Splinter Cell: Conviction Review

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The first great action game of the year


Despite the stealthy series losing its way in recent years and falling out of favour, Conviction is a dramatic return to form for Splinter Cell, and one of 2010’s first great action games.

Now a grizzled renegade hunted by the secret service he once served, Sam Fisher is much more thrilling character to control; without the support of his comrades, and robbed of many of the gadgets that allowed him to remain invisible to his enemies, Sam sees more gunplay and fist fights than ever before, injecting energy into a gaming series that never stopped being engaging, but had become frustratingly slow and boring. Naturally, using Sam’s skills to stay out of sight and stick to the shadows is still the most satisfying way to play the game – and yields the best cinematics, where you can pull an enemy off the side of the bridge you’re hanging from and see them disappearing into a dumpster 20ft below – but when you’re spotted this time the experience doesn’t automatically come to an undignified end where you’re cut to shreds in a hail of bullets.

Conviction’s action-packed approach also allows players more choice in how they tackle problems, and adds great replay value where you can try your hand at levels you’ve already played but see them unfold in a completely different and equally exciting way. And with refined stealth devices such as the ability to target enemies from outside a room then pick them off quickly and silently as you burst through the window – and the ghostly apparition of yourself that hangs in the air to indicate where enemies last saw you, in turn giving a visual clue to how you can outflank them – the awkward sneaking of before is replaced by a more fluid, fast-paced and convincing undercover experience.

The game’s slick, movie-style presentation – where loading times are discreetly disguised, there are no ugly menus to clutter the screen, and objectives are projected onto the environment, echoing a sharp visual style pioneered by Natural Born Killers, Panic Room and TV series Fringe – is also remarkable, subtly weaving you into the experience and keeping players on tenterhooks until the end credits roll.

A stunning reboot for a hallowed series, Conviction is the best Splinter Cell to date and offers a captivatingly mature, stylish and taut experience that’ll bewitch game nuts and movie fans alike.