You’re dead, Fisher!.. Splinter Cell Conviction on the iPhone is a down scaled, high action version of its console counterparts. The larger focus on action means that Conviction on the iPhone strays even further from the stealth genre, even to the point where it hardly feels like a Splinter Cell game and more like Killswitch or Gears of War. This transition to high action puts excess strain on the controls, and worsens the game’s other flaws. These hitches do not prevent Splinter Cell Conviction from providing an exciting time, and fans of shooters should consider Conviction when looking for an action fix on the iPhone.
Stealth has been the cornerstone of the Splinter Cell franchise since its inception. Sam Fisher, the main character in the series, is an ex-government special operations agent pursuing his own mission in the field. Sam’s tactics have changed in an attempt to bring Conviction to a wider, less simulation oriented audience, and the game has essentially turned into a cover based third person shooter. Long time fans of Splinter Cell will be disappointed in Conviction if they are looking for the next Chaos Theory. Stealth in Conviction is handled in binary fashion. Either Sam is in the shadows and hidden, or he is out of the shadows and visible.
Sam can sprint in circles around an enemy going entirely unnoticed, just as long as he is in the shadows. If you attempt to wait in hiding and shoot a moving enemy, the game’s heavy aim assist will kick in and mess up your shot. This lack of stealth can be frustrating for those that expect it, but once you accept the kind of game you are playing the nagging wears away. Sam’s tools are almost useless, with the sonar goggles relegated to puzzles and the sticky cameras unable to make noise. This is a game where you sit in boat turrets and mow down waves of enemies, not a traditional Splinter Cell by any stretch.
Of course, making an action game requires (or should) that the controls work well. Unfortunately the controls in Conviction feel as if they would be more at home in a slower paced stealth game. Keeping in mind the limitations of the platform, Conviction holds up admirably, but I do wish that it was easier to handle the high volume of enemies that frequently charge the player down narrow hallways. Those situations expose the flaws in the enemy AI. Enemies will watch their friends die and not react, they will stand completely still as you shoot a room full of their friends, or they will start to walk away slowly from you as you approach. Especially frustrating are the enemies that somehow simultaneously yell two things at you, making the player think that more enemies are in the room than are actually there.
Things I enjoyed:
The game isn’t all disappointments and frustration, and I should emphasize that the controls are serviceable enough to enjoy the game. The first thing that will hit players is the graphical fidelity. Levels are crisp and interesting, and the whole game takes place across a host of vibrant settings. Some levels own up to what the designers are shooting for and remove the stealth mechanic entirely, and I found that these levels felt more fully realized. When the action picks up, running about with all of the explosions and bullets can be exciting. The standout level for this kind of action was the one that finds you running from a helicopter on a roof, and it was only until you had to shoot the helicopter with over ten RPGs that the level loses its magic.
Splinter Cell Conviction is a mostly enjoyable romp across the world that distances itself from the stealth oriented gameplay of its predecessors. The graphics are outstanding, and the pacing feels just right. Annoying minigames, a dry story, poor enemy intelligence and potentially lethal controls hold the game back. Especially obnoxious are the enemy battle cries, or really any voice acting that is included in the game. I was driven to madness by a helicopter on the second to last level, but for the most part the game is not all so difficult. Gamers that want a decent 6 hour adventure should consider Conviction.
Splinter Cell is out now for $9.99/£5.99.
This game was reviewed on a 2nd gen device.
Some framerate issues were encountered, but the game ran smoothly for the most part.