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Splinter Cell: Conviction

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, Mobile

Cell damaged

Product: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction | Developer: Gameloft | Publisher: Gameloft | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction iPhone, thumbnail 1
Special operation agents are, we're informed, subjected to extensive psychological tests before they're put into action. The ability to think clearly and reasonably under duress is vital to their success in a highly dangerous environment.

An agent might be the best shot or great at hand-to-hand combat, but if they're likely to go postal when under pressure they won't be of much use.

Splinter Cell: Conviction has many of the attributes of a triple-A stealth-action thriller, but it's crippled by control eccentricities and core elements that just don't work as they should.

Bourne and bred

You play the role of a disillusioned Sam Fisher, now clear of his old special ops outfit and grieving the death of his daughter. When he hears the rumour that her death was no accident, he does what any one man killing machine with a chip on his shoulder would do and sets off in search of blood and answers.

His quest takes the form of a third-person action game with a substantial stealth element, so nipping between cover and taking enemies out before they see you is the order of the day.

The game's at its best when you're making serene, uncontested progress through the its relatively linear levels. Tapping on the context sensitive cover icons snaps you into temporary safety, allowing you to peek over or take a sneaky shot without too much risk.

Sidle your way up to an enemy un-noticed and you can either take them out with a brutal finish move or use them as a human shield as you trade bullets with their newly-alerted comrades.

Cover blown

As soon as things get a little hectic or your well crafted plans go awry, though, Splinter Cell: Conviction begins to suffer.

The game doesnt handle fast paced, close quarters firefights well, the drag-to-aim controls too sluggish and unreliable to flit between targets effectively.

The context sensitive actions, such as jumping over cover, are sticky and unreliable, and when there are multiple possibilities within a tight space (such as a cover point and a railing to jump over), the game gets confused.

Speaking of cover points, these are inconsistently applied. It seems they've been predetermined by the developer. Often you'll want to snap to a perfectly solid wall only to find that you can't - but not before an awkward period of running fruitlessly against a wall while several bullets embed themselves in your backside.

Operation compromised

Such frustrations are exacerbated by some irksome technical issues, such as a bug I encountered near the end of the first level that consistently and mystifyingly killed me as I was trying to clamber into a boat. A fresh start seemed to solve the issue, so it was a good thing it occurred near the beginning of the game.

Another occasion (again early on) saw all cover prompts disappearing for a whole section, turning the game temporarily into an unconvincing blaster.

The rest of the technical issues are less serious, but are consistently reproducable and hence accumulate to wreck the console-standard atmosphere Gameloft obviously wanted to create.

These include such things as being able to pass straight through park benches and bullet decals floating in the air as you try to shoot just above a wall. Or my personal favourite - Sam's pants appearing to catch on fire when skidding into cover and simultaneously engaging in a radio conversation.

Lacking conviction

It's a shame, because when things are going smoothly in Splinter Cell: Conviction it can be a highly entertaining game that strays perilously close to console standard. The way your current goal is spelled out on a nearby surface, for example, is a classy addition lifted straight from the console version.

Another highlight is the Mark & Execute facility, which lets you take multiple enemies out with a single button press. It's simple, yes, but is always immensely satisfying to pull off.

Also neatly realised is Sam's characteristic ability to peer under closed doors with a mirror - the cracked, distorted effect is both impressive and effective when it comes to planning an assault on a room.

Indeed, the general pace of the game and the variety of the situations you'll face is up there with the best action games on iPhone. You get the impression that, with a few more months of polish and refinement, Splinter Cell: Conviction could have been a contender for best in class.

As it is, inconsistent controls and technical glitches make for a schizophrenic experience rather than the solid, impeccably executed operation we were hoping for.
Splinter Cell: Conviction
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 27 May 2010
Splinter Cell: Conviction's fiddly controls and technical quirks spoil an otherwise pacy and entertaining action-stealth game
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