Splinter Cell Conviction and Critical Gamer at Reading

I didn’t get off to a good start. I left Reading train station by the wrong exit (please don’t ask me how, I have no idea) and as a result, what should have been a sixty second stroll to HMV turned into a 40 minute journey of discovery. Unfortunately, all I discovered was that I have no sense of direction.

I eventually went where all men fear to tread, and Asked For Directions. Having thus swallowed my pride, I nearly choked on it when I was cheerfully informed that HMV was several hundred metres directly behind me. Fortunately the chap I asked was headed in the same general direction as I should have been and so I was led, like a lost and frightened child, most of the way to Reading’s HMV Gamerbase. I did by some small miracle make it there before the event officially began however; and the full retail version of Splinter Cell Conviction was waiting there for me.

Conviction is a major departure for the series...

After taking some photos, and getting suspicious looks from other attendees (perhaps in my shirt and tie I looked like a representative of some shadowy organisation), I was able to sit down at one of the lovely big TVs and get to grips with the game. With just two hours, I decided to concentrate on the singleplayer and co – op rather than spend a relatively short time on each mode. So first: the singleplayer.The intro, and each of the cut scenes, make it clear that Ubisoft Montreal are going for ‘cinematic’ presentation. The direction of these scenes is reminiscent of a stylised modern spy thriller, and I’ll tell you something cooksuckers – there are shedloads of funky swear words. Nothing says ‘gritty’ like potty mouthed thugs, eh?

Two things struck me very quickly once gameplay kicked in. The graphics are fabulous; very nice indeed, with no slowdown, screen tearing, pop up, or even loading screens during the three and a bit levels I played. The other thing I noticed is that Sam Fisher now bears an uncanny resemblance to Nathan Drake. I preferred the dirty hobo look he was sporting in the original version, personally. It would be nice to have a male avatar in a third person game who doesn’t look like he does catalogue model work on the side, just once.

‘Cinematic’ is certainly a word meant to be associated with this game, but ‘immersive’ even more so. Apparently the lack of loading screens will run through the entire game, and mission objectives appear on walls as though from a projector. It’s a rather odd decision to be honest but, I must admit, looks rather cool. Early on enemies got in the way of one such message, and all I could see was ‘Shoot’. I shot the thugs so I could read the rest of the message, which read ‘Shoot The Thugs’.

When this fight broke out over the last slice of pizza, Wayne Rooney stepped in to break it up.

The game employs a cover system, which is now presumably compulsory for all third person games involving guns. Holding the left trigger keeps you in cover, and pressing A when aiming toward another piece of cover makes Sam dash for it. Nonetheless, this is recognisably Splinter Cell. Try to use the same tactics you’d use in Gears Of War, and you’ll soon be overrun with enemies and very dead. You’re most safe and effective whilst hiding in the shadows, which is why you’re encouraged to shoot out lights at every opportunity. There’s also a gadget brand new in the world of videogames; the light switch…

Taking down enemies with a silenced pistol one by one, by making good use of shadows and the ‘Mark and Execute’ and ‘Last Known Position’ features (see our demo impressions) is very satisfying – but usually time consuming, and often difficult. Not a bad thing by any means; but more than once, I dealt with a group of enemies by alerting them to my presence and then heroically running away to hide behind something, where I could slaughter them with a sub machinegun as they came to chase after me.

Perhaps because of my.. um… unorthodox tactics, I progressed further than I was actually allowed to (unbeknownst to me) in the story mode. It seems that Ubisoft weren’t expecting anybody to be able to get that far that quickly and, in case you were wondering, I was playing on Normal. You doubtless know what has been officially revealed of the story so far; but suffice to say that even in the first 60 – 80 minutes of play, the plot takes some pleasingly unexpected twists.

One ‘Please don’t write about that’, three slices of pizza, and one can of Dr Pepper later, I was playing co – op via system link with a guy and gal from Gamercast. The co – op story acts as a prequel to the singleplayer and, unsurprisingly, gameplay works in much the same way. You can co – ordinate attacks during Mark and Execute, some objectives require you to work together, and if one of you takes too much damage, the other can resuscitate them (many thanks to Gamercast for saving me in this way an embarrassing amount of times, though I did return the favour once). Trying to make myself useful, I shot out a light. A few seconds later, all the surrounding lights went out at once.

There’s a light switch here.” said the Gamercast lad.

This is how I usually turn off lights in my house.” I said, sheepishly. “I get through a lot of lightbulbs.”

The world's most exciting screenshot, exclusive to Critical Gamer.

When I wasn’t wreaking unnecessary havoc or giving away our position like a comedy sidekick, the co – op was great fun for us both. There are obvious flanking opportunities, and having somebody to watch your back means you survive situations you might not have if playing alone. Just hope you never end up playing with me.

I shan’t be writing the review myself because, as my long – suffering staff hear at least three times a week, (a) my PC struggles to run Solitaire, and (b) both of my Xbox 360s passed away from RROD about two years ago. I can honestly say that I was incredibly impressed, however; and I’m sorely tempted to hunt down a witch doctor to resurrect one of my 360s.

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.


  1. clarkjudo /

    In the demo, the main menu, EXTRAS was enabled. Any idea what options the player can find there?

    • Luke K /

      I’m afraid that so far as unlockables go , I have no idea. Everybody was playing on a fresh profile – I was even unlocking achievements as I went.

  2. KrazyFace /

    Don’t go to a witch doctor, the one I met told me to pour chicken blood into my Wii then rub my PS3 with it to get free DLC.

    It didn’t work.

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