Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction

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Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction.jpg
North American video game box art; the same image appears on international releases with the ESRB label replaced by its regional counterpart[1]
Developer(s) Ubisoft Montreal
Gameloft (iOS, Android & Windows Mobile)
Publisher(s) Ubisoft
Gameloft (iOS, Android & Windows Mobile)
Designer(s) Maxime Béland
Alex Parizeau
Composer(s) Kaveh Cohen
Michael Nielsen
Amon Tobin
Series Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell
Engine LEAD (Modified Unreal Engine 2.5)[2][3]
Havok physics[2]
Platform(s)
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Action-adventure, stealth
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Distribution Optical disc, download

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction is a 2010 action-adventure stealth video game, developed by Ubisoft Montreal as part of the Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell series. Key members of the Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas team, such as creative director Maxime Béland worked on the game. Gameloft released a handheld version for Apple's iOS on May 27, 2010.[7] There are also versions available for the Android, Windows Phone and Bada. This was Michael Ironside's final voice performance as Sam Fisher.

Gameplay[edit]

The Mark and Execute gameplay in use. Here, Sam Fisher guns down burglars in the tutorial flashback.

Splinter Cell: Conviction introduces a number of new gameplay features to the Splinter Cell series, one of which is the "Mark & Execute" feature, which allows the player to mark specific targets, such as enemies or objects, and shoot them in rapid succession without manually targeting each one. The player can choose to prioritize these targets, so that, for example, he can distract one guard by shooting out a light in his vicinity and then take out another guard. Another new feature is the "Last Known Position", which occurs when the player breaks the line of sight of an alerted guard. This creates a visual silhouette where the guard thinks Sam is, allowing the player to flank his enemies.

Other new features include the ability to interrogate characters in real-time, and use objects in the surrounding environment against them. Mission objectives and key plot points are projected onto walls within the in-game world, in order to keep the player immersed in the gameplay. Several other features, such as blending into crowds, improvising gadgets, and interaction with the environment, were announced, and according to creative director Maxime Béland would have given the game "a lot of Bourne Identity influence," but were scrapped after the development team decided that going in this direction would be taking too much of a risk.[13]

Some of the features that were part of the last four games in the series do not appear in this game. Sam's hybrid night/heat vision goggles and his multipurpose SC-20K assault rifle, which were the mainstay of the last four games, no longer appear. His light sensor is also absent, although change in the screen saturation now shows whether Sam is hidden from view. Sam can no longer move or hide dead bodies, nor can he knock enemies unconscious, as all equipment that helped doing the latter are absent. Lock picking and hacking minigames are also not included in the game.

One of Ubisoft's stated goals for Conviction was to make the game more accessible.[14] According to Béland, Chaos Theory is "very hardcore", which turned off many players and disconnected people from the fantasy of being Sam Fisher. Béland contrasted the earlier games in the series with works containing James Bond or Jason Bourne, who "run fast, they don't make noise, they kill one, two, three or four guys super quickly," and he stated that Conviction delivers a similarly dynamic experience with more of an emphasis on action than previous Splinter Cell games.[14]

Multiplayer[edit]

Multiplayer mode in Splinter Cell: Conviction involves both split screen, System link (Xbox 360), and online cooperative mode, plus a "Deniable Ops" mode, involving four modes that pit players against AI enemies in game modes such as "Hunter" (where the player must kill a set number of enemies), "Infiltration" (where the player must kill a set number of enemies without being seen), "Last Stand" (where the player must protect a bomb as enemies try to disarm it), and "Face-Off" (a competitive version of "Hunter").[15] "Face-Off" is the game's only competitive multiplayer mode, as it features the ability to kill the opposing player. "Hunter", "Infiltration", and "Last Stand" can be played in single-player modes and do not always have to be played with a human partner. The game does not contain the "Spies Vs Mercenaries" mode featured in the previous games of the series.

According to co-op game director Patrick Redding, the stealth in Conviction is designed around new core elements like "Mark & Execute" and "Last Known Position".

Plot[edit]

The game's story is divided into two portions. The main portion is the game's single-player campaign, which puts the player in control of Sam Fisher. The "Prologue" portion of the game, however, is accessed through the multiplayer co-op mode, which puts two players in control of agents Archer and Kestrel.[16]

Prologue[edit]

Split screen mode of the co-op campaign. Archer (left) and Kestrel take armed guards by surprise.

