When describing videogames, I hate it when people use the word "cinematic" as if it was a complement. The word "cinematic" implies that a videogame is trying to imitate another media form instead of immersing players in the medium of videogames. Splinter Cell: Conviction
, for instance, has been able to create an incredibly immersive experience by never breaking the flow of the game. Even the loading screen is cleverly disguised as a interrogation scene or a quick cutscene detailing the land. Ubisoft Montreal has been able to create a fantastic game that drives home action, danger, emotion, and suspense with all of it happening from your interaction with the world. In short, "cinematic" just doesn't cover it.
Sam Fisher is pissed. And it's not because it's taken four years for a proper sequel to come out. After being forced to murder his best friend and betrayed by the U.S. government, he's on a revenge kick to discover who killed his daughter. Along the way he discovers twists and turns that bring in people from his past as he delves into a complex tale of betrayals and conspiracys that lead to the highest powers in America. This game is dripping with awesome presentation. Instead of clumsy cutscenes like some certain melodramatic stealth games (*cough*MetalGearSolid*cough*), all the information is relayed in-game through the usage of interactive interrogations, and projections of mission objectives and plot points on the wall, thereby eliminating any breaks in gameplay.
And speaking of gameplay: I was worried that when the developers were going with an action oriented stealth game that they would leave behind the tension of the series. However, my fears were alleviated almost as soon as I started the game. You're not a space marine or mute scientist with advanced armor, you're just a man - a couple of direct hits from enemy fire and you better hope your life insurance is intact. This is the best cover system I've ever used. By pressing the left trigger, you cling to a wall, and from there you can make smooth transitions to another piece of cover. There are two big features of the game; first, there's the mark and execute system where you mark enemies, or certain objects, for death and you'll be able to kill them all in rapid succession. This is not an 'instant win button' either. You have gain this ability by beating down an enemy up close, and let me tell you, enemies have the chance to outmaneuver you when you're that close up. The second big addition is that of the last known position - a feature in which the last place that enemies remember seeing you lights up with a ghostly silhouette of you, giving you the opportunity to sneak around while the bad guys fire at where you used to be. Along with the usual assortment of generic evil-doers from Thugs-r-Us, you'll also take on other Splinter Cell agents meaning that they have the same equipment you do.
When you hear such small details as past presidential speeches being quietly spoken (almost inaudibly) as you traverse down the corridors of a bomb out White House, you know you've got something special. From the sound of blazing gunfire to the crack of skulls being slammed against walls, Ubisoft has gone all out in terms of sound. Civilians and enemies alike will have a plethora of dialogue options for you to overhear as does Fisher for every combat occasion. Speaking of dialogue, the voice acting in the game is absolutely fantastic. Special thanks goes out to Michael Ironside giving Sam Fisher his distinct flinty baritone voice that could make even grown men fear for their lives and Claudia Besso as Anna Grimdottir who gives off a cold and calculating demeanor that contrasts greatly with Fisher's emotional roller-coaster. The story is not tacked on, either. An absolute enthralling thriller, Conviction
weaves in a fantastic tale of espionage with the pathos building insight of Fisher.
Like the audio, the visuals have been given so much love. When you're in shadows, the screen will go to a washed-out black-and-white look with only enemies and certain objects maintaining their color. Unlike most current-gen games, the color palette is rich with contrasting reds, blues, yellows, and browns to give the scenery more life. The animations alone should garner awards: Fisher will actually walk up and down steps individually instead of seemingly floating like other 3rd person games and the interrogation animations bring a whole new understanding of brutality. All of this amazingness packed into one game, and I haven't even touched on the outstanding multiplayer and co-op aspects which kick 10 different types of ass. Although there's single-player level that does seem to be a small bit out of place with the rest of the game, chances are you won't notice it that much as it gives you a little bit more action focused gameplay.
If you have an Xbox 360, get this game. If you don't have a 360, get one, then get this game. If you don't own a television...yadda blah blarg honk...get this game. I cannot recommend this enough. Best game in the Splinter Cell series
and a definite contender for my game of the year. Welcome back, Mr. Fisher, I believe Solid Snake and Batman were trying to take your chair.
My Review: BUY IT! BUY IT NAHW!
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow.
P.S. Is 'videogames' one word or two?