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Tom Clancy’s Something Something

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction

Historically, I have not been the biggest fan of stealth games. Waiting, pattern memorization, precise timing, none of that ever was that entertaining. Sure, there were exceptions, Metal Gear Solid 2 comes to mind, but I never really got into the Splinter Cell games. I picked the first one up because it looked awesome, got bored and frustrated, and gave up on them. Later I played that one with the cool spies vs. mercenaries multiplayer mode, but staid away from the story mode. But recent games like Arkham Asylum and Assassin’s Creed 2 have me invested in the new direction the genre is going in, so I was quick to pick up the long-awaited Splinter Cell Conviction.

I don’t really know what’s been going on, but at the point Conviction picks up, Sam Fisher is basically the Jack Bauer of the Tom Clancy universe, retired after his daughter and best friend’s deaths. But some lady tracks him down and soon enough Fisher is back in the shit, trying to uncover the truth behind what happened in the previous game and save the United States while he’s at it. The story enables you to play through a number of neat landmarks, so while it’s not amazing I’m cool with it. Michael Ironside is back as Fisher, and he does fine, although he sounds a little drunk some times.

There’s also a multiplayer story made up of four missions. You and a partner play as two spies, rocking all the gear from the get-go that Fisher collects over the whole single player campaign. They unravel a conspiracy that leads into Fisher’s story. Co-op is the best part of the game, as finding your way through rooms full of evil dudes with a partner is a lot of fun. There are some more multiplayer modes too, and they’re fine, you know, whatever.

Conviction clearly learned a lot from Arkham Asylum, because this is another stealth game that is more about power and keeping your enemies afraid as you take them out. You can smoothly transfer from cover to cover with simple commands. Taking out an enemy with a melee attack is easy and usually pretty brutal. Once you’ve meleed an enemy, you unlock the ability to mark and execute your enemies. That means being able to take out 2-4 goons with the press of one button. It got to the point that I tried to avoid having to actually aim my gun.

Visually, the graphics in Conviction are fine, not astounding. But the game has a great sense of style that elevates its appearance. Instructions and flashbacks appear in-game, projected on buildings and cars, which is really neat. When you’re hidden, the game goes black and white, which has the effect of making you feel even more exposed when you’re in the open and in color. Animations are smooth and some of the violence is almost cringe-worthy.

I’m really happy to say this is a good game. Conviction was in development for so long, it seemed like it could never turn out this well. While I still prefer its generic predecessors, this game is certainly among the stealth game cream of the crop .

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