Ten days prior to the events of the main game, Third Echelon agent Archer (voiced by Edward Yankie) and Voron agent Kestrel (Alex Ivanovici) are deployed to Nevsky Prospekt in Saint Petersburg, Russia to halt rogue elements of the Russian military from selling advanced warheads on the black market. Intelligence from Andriy Kobin (Elias Toufexis) has pointed to drug and human trafficker Valentin Lesovsky (Mark Camacho) as the broker for the sale, and Archer and Kestrel are to terminate Lesovsky and his associate, Boris Sychev (Alain Goulem), as well as gaining Lesovsky's contact list.

Having completed their mission, Archer and Kestrel are deployed to the Russian embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan to gather intelligence on an arms deal conducted by former Russian GRU colonel Leonid Bykhov. They observe the deal and see Bhykov betray his associate, Tagizade, ordering his men to kill him. Archer and Kestrel prevent the destruction of the weapons crates, learning that the weapons Bhykov was going to sell were Block II JDAM missile guidance kits. They interrogate Bhykov, learning that he is working with Major General Kerzakov, who is in the Yastreb Complex, an underground fortress situated underneath Moscow's Red Square.

They infiltrate the complex and learn the location of the EMP warheads. They render the JDAM kits inoperable by using their portable EMP devices, and download data from multiple servers to trace the EMP devices to the Mozdok Proving Grounds. Sneaking aboard a supply truck, they infiltrate the Proving Grounds and secure the EMP devices with the help of Kobin. However, during the middle of extraction, Third Echelon director Tom Reed (James A. Woods) contacts Archer and orders him to kill Kestrel. Kestrel learns of the order from reading Archer's OPSAT device, forcing him to act in self-defense. Either Archer or Kestrel can survive, and Kobin then executes the survivor in the next cutscene.

Main game[edit]

The events of the main game take place three years after that of Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Former Navy SEAL Victor Coste (Howard Siegel) is being interrogated by a PMC called Black Arrow, and recounts the events of Conviction in the past tense.

Sam Fisher (Michael Ironside) is investigating in Valletta, Malta regarding rumors that the hit-and-run death of his daughter, Sarah might not have been accidental. As he investigates, Anna "Grim" Grímsdóttir (Claudia Besso), Sam's former colleague, contacts him and warns him of the imminent attack by a group of hitmen. Sam kills them, and goes after their contractor, Andriy Kobin, a drug runner who was responsible for Sarah's death. He infiltrates Kobin's mansion, slays Kobin's guards and interrogates Kobin, but Sam is captured by a Third Echelon strike team before being able to extract anything useful.

He is relocated to Price Airfield in Virginia, where he is to be interrogated by Grim and the Black Arrow. Grim, however, kills the guard and releases Sam, revealing that she is working for President Caldwell (Lynne Adams), investigating suspicious circumstances concerning Third Echelon Director Tom Reed, Black Arrow and stolen Russian EMP technology. She claims that Sarah is in fact alive, and helps Sam escape the Airfield.

After escaping, Sam meets Victor Coste at a county fair at the Washington Monument, receives some equipment, and learns that Lucius Galliard (Tyrone Benskin), the owner of Black Arrow,[17] has tasked the PMC to provide corporate security for White Box Technologies, his recently purchased R&D company specializing in EMP technology. Sam infiltrates White Box Technologies and witnesses Black Arrow murdering scientists that are no longer needed. He hacks a high security White Box computer and retrieves strategic data about an operation involving EMP for Grim's analysts to study. He escapes the facility after a firefight with armed Black Arrow gunmen, triggering an EMP to cover his tracks. He is later directed to the Lincoln Memorial on orders from President Caldwell, in order to eavesdrop on a conversation between Reed and Galliard. The conversation and the subsequent interrogation of Galliard reveals that the operation, due in 24 hours, is funded and organized by a group called "Megiddo"; Galliard is shot dead before he can reveal more. Sam gives chase but the assassin is killed by a car bomb.

