According to a popular alcoholic beverage’s adverts, ‘good things come to those who wait.’
Going by that logic, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction should be damn near perfect considering it’s been three long years since the Pocket Gamer Silver Award-winning Chaos Theory.
Well, the wait is over, and Conviction is one of the best mobile action games of the year so far.
Actually, calling it an ‘action’ game is a little unfair, as SC:C is more about avoiding fights than getting stuck in, despite what the plot might suggest.
The game begins with Sam Fisher, ex-government agent and all-round bad-ass, tracking down his daughter’s murