Saturday, 17 April 2010

Splinter Cell Conviction

Sam's back. But this time, it's personal. Again. With this latest Splinter Cell chapter, Sam is brought back into the game and once again, some deep, dark secrets are revealed...

I always enjoyed playing Splinter Cell, but after Pandora Tomorrow, I lost interest. No matter how much they hyped it up, I felt like it was sometimes just too bloody slow. If you stepped out for a second from the shadows, it was almost game over and those bloody goggles meant you hardly saw any light at all. It just became the same old thing again and again. You sneak from A to B and that's it. People say it's a lesser Metal Gear Solid, but they are completely different games and the fact is, Splinter Cell won't be able to keep up to the ingenuity of the MGS series. So no matter how much I heard that this game was more action based, I couldn't help but think they are still playing catch up.

Bad news first. The story somewhat relies on the fact you know what's happened in the previous games, which to be honest I don't. But then I don't care either. Some stuff about his daughter and his old boss and whatever but throughout the whole game, I didn't have a clue what was really going on. All I knew, as usual, was I had to sneak from A to B. This is a shame because it could have some real story chops if it just stopped trying so hard but, like everything by Clancy, double crosses, politics, evil warmongers and all that (yawwwwn) are heavy, seriously guys Clancy isn't that good. If anyone has read one of his books you'll know how shit he is, and if you like Clancy you might want to ask yourself, did you like The Da Vinci Code? Well, there you go then.

Other bad stuff is the useless weapons upgrading cache thing, I'm guessing it's for people who like to re-play these games, but all I needed was my silencer and a machine gun in case things got heavy. I honestly couldn't give a shit about the other stuff. Also, things like the Sticky Camera might have been cool in other Splinter Cell's, but it's just adding more choice to your armoury. I always think it's good to have choices, but I like to think they should make what you have worth having. Also, by the time you get your new sonar goggles, you start to rely on them too much and soon you find yourself flipping them on and off because it's easier to aim without them and sometimes you're thinking you're shooting them, when instead your just hitting a wall because you can't bloody see it's there with this x-ray shit. I think the game was better for the most part when you didn't have them.

I also found the voice acting a bit crap. Ironside (you'll recognise his face if not his voice) is a pretty good Sam Fisher, but his tone always seems like he just doesn't care, which makes him kinda cool but at the same time no matter what happens, Fisher's almost entirely indifferent. Also, it flashes through time which is annoying seeing as I don't really know what's going on in the first place and it's being narrated by some guy who is in some kind of jail (why?!). Unfortunately, the biggest downfall is it's too short. Way too short. It probably took me about 6 hours all in all, which is either because I'm great, or because they thought people might get bored, which is highly possible. The problem is that as much as the sneaking is great, then if you usually don't do it perfectly and get seen, chances are you can die pretty quickly. After a while you start realising that it's better and easier to go guns a blazing and take them out really quickly, which is probably why it didn't take too long because after dying once or twice, I got impatient. As well as this, when you are in hiding, the screen goes black and white which is kind of cool, but means that you spend a fair bit of the game playing a black and white game, which is pretty stupid. It could go slightly more greyer perhaps, but completely black and white? No thanks.

Now the bad stuff is out the way, it's time to look at the pro list and to be honest, there's a lot on it. Style wise it's great, memories and mission objectives look projected onto the environment and it is a really great idea. The directing in the cut scenes is great and looks very 24, shaky cam and random zooming in and out included. The graphics look incredible, as always and the different missions are somewhat varied and fun, whether it's all-out fighting in Iraq, interrogating suspects, listening in to conversations or running after a hitman, there's enough to break up the sneaking action to keep you interested. However, by the end of the game, stealth is almost out of the window and it's a shame seeing as that the most enjoyable aspects of the game are usually the silent takedowns.

The backdrops are also incredible, walking through a messed up Washington as people are crying trying to save their other halves is great and, like everything about the game, is a nice little touch. The gameplay has also been updated and works surprisingly well. If you take down an enemy using your bare hands, you get the ability to use an 'execute' command, whereby you 'tag' different enemies and when you're in a position to get a clear shot, you press the execute button and Sam takes out the lot of them in one go - which looks cool. The crouch and move buttons work remarkably well and the sneaking is great fun, running around finding different ways to get around keeps you entertained and the shadow you leave which is your 'last known position' is a cool little idea. The noise, death-defying moves and all that are gone for a more 'real' (if you can ever describe a Splinter Cell as that) approach and it definitely makes you feel like you're The Man, which is never a bad thing. The tagging idea makes you use your brain perhaps more than in previous incarnations, and if someone was watching you do it, you'd look bloody cool clearing a room in about 2 seconds flat, but hey, no biggie.

The co-op and multiplayer modes work well and you can unlock certain achievements by doing certain actions, which is supposed to add to the replay value, but to be honest, apart from perhaps the co-op, I doubt I'll return to it, but there's enough for people who love the game to go back and perfect it.

Overall, this is a step forward for the Splinter Cell series but I can't help but think that it's lost it's initial appeal. The story is pointless and completely linear, the constant sneaking around verges on the annoying by the end but the action is excellent, it's definitely improved on previous criticisms and it's a whole lot of fun. It doesn't quite come up to Metal Gear Solid, but then let's be honest, it never will. If you enjoyed Splinter Cell before, you'll enjoy this and it's definitely the best one yet (that I've played anyway) but as soon as I put the controller down, I forgot about it. Worth your money, but don't expect the world. The people who might rave about it are probably in awe of the graphics and general fun, but there are better games out there and I think Splinter Cell still has some lessons to learn. If it was even a tiny bit longer, it would have got an 8 but instead ...

Rating: 7/10

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