Splinter Cell Conviction in Review – There’s no stopping Uncle Sam!

Stealth-Action games are a relatively new genre in the gaming market. Having been originated by the legendary Thief series of games, they were only made truly popular by the Splinter Cell franchise under the umbrella of the king of modern warfare literature – Tom Clancy. And Gameloft, no stranger to bringing over highly successful game franchises from other platforms to the iDevice, has released a special version of the latest instance in the series – Splinter Cell Conviction™.

Splinter Cell Conviction is probably the only member of the 3rd-person Stealth Action Shooter on the iDevice. When Sam Fisher, a recently retired special agent, gets a cryptic message from his ex-colleague about the possible murder of his own daughter, he has no choice but to go on a hunt and avenge her death. In an unlikely twist this leads him to discovering a conspiracy involving an elite military group and their plot to use state-of-the-art weaponry to assassinate the president of the United States. But we can’t let this happen, can we?

Being a Stealth Shooter, you can of course go in guns blazing, but there is so much more fun in doing it ninja-style. The game is split into levels with a distinct look and feel to them. You control Sam and follow the story and objectives, painted on the walls in huge letters (literally). And most of these objectives either involve getting to the end of the level or finding someone and kicking the crap out of him for info. To do so you will run, climb walls and drainpipes, cross over ledges and hang outside windows. But let’s examine the most fun part – the combat.

Eliminating your enemies is more of an art than a science in Splinter Cell conviction. To start off, you have the basic shooting – use your main weapon or sidearm to eliminate your target (headshots included!). For the marksman in you, an option is to switch to aiming mode, which is especially useful on scoped weapons. But for the true stealth agent the many ways of disposing enemies quickly and quietly are much more interesting. These include the basic hand-to-hand chocking of foes, throwing them out of windows, dropping down on them from above and one of the most tasty modes – Mark & Execute. This last option allows players to mark and prioritize specific targets for a series of quick and deadly shots.

Of course, Sam wouldn’t be Sam if he didn’t have any special tricks up his sleeve. In Splinter Cell Conviction this includes a special hand-mirror, which allows you to survey rooms through keyholes to assess the situation and use the mark & execute option. In some levels Sam also has access to thermal vision goggles that allow him to see through walls for a short period of time, and an EMP backpack, which kills all enemy electronics for a short while. And as a last resort there are also several types of grenades, ideal for mass destruction.

Visually Splinter Cell Conviction is gorgeous. With full support for the Retina display the surroundings are crisp and clear and the environment is rich with both colours and objects. And the water rendering on the final levels simply blew me away. The controls work well on the iPhone, with context sensitive action buttons that make controlling Sam a breeze. Saving is done automatically once you reach certain checkpoints, though isn’t really announced. This falls in nicely with the whole bite-sized portable gaming, though you’re still running a risk that getting killed right before a checkpoint may require you to replay 5-10 minutes of the game.

Even setting aside its unique genre, Splinter Cell Conviction is one of the best Third-Person Action games on the iOS platform. Throw in all of extra stealth-ninja action stuff and we’ve got ourselves a title that can definitely make Sam Fisher proud. Some sacrifices had to be made, of course, and the stealth elements are not that strict in many locations (the AI doesn’t really punish you for going on a rampage). Regardless, any cloak-and-dagger fan will find more than enough to satisfy themselves with Splinter Cell Conviction.

With this I declare Splinter Cell Conviction officially touched!

This review of Splinter Cell Conviction is based on the iPhone version of the game. Splinter Cell Conviction™ HD for the iPad is also available on the App Store.

App Summary
Title: Splinter Cell Conviction™Developer: Gameloft
Reviewed Ver:1.0.2Min OS Req:3.0
Price:$4.99App Size:510.19MB
  • Superb Retina-quality graphics
  • Reasonably deep stealth action
  • Full-on frontal assault levels present also
  • Intuitive interface
  • Some save point positions could be better
  • Not enough penalty for failing the stealth-action part
  • All of the special tricks (thermal-vision, emp-backpack) not really required or useful

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