‘Splinter Cell’ the new ’24’

Joe Dusbabek

Sam Fisher wants you to know he is angry. This is probably the biggest tonal shift in the new “”Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction”” and it represents a decisive change for the series. The “”Splinter Cell”” games have traditionally been about pure stealth. Accomplishing trial-and-error objectives while slinking through the shadows as a Third Echelon spy helped define the stealth genre, along with Hideo Kojima’s “”Metal Gear Solid”” series.

Now things are different. Fisher’s daughter is dead, and he has split from the government. He’s a fugitive, forced to run while trying to uncover the secrets that made him one. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re the hunted, though — it’s exactly the opposite.

At the center is the “”Mark and Execute”” system, which you can use with different weapons to mark your targets and take them out in spectacular ways. Ubisoft has done a fantastic job here; let’s just say Jack Bauer wouldn’t know how to handle Sam Fisher. The whole game isn’t automatically played for you, however, as you’ll need to rack up kills in order to fill up your ability to use the system. Altogether, the third-person action is well balanced and the able handling of the story makes it that much better.

Interrogations feel like a lost opportunity, however. They are rarely as fun as they have the potential to be, and there are no environments where you can use any object you want to elicit information out of your suspects. The bathroom interrogation featured in a lot of promotional videos is actually the best one, and it’s unfortunate there aren’t others of the same high quality.

The co-op mode deserves mention as well, as it’s the most fun I’ve ever had with the series. Diehards will likely cry afoul about the mode and how it doesn’t meet series convention, but there’s rarely as much fun to be had blowing away 20 men in a single room with a good buddy either online or on split-screen. The different scenarios are fresh and enjoyable for nearly everyone.

“”Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction”” does away with a lot of what made the series inaccessible for new gamers and in the process creates an action game with plenty to enjoy. Even though the story lacks serious length and there are a few wasted opportunities, “”Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction”” is an adrenaline-filled thrill ride you can enjoy by yourself or with friends.

Score: 8.5/10