I finally played Splinter Cell Conviction. I’ve played all the previous Splinter Cells (it’s actually the only Tom Clancy games I’ve played), but I never got around to this one. But a new one is coming out in not too long plus they’re turning it into a movie starring Tom Hardy. And while Bane seems like a good choice, I’ll miss the voice of Michael Ironsides.
Anyway, this one hugely changed up the formula of the previous games. Previously, Sam Fisher was this big clunky guy who could never last long in a fire fight so you had to sneak around all the levels carefully; often, you’d avoid combat entirely for a whole level — it was one of the definitive stealth games. But in this one he’s gone rogue and is more of a Jack Bauer type badass who can easily take out everyone in the room. In fact, that’s what stealth is in this game: Killing everyone so quickly they can’t sound an alarm. Also, stealth is mainly used in the middle of a firefight so the enemy loses you and you can flank him.
Anyway, it’s pretty awesome and I like the change from the slower paced games before it. When you see a room full of enemies, instead of saying, “How can I get by without them seeing me?” you say, “How can I kill all of them before one gets off a shot?” And you have this nice Mark and Execute skill to help. Let’s say there are five guys in a room. You mark four of them, sneak up and hand to hand kill the fifth, and then hit one button and automatically pull out your gun and headshot the other four. It’s a pretty powerful feeling taking out a whole room like that. Hitman: Absolution actually borrowed the Mark and Execute, but in that game you’d only ever use it if things went FUBAR. But here, it’s the main method of getting things done and it’s a lot of fun.
Still, according to Steam, I put ten hours in the game and I’m pretty much done with it. The main story was only so-so (it was a pretty cliched plot of a government agency committing terrorism to convince people they need government agencies) and the only part that was interesting was about Sam and his daughter (I have a daughter! In fact, the sequence that was a flashback of him interacting with his five-year-old daughter who is supposed to be dead in the present day hit a little too close to home). There are co-op options and guns to upgrade and single player challenges and a higher difficulty, but I think I got enough of that gameplay already.
There was one neat story telling element that I liked that’s unique to a video game. There was a level that was a flashback to the first gulf war, and it’s all fighting with an AK-47 and no stealth which seemed weird. But then you find out you’re not playing as Sam Fisher but instead his buddy who is rescuing him which makes you automatically have a lot of affinity for a character who probably otherwise wouldn’t have been very memorable. I thought that was clever.