Vitals – System: Xbox 360, PC // Release Date: April 13,2010 // ESRB: Mature // Genre: Stealth Action // Developer: Ubisoft Montreal // Publisher: Ubisoft

My whole life I grew up thinking that ninjas were one of the coolest things to be in the world and when asked the eternal question 'What's more bad ass then a ninja?"' my response was always "It's obviously nothing", but not anymore. Now when asked that question my response can only be one thing, one name that instills fear and outranks any other response, and that name is? Sam Fisher. That's right, created by Tom Clancy and brilliantly brought to life by the fine people at the Ubisoft studio located in Montreal. Ubisoft has delivered what can be called nothing short of a force of nature to the Xbox 360 and the the world of PC gaming and at the same time have completely redefined the bad ass image.

The latest chapter of the Splinter Cell series has left Sam Fisher a broken man and now pits him against Third Echelon, the very company Sam worked for for so very long, When Sam is greeted by an old friend (Grim) and learns that his daughters death might be more then just an accident he is willing to do whatever it takes to find out the truth and thus begins the bittersweet journey of vengeance and untold truth.

As you begin the game you're introduced to what might be the most innovating and well defined feature that so many games have striven to and failed to properly master, the cover system. This feature is one of two key components that make this game so good. The cover system is simple yet allows to the player to do so many things, such as move from cover to cover while while remaining invisible. The cover system also allows players to create a shadow image (called Last Known Position) when their position has been found allowing them to flank the AI and gain a strategic advantage.

The second component that makes this game so appealing is the mark and execute ability. Once earned this allows players to mark multiple opponents and quickly dispatch them without any mess. Players earn this ability by performing a single but very stylish hand to hand kill from ledges, over hangs or ground level.

Putting these two dignifying qualities aside this game also has an outstanding environment and uses it in ways one wouldn't expect. The player never actually leaves the game as important story line video's or objectives are displayed on the environment itself such as the side of high rise skyscrapers, the walls on a hallway or other objects. It's an innovative way to really draw the player into the game and never interrupt the game play itself. The environments themselves are rich and detailed with a very real feel to them and are portrayed wonderfully in every aspect setting the mood to fit any scenario.

As with any mood music and sound effects play a huge roll and can really bring the game together. The music is well orchestrated and planned to create just the right level of suspense or adrenaline pumping action the player needs to relate with Sam himself. The sound effects are just as mint as any other part of the game, the gunfire is well done and each weapon sounds great as does each gadget.

The gameplay is outstanding and flows beautifully throughout the whole game, Sam moves fluently whether he's going from a dead run to jumping onto a pipe and scaling his way up or diving behind an object to take cover from enemy surveillance it all happens without a hitch. This is by far one of the more dignifying qualities of Conviction as other games have at times felt a little awkward in this department. The gun play also handles well and feels very real and while I've always been a fan of running in guns blazing I must admit I did enjoy sneaking around using my hand gun 89% of the time. Another entertaining tidbit Conviction bring to the table is the interrogation feature, when Sam is interrogating key characters in the game there are certain, lets call them sweet spots, in the area players can use to creatively intimidate them. Some of these include using a characters skull to break a sink or hanging them from a 3 story window.

This was, I'm a little ashamed to admit, my first Splinter Cell game so the history is very unfamiliar to me but the story I did experience was told brilliantly. It's presented in the past tense narrative as Victor Coste (one of Sam Fishers oldest friends) recaps previous events and the player reenacts and experiences them for themselves. The story line is nothing short of epic and is full of twists and turns along with so much depth I'm not even sure to begin. The coop mulitplayer is a prologue to the single player experience so grab a friend and make sure to check that out as well, you won't be disappointed I can assure you.

The rest of the mutliplayer is broken down into several other gameplay types; Hunter, Face Off, Last Stand, and Infiltration mode which can be unlocked through Ubisoft's U-Play network. Multiplayer can be played on split screen, system link or online and if a friend isn't available don't fret, there's also another mode called Deniable Ops which allows the player to play each game type by themselves against the A.I.

Something I want to touch upon real quick was the the voice acting. Each voice actor was well cast and really brought each character to life, although Michaeal Ironside (the voice of Sam Fisher) can sound like he's drunk at times. This detail is so minor that it ultimately takes nothing away especially because his voice is perfect for a character like Sam Fisher, if anything it raises the question, 'Did anyone else notice that while they were recording or am I just going insane from the sheer awesome that this game expels!'

In short whether you're pouncing on guys from an over hanging pipe, beating people down from the shadows or dropping destructible environments on your enemies to create a diversion this game is one you'll regret not having on your shelf. So what are you waiting for? Finish reading my review and go play the game already, this is something for the ages. Thank you Ubisoft, you have certainly set the bar this time!

Likes:

– Flawless cover system

– The Mark and Execute design is a blast

– Use of the environment is great

– Has an awesome coop and multiplayer

– Finding out how Sam uses the interrogation sweet spots are always bad ass

Dislikes:

– Can have minor frame rate issues

– Is mainly a stealth game so the run in and shoot everything that moves routine won't end well

CBG Score: 9.5/10