Sam leaves the scene for the Third Echelon headquarters; after blowing his way into the building, killing its armed forces and recovering a set of sonar goggles from an ally named Fryman (Graham Cuthbertson), he raids Reed's office. Instead of finding Reed, Sam finds Kobin and interrogates him. Kobin reveals that Reed, acting on Megiddo's orders, is planning to activate three massive EMP devices in Washington DC and assassinate Caldwell in the ensuing chaos, allowing Vice President Calvin Samson (Larry Day) take over the presidency. In return, Reed would be promoted. Kobin also reveals that he faked Sarah's death on orders from Grim. Grim confirms this, playing an audio recording of the deceased former Director Irving Lambert (Don Jordan). Sam learns that Lambert had found out that there was a mole in Third Echelon who planned to use Sarah as leverage against Sam. Lambert staged Sarah's death in order to nullify this plan, but was not able to locate the mole. Grim urges an enraged Sam to destroy the EMP device in the Michigan Avenue Reservoir, as Sarah's apartment is within its blast radius. At this time, the Third Echelon building's self-destruct protocol activates and Sam is forced to escape before the building explodes.

With the aid of Coste, Sam attacks the Michigan Avenue Reservoir. After slaughtering the Black Arrow forces defending the site, Sam marks the EMP generators for Coste to destroy from the air. Sam is then extracted by Coste and has a brief reunion with Sarah (Victoria Sanchez) before the two remaining EMP's are activated, destroying most electronic devices in the city and causing general chaos. Shortly afterwards, Coste's helicopter is shot down by a surface-to-air missile but all three survive. While Coste takes Sarah to safety, Sam journeys through downtown D.C. seeing the chaos and fear the EMP's have caused. He assaults the White House, now strewn with United States Secret Service corpses, engaging the occupying Black Arrow troops and Third Echelon agents in combat. After shooting and immobilizing the corrupt Vice President, Sam regroups with Grim.

Grim and Sam must enter the Oval Office without alarming Reed, who may kill the President. To that end, Grim shoots Sam in the left shoulder and pretends to have detained him at gunpoint, allowing them to enter the Oval Office safely. Reed prepares to execute Sam and the President, revealing that Caldwell was going to shut down Third Echelon after Lambert's death. Reed plans to frame Sam for assassinating Caldwell as supposed proof to the country that Third Echelon is still needed. At this point, Sam and Grim spring into action, disarming Reed and killing his escorts. Sam interrogates Reed while United States Army soldiers extract Caldwell. It is then revealed that Reed was the mole Lambert was looking for; and depending on the player's choice, Sam or Grim execute Reed.

The story then returns to Coste's interrogation. Coste states that Sam, in his last conversation has promised to protect him just as he would protect his brother. At that moment, an alarm starts to blare, while an explosion accompanied by gunfire is heard in the background, causing all of the interrogators to abandon the interview.

Development[edit]

The existence of a sequel to Double Agent was leaked to the internet on September 21, 2006 through a 2GB rar file containing, among other media, 75 concept art images of as-yet unannounced next-generation games uploaded to Ubisoft's public FTP site.[18] The leaked images showed gloomy images of the Washington Monument under military occupation, as well as roadside views of Washington, D.C.

Conviction was officially announced on May 23, 2007 when Ubisoft released a trailer for the game. It depicted a more rugged-looking Sam with long hair and a fully-grown beard. He had the ability to blend in with the environment, interact with tables and chairs and utilize hand-to-hand combat against enemies, making the game appear less stealth-based than previous games. The lighting and shadow effects also showed a vast improvement over Double Agent. The game was originally due for release on November 16, 2007.[19] However, it missed its initial launch date, and on May 19, 2008, Xbox World reported that Splinter Cell: Conviction was "officially on hold," and had been taken "back to the drawing board."[20] While Ubisoft never confirmed this, they did announce that the game had been pushed back to the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

The game resurfaced at E3 2009, with a completely new visual style and a more casual-looking Sam. The developers confirmed that the "new" Conviction had been in development since early 2008, commenting that "the gameplay has evolved a lot" and "the visual direction is simply much better."[21] The game was given a November 2009 release date at E3, but was later pushed back to the first quarter of 2010. After initially announcing a release date of February 23, Ubisoft delayed the game again until April.[22] On February 4, 2010, Ubisoft officially announced that the game would be released on April 13 for the Xbox 360.[23]

Conviction supports AMD's multi-monitor-technology Eyefinity.[24]

Audio[edit]

On July 16, 2007, it was announced that composers Kaveh Cohen and Michael Nielsen, in association with music house Groove Worx, would be composing the score to Conviction, their first score for a video game.[25] On October 25, 2007, Soundtrack.net posted a news item from the scoring session for the game, featuring photographs of the orchestral recording of the music.[26] On January 28, 2010, a message was posted on Amon Tobin's website, stating that he would contribute to the game.[27]

