Hey guys, Jess here!

So I’m back hangin’ in the basement and thought I’d drop a review. I’m a fan of Sam Fisher, have been since the first Splinter Cell.  When I heard they were going for Conviction I almost crapped my pants. All this excitement turned to worry however,  after I heard about the several heavy delays and rumors that they were re-working the game play and changing the play style. My fear was that we may never see Sam again, and if we did, it wouldn’t be the Sam I’ve grown to love — well love like a father….anything else would be umm — gross.

The first time I played Conviction I played the co-op story with a co-worker from work. It took about 5 hours to complete the entire co-op story and I wasn’t pleased.  There were some big O moments as I played with the new targeting system, which allows you to mark your enemies then hit an execute button thus making Sam take everyone out with one shot kills.  If you and your partner every pulled this off together you’d get a taste of pure satisfaction. The problem I had with co-op was the lackluster feeling I had after finishing it — it wasn’t a stealth game anymore.  It was a run and gun shooter with a cover system, a good one at that, with some shadow play thrown in the mix.  I wasn’t very satisfied and my fears, yet again, started to build.  “Enough!” I said, I told my co-worker to go back to work as I decided to tackle the heart of the this beast — the campaign mode.

Right from the start I felt at home again…I knew this was the Sam Fisher I lived for!  No run and gun, but more stealthy, precise movements.  You used the cover system, which was a breath of fresh air,  to stay hidden in the shadows until you were ready to strike.  You sneak up on someone and perform a stealth kill, which had some awesome cinematic moments, i.e. like throwing someone out a window or kicking their kneecap in from behind then facing them to put a bullet in ‘em.  The more stealth kills you make, unlocks upgrades for the “Mark and Execute” move, which I talked about before. All of these moments made the sadistic little girl in me smile… You really felt like a super agent and that this warpath for revenge/justice was just going to get bloodier.

The directional hints and short videos playing on the walls of building was an interesting and welcoming addition that kept the action moving instead of waiting for a movie to end to keep playing.  The cover system was another welcomed changed to previous installments.  It’s very much like Gears but looser in the sense that you press the trigger to go into cover and release it to come out of cover.  This added to the fast paced “hunting” style rather than sitting and waiting for your unsuspecting prey to turn their back.  Even if you got caught in a fire fight you could quickly hop to cover then make your way into the shadows where you enemies would lose you, bringing me to another new addition, “Last Known Position”.  This was great in a fire fight because you would duck away and everyone would be shooting and stalking a silhouetted form of Sam while you could slide, crawl or stalk behind them and still have the element of surprise.  This was particularly fun when there were only a few enemies and I would purposely be seen so I could sneak around and take them out one by one, like a ghost in the darkness.

The story probably took me about 10 hours to complete and was overall a satisfying one.  There were moments that I could have lived without – the flashback war sequence was very ehh, but other than that the story moved pretty straight forward, with no real shocking twist.  Lastly, the interrogating sequences where a lot of fun.  You never really cared about what they were saying but rather what in the room could be used to bash them against/with.  For example, the bathroom sequence and the toilets was brutal or practically any room with a large desk to smash their heads against. Again — loved every second of it :-)

Once I completed the game it was time to explore the Deniable Ops modes.  These were a lot of fun to play with a friend because you really felt like you were working together as one bad ass unit.  There were four modes; Hunter – kill all the enemies, Infiltration – sneak in without detection, Last Stand – waves of enemies until death, and Face-off – players hunt each other (a taste of this at the end of the co-op story…pretty cool since neither of us knew what to expect and of course I kicked her ass).  My favorite by far was Hunter.  You use the same cover system, “Mark and Execute” and “Last Known Position” to complete stages filled with enemies.  You can go guns blazing, get caught, causing a large wave of enemies arrive and it becomes a fire fight or take the few enemies out quietly.   There was one instance that was the stand out moment of the game for me; my co-worker and I were sneaking around a warehouse with a dozen men, marking as many as we could – which was four each.  We got into the center of the room, still in shadow, and both of us had all four of our men dead to rights.  My co-worker hit the execute button which slows down time to allow your partner to do the same for a dual execute.  A beautiful orchestrated slaughter of the unsuspecting men followed in slowed time and accumulated with both of us shooting the last man to a silent warehouse of enemies unaware of the massacre.  It was badass.  Perfect!  Then my co-worker ran up the stairs without looking, right into the sights of an enemy, and we spent the next 20 minutes fighting for our lives.
So — Sam is back — and I still love him, I really recommend playing this game.  With all the games coming out in the next couple of months I’m not sure I would buy the game purely for budgetary reasons, but if you got the cash then I would say yes!  The main story is short but satisfying but the Deniable Ops are by far the best part of this game.  Splinter Cell: Conviction delivers a dynamic experience, packed with high octane moments and smirk inducing guilty pleasure moments, with an emphasis more on action then stealth that brings to mind the Bourne series or the newer Bond movies.