(PC, Xbox 360) 2/5 We never really got into the Splinter Cell series. Pitched as stealth games, they were really much more like puzzlers – it was less about creeping your way around and picking off enemies and more about using very specific parts of the environment in ways that the designers demanded. Do your climb-and-grab here, break the fella’s neck there; it all felt so rote. A change was needed.
Unfortunately, the change we get in Conviction isn’t taking a leaf out of the freeform hunt-and-attack gameplay in Batman: Arkham Asylum, nor is it looking to the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink form of the Metal Gear games. Instead, it has moved to a faster, more combat-based model, even removing the ability to hide bodies, presumably because it encourages the player to keep pushing forward and engaging with the enemy rather than lollygagging and sneaking about.
All this would be great if the combat itself weren’t so easy. Any close-range enemy can be killed at the tap of a button, irrespective of whether they’ve already seen you; doing so earns you the ‘mark and execute’ mode, which allows you to shoot up to four enemies instantly with a single button-press. Even the basic combat is simple: the standard pistol has infinite ammo and fires as fast as you can tap, effectively making it a machine gun.
Couple this with a short – and only intermittently interesting – single-player campaign (bolstered by an even shorter co-op mini campaign) and a reduced multiplayer experience (the beloved Spies vs Mercenaries mode is gone, and other options are thin on the ground) and you’re left with a disappointing package. It’s a shame, because the graphics, mood and voice work are all top-notch. Available now in stores