On March 29, 2010, it was revealed in an interview that Michael Ironside considered not returning to the role as Sam Fisher as a result of not being able to add more to the character. However, he changed his mind when Ubisoft sent him a copy of the script.[28]

Release[edit]

Retail versions[edit]

Splinter Cell: Conviction is available on the Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows platforms, as well as mobile versions for the iOS and Java ME. Ubisoft has stated that it has no plans to release it on the PlayStation 3 with Max Béland, the creative director of Splinter Cell further stating; "Well, Splinter Cell was originally built on Xbox and we've had a great relationship with Microsoft. So Conviction is an exclusive for 360, it's not going to go to PS3."[29] The PC version implemented Ubisoft's new DRM, which requires a permanent internet connection.[30]

Conviction was released in four retail versions. As well as the standard version, a Special Edition, a Collector's Edition, and a Limited Collector's Edition were also released.

The Special Edition, called Shadow Edition, was exclusive to Britain, specifically, Game, Gamestation and Gameplay, and featured alternate box art, a SPAS-12 silenced shotgun, early in-game access to the SC3000 and a special "Shadow Armor" playable skin. Pre-orders also included Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction Projector Torch.

The Collector's Edition was exclusive to the United States and Canada, and featured a USB flash drive, an artbook based on the Splinter Cell series, two decal stickers, a comic book detailing the events leading up to Conviction, and two in-game items: an MP5-SD3 sub-machine gun and a Third Echelon spy suit.[31] Due to a number of defective USB drives, Ubisoft lowered the price of the collector's edition by $10.[32]

The Limited Collector's Edition was exclusive to European, Middle Eastern, Asian and Pacific territories. It included a high quality edition box with a Sam Fisher figurine, steel-book DVD case with the game disc, manual and game soundtrack CD (24 tracks), and a card with 5 bonus in-game content codes: for the MP-5 sub-machine gun, SC-3000 assault rifle, SMG-2 machine pistol, "Infiltration" game mode and the Shadow Armor outfit.

Some individual stores also released their own variations. GameStop pre-orders included a SPAS-12 silenced shotgun code. Best Buy pre-orders included a SC-3000 assault rifle code. Amazon.co.uk released its own Limited Edition which contained the standard version of the game, a separate DVD case called "Exclusive Pre-order Pack" and the SPAS-12 code, a 32-page comic book ("Digging in the Ashes") and a DVD detailing the making of the game. Play.com's version of the game contained the standard edition, plus Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction carabiner torch.

In March 2010, Microsoft announced a special limited edition black Xbox 360 console with Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction. The unit includes a 250GB hard drive, two black wireless controllers, a black wired headset, an Ethernet cable, a standard definition composite A/V cable, and the standard edition of the game.[33]

Ports[edit]

On May 27, 2010, a port of the game was released for the iOS. Developed and published by Gameloft, it featured very similar gameplay, with the biggest difference being a simplification of the story, omitting the entire prologue, and many individual scenes and characters from the main game. However, the port did feature an exclusive level not found in the original game - a speed boat level set on the Potomac River.[34]

In June 2010, Ubisoft announced a version for the Mac OS X. It was set for release on October 19, 2010, but was delayed until February 17, 2011.[11]

A port was released as part of the Windows Phone "Must Have Games" promotion on February 22, 2012.[35]

Downloadable content[edit]

Splinter Cell: Conviction released weekly unlockable content every Thursday through the in-game "Extras" menu. The content included weapons, gadgets, multiplayer skins and Deniable Ops maps.[36][37][38] Conviction also continued with Ubisoft's new Uplay downloadable rewards program. With Uplay, players earn units for completing set in-game tasks that can be used to purchase various content in Splinter Cell, or saved for content in future Ubisoft releases.[39][40] On May 27, 2010, the only official DLC map pack was released, titled "The Insurgency Pack." It features four new levels for the Deniable Ops mode, and nine new achievements for a total of 250 gamerpoints.[41]

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier multiplayer beta[edit]

On April 19, 2012, a closed multiplayer beta was made available to owners of Splinter Cell: Conviction on Xbox 360 for the upcoming installment in the Ghost Recon series, as well as people who preordered the game from GameStop or PlayStation Plus members.

