LTTP or ‘late to the party’ pieces are opportunities for me to catch up and write about games I missed out on the first time around. They may contain spoilers.
What happened to the stealth genre? Have people become too impatient? Is this why we get games like Splinter Cell: Conviction? Ones where the stealth option is no longer the recommended path and more of an “nice-to-have” option? I credit Ubisoft for making me feel like Jason Bourne, but I wasn’t looking for that when I picked up this title. I was looking for the stealthy modern ninja that was the Sam Fisher of old.
They say “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” and, for the for the most part, that statement was very true in this game. In fact, it seemed like Sam forgot some of his old stealth tricks. He no longer tossed bottles or cans to create distractions. And worse, he neglected to hide bodies during his missions. The old man seemed to be content with resorting to gun play or instant kills via his “Mark & Execute” technique.
After taking out an enemy with his bare hands, Sam somehow gained the ability to take out up to four guards at the same time. The number of enemies was dependent on the chosen weapon, the result was always deadly. It was such an easy and effective tool to abuse regardless of the game’s difficulty. I played the game on “Realistic” difficult and it didn’t diminish the ability whatsoever.
I still preferred taking out a guard with a carefully placed headshot or neck snap. But with “Mark & Execute”, I found myself placing Sam in precarious situations just so I can see him be a bad ass. I’d mark four guards, grab the fifth one as a human shield and then execute the four of them without a fuss. Then I’d snap his neck to restore the “Mark & Execute” ability for the next batch of guards.
Non lethal measures weren’t Sam’s cup of tea anymore. He was able to interrogate people with threats before, but now his interrogation tactics involve smashing a man’s face into an HDTV or through a washroom urinal. It was entertaining for the first couple of meetings. Then it felt like I was going through the motions.
Conversely, the story didn’t grab me until late and when it did, it wrapped up far too quickly. Believe it or not, I actually didn’t see Grim’s twist coming. Bravo to Ubisoft for teasing it and keeping it shrouded in mystery until the end.
Finally, I’d like to also commend the game’s presentation. Despite the lowly native resolution of 1024 x 576, Splinter Cell: Conviction still managed to impressive. It was a combination of the quality animation of Sam Fisher and the art direction. These environments were done up pretty nicely, if you ask me. Forget the fact that I spent a significant portion of the game in low light conditions and/or in black & white stealth mode — this game simply looks good.
As for the whole plastering the side of a wall with mission objective text gimmick? I thought it was unique, but unnecessary. It’s cinematic to see it on the side of a warehouse, but awkward and unwieldy when I was in an air duct. Had to readjust Sam and pull up the objective several times in order to read it. They should have had Sam pull up a PDA or something after the initial reveal.
Splinter Cell: Conviction’s approach to the stealth action genre was the exact opposite of Metal Gear Solid 4’s. Ubisoft made an action game with a stealth option while Konami’s was an stealth game with an action option. I was hoping for the former. I was hoping for more of what the franchise was known for. Instead, I found myself fitting out my M4’s and MP5’s with silencers and scopes to quickly dispose of enemies behind the safety of cover. That wasn’t what I was expecting at all and I’m sure others who’ve played this felt the same.
Consider this your official warning before wading in.
Worth a Try
For more information on Splinter Cell: Conviction, check the official website.