I was finally lucky enough to pick up this title from Steam when it went on sale and try it out. While I’ve already tried Double Agent (meh) and Chaos Theory (wow) I thought I might pass on this one since although it got relatively good reviews, it was still panned by many fans of the series (particularly people who simply wanted a better looking Chaos Theory.)
Lets get the big one out of the way. This game does not feel much like a Splinter Cell game.
I’m fairly certain most people who have played Conviction as well as a previous Splinter Cell title will agree with me. There are far too many missions and chapters in this game that involve a more rambo-like experience rather than a stealthy covert one as with Splinter Cell tradition. The co-op missions can feel like you’re playing Army of Two at times. While the missions that require you to not kill any enemies are definitely fun and challenging they often only encourage stealth until you ruin your cover (which is extremely easy to do.) After that the game expects you to shoot your way out and abandon any stealth techniques. The final co-op mission is a complete shoot out firefight. I can ignore this though since it is still a very solid title despite not exactly staying true to the Splinter Cell formula. You will still enjoy playing this game and that is what’s important in the end.
The co-op missions seem vastly superior to the singleplayer campaign despite having a non-important storyline by comparison. It consists of ‘Go do missions. Don’t screw up.’ which is all that is needed for this kind of thing. The co-op is far more engaging because you can be a bit more ballsy with your tactics since you can rely on your teammate to get you back on your feet if something goes sour. The co-op characters Archer and Kestrel also have a surprising amount of character to them which definitely adds to the experience. The U-points you earn from achievements are an okay feature and a much better way of implementing DLC into a game but I would still appreciate it more if the game didn’t hinder me from participating in an entire game mode just because I have not earned enough points to unlock it.
The graphics are solid and nice to look at (even if that’s not what this series is about) with the usage of the UE3 engine which always looks great for titles like this. There is no night vision in this title as they’ve opted for a more permanent style of inferred night vision which I’m not sure if I’m happy about. The screen turns mostly black and white when you are in darkness and it’s implied that while you can still see everything clearly, the enemy cannot see you. This ruins the realism of previous titles a bit though since the green lens of night vision was far more immersive and realistic than this and it offered another tactical option for missions which could become a problem for you if you ended up flooded in light and blinded by your night vision. It’s only natural that if you are in the shadows and the enemy cannot see you, you would not be able to see your character either. Instead they give you a sonar that allows you to see enemies and lasers but distorts with movement. This combined with the new marking system make the game feel a bit too easy and the only challenge remaining is during missions where you aren’t allowed be detected by enemies. Beside this, the animations are fluid and the whole game is very seamless for what it is. The new marking system is a bit overpowered at times but it requires melee kills to recharge so it won’t hinder the game from stomping all over you and ruining the difficulty.
The soundtrack is done by Amon Tobin as with previous Splinter Cell titles and he has done a phenomenal job on it as always. Albeit it’s not quite up to par with the soundtrack for Chaos Theory (which was amazing) but it certainly is not generic shooter music. The soundtracks of the Splinter Cell games are what add that particular amount of class to them that make them stand out from other shooters even if they don’t follow the same formula as other shooters in the first place.
If you are looking for a good singleplayer Splinter Cell game I would skip this one but if you are looking for some good multiplayer or co-op fun this is definitely worth picking up.