|System: X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Montreal||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 13, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Andrew Groen
January 19, 2010 - Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction has seen its fair share of turbulence during its development cycle. In fact, the current game we got hands-on time with at this year's Consumer Electronics Show doesn't look very much at all like the game that was first announced several years ago. On the heels of a lukewarm fan reception to Double Agent, Ubisoft was once poised to take Splinter Cell in a radical new direction.
However, despite its changes in direction, Conviction feels great and has some exciting new modes that have us eagerly awaiting the game's release. In some ways, this installment seems to be a return to roots for Splinter Cell, at least in terms of the gameplay's core values. Outside of that, they've added some awesome new features that we can't wait to get our hands on again.
Our sneak peek at one of the new modes included in Conviction, Deniable Ops, showed us yet another aspect of this game that strays from the old Splinter Cell archetype. This mode essentially plays like a "challenge room" of sorts, although this phrase carries a negative connotation of simplicity that is perhaps unfair to Conviction. Rather, these levels boil down the Splinter Cell formula to the core values, and what is left is a mode that condenses all that is fun about Splinter Cell into action-heavy sequences.
Deniable Ops is divided into four different gameplay styles: Hunter, Infiltration, Last Stand, and Face Off. The latter of which is a multiplayer mode between two spies in a level filled with enemies trying to kill them both. This emerges as a tricky new gameplay mechanic, as crafty players will be able to use the enemy soldiers to their own advantage, drawing their attention towards the enemy, etc. Last Stand, on the other hand, sees the agent defending a specific point on the map as enemies swarm to get there to activate something (an EMP bomb, for example.) Infiltration is pure stealth. You've got to get through a series of rooms without ever being seen. This emphasis on absolute silence helps balance out some of the other more action-oriented modes.
Hunter is the gameplay mode that we were able to try, and it plays out very similarly to Infiltration. You're placed into a level and it's your job to hunt down every poor soul in the room before advancing to the next one. This takes what is arguably Splinter Cell's defining feature - controlling an awesome super-assassin - to the forefront. Stealth is not just an option in this mode but an absolute necessity. If you're spotted even once, a huge wave of reinforcements will come searching for you. You can still win, but it makes your odds of survival that much more unlikely.
Alone and outnumbered, the player is at a huge disadvantage here, but Ubisoft has included an all-new tool to level the odds. The sonar goggles are a new addition to the traditional Sam Fisher tools. When equipped, they send out a wave that pulses through the walls and all of the surroundings. For a few seconds, they'll show the location of every enemy in the level before the vision becomes blurred. However, those few seconds will be all you need to locate and begin your attack on a set of targets.
On the single-player side, Conviction begins with Sam Fisher investigating the death of his daughter, trying to figure out who it was that killed Sarah. Then, early in the game, Sam gets wrapped up in a big conspiracy that brings him back to the United States capitol. Details are obviously pretty scarce surrounding the storyline for Conviction, but we do know that this version of Sam Fisher has been drastically changed from his previous self.