Soundtrack[edit]

Original Soundtrack[edit]

Splinter Cell: Conviction - Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Michael Nielsen/Kaveh Cohen
Released
April 13, 2010
Recorded Groove Addicts
Genre Video game soundtrack
Producer Ubisoft Music

On April 13, 2010, Ubisoft Music in conjunction with composers Michael Nielsen and Kaveh Cohen released a 16-track Official Soundtrack to Splinter Cell: Conviction exclusively via iTunes.[42]

Original Soundtrack [L.C.E.][edit]

Splinter Cell: Conviction [Limited Collector's Edition] - Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Michael Nielsen/Kaveh Cohen/Amon Tobin
Recorded Groove Addicts
Genre Video game soundtrack
Producer Ubisoft Music/Amon Tobin

With the release of the Limited Collector's Edition of Splinter Cell: Conviction, the "Original Soundtrack" CD by Michael Nielsen and Kaveh Cohen was included, featuring one track composed and produced by Amon Tobin. No track list is incorporated onto the CD or packaging. However, on April 18, 2010, Nielson posted a track list for the CD on his Myspace page.[43]

Composed and Produced by Amon Tobin †† Musical score featured only in the "Deniable Ops: Insurgency" DLC

Tracks by Amon Tobin[edit]

On April 20, 2010, a news bulletin was posted on Amon Tobin's website following the release of what is understood to be the majority of his contributions to the Splinter Cell: Conviction's score.[44] The tracks are available to stream from his website using the embedded "Bandcamp!" service:

  • White House [4:05]
  • Sarah!!! [0:55]
  • Corridor Cue [0:55]
  • Oval Office [1:47]
  • Menu Theme [2:18]
  • Coste [2:16]
  • Roll Credits (Unreleased) [2:52]

An alternate version of "White House", White House ["Just For Kicks" Alternate Version] [2:25], was given away as a freebie, provided users joined Tobin's promotional mailing list at the time.[45]

Additional licensed music[edit]

DJ Shadow's "Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt" features in the final sequence of the Third Echelon mission. The instrumental version present in Splinter Cell: Conviction comes from the Deluxe Edition of Shadow's 1996 album Endtroducing......[46]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Reception
Review scores
Publication Score
iOS PC Xbox 360
1UP.com A-
Eurogamer 7/10[53]
Game Informer 9/10[63]
GamePro 5/5[56] 5/5[57]
GamesRadar 4/5 stars[55]
GameSpot 6.5/10[59] 8/10[58]
GameTrailers 8.9/10[60]
IGN 7.4/10[34] 8.5/10[62] 9.3/10[61]
Official Xbox Magazine 8.5/10[57]
Official Xbox Magazine UK 8/10[57]
PC Gamer UK 87/100[56]
PC Zone 84/100[56]
VideoGamer.com 9/10[64]
X-Play 4/5 stars
Aggregate scores
GameRankings 74.14%[49] 82.54%[48] 86.50%[47]
Metacritic 72/100[52] 83/100[51] 85/100[50]

Conviction has received mostly positive feedback from critics on Xbox 360 and PC.[47][48][50][51]

IGN's Alec Meer awarded it a score of 9.3 out of 10 and gave it an "Editor's Choice Award."[61] Edge magazine's Tim Ingham awarded Conviction 8/10 in a lead review, claiming that the title is "in reach of greatness." He was particularly impressed with Sam Fisher's ability to turn any environment into "torture chambers" at the press of a button. The main points of criticism were its short length and that too much of the title is played in monochrome.[65] GameSpot's Kevin Van Ord awarded the game a score of 8 out of 10, praising its cooperative mode and storytelling, but criticizing its short length and slimmed-down stealth elements, as well as most of the interrogation sections, stating that interrogations were a "missed opportunity" and "more predictable than provocative."[58] GameTrailers gave it an 8.9 out of 10 praising the "top-notch voice acting" and the game as a whole, saying "Conviction is a gripping new chapter in the Splinter Cell saga."[60] Game Informer gave the game a 9 out of 10[63] and GamePro gave it a 5 out of 5.[57]

Conviction had a less welcome reception with some PC reviewers. GameSpot's Kevin Van Ord scored it 6.5/10, citing bugs, missing features, connection issues and a higher price than a typical PC game.[59] PC Gamer UK gave a score of 87/100, but wrote "we can't recommend you buy this game with the current DRM."[56]

Sales[edit]

486,000 copies of the game were sold in April 2010 in the U.S., which made it the best-selling game for that month.[66]

As of July 2010, the game has sold 1.9 million copies on PC and Xbox 360.[67]

References[edit]

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