an incendiary departure from a series typically dedicated to carefully calculated covert ops. Hardcore fans of the series might dislike its shooter elements and accessible gameplay, but Splinter Cell: Conviction is a remarkable evolution that unleashes Sam Fisher's fangs.

Conviction begins as Sam's quest to find his daughter's killer but gradually becomes a convoluted abomination. Scriptwriter Richard Dansky refers to the story as "twisty," but "straightforward" would have matched Sam's primal vengeance better. As the story progresses it becomes easier to follow the luminous text on buildings instead of the purpose behind the objectives.

Creative Director Max Beland's favourite saying about the philosophy of Conviction is "let's make the player feel like a predator, not like a grandmother." Guards in previous Splinter Cell games were fearsome opponents to be approached quietly or from the shadows. In Conviction you can run at two guards without drawing your gun and prevail. The philosophical change is daring and challenges Conviction's stealth genre status. Is smashing through doors and leaving dead bodies in the open stealthy? Debatable, but it's damn fun.

Fisher is indeed a predator but has less in common with a lion and more in common with a Tyrannosaurus Rex with three different grenades, goggles with night and sonar vision, a pistol, a shotgun, and the ability to make its prey think it is still in one place when it has actually snuck up behind them. Considering these advantages, Ubisoft wisely starts players off with less and gradually gives them more.

By the end your abilities are godlike; amen. The "Last Known Position" feature casts a permeable outline of the last place your enemies saw you. While strong players can abuse stupid enemies shooting at Fisher's ghost, it makes sense for enemies to shoot the last thing they saw. Conviction's sonar goggles covers the environment in shadows and shrouds enemies in light. As long as you remain still you can easily see your opponents through walls to utilize the mark and execute ability.

Mark and execute is Splinter Cell: Conviction's flagship. This ability allows you to mark targets from any distance and instantly kill those targets from a closer range. To balance this mighty ability you must first physically take down a guard when standing right next to him. You also begin with the ability to kill two marked enemies but eventually can execute four. Producer Alexandre Parizeau is adamant that mark and execute is "not a win button." He's right; it's a "badass" button.

Multiplayer is an endless delight. The co-op story mode is nearly as long as the four to seven hour single player campaign, and competitive modes like Hunter allow you to compete for kills with a friend. Both cooperative and competitive online play are about killing lots of enemies, and both require teamwork. In Hunter mode, for example, you still have to revive your teammate and might have to coordinate attacks even though you're competing for kills.

The launch trailer for Splinter Cell: Conviction is a sublime definition of the game's theme. After a 35-year hiatus from #1, Johnny Cash released an album that topped the US Country charts. In just two weeks SC:C has nearly sold as many units as previous Splinter Cell totals. SC:C is a gritty, gutsy, brutal reinvention that challenges the Splinter Cell series with conviction.

GameXYZ is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Content Descriptors. This game can also be found on: GBA, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360 and Mobile Phone.

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  • Salvy

    This game is Great. I can’t wait to play it.

  • Blake

    Splinter Cell Conviction is a fun game, but the single-player campaign was way too short. Unfortunately, it seems like this is a trend in the current generation of console games. Not everyone is in love with the online multiplayer concept, especially if this feature causes the developers to skimp on the single-player portion.

  • Mike Tarajano

    Finally, been a long time since the last one. I think this series is a bit better than Metal Gear actually. That’s my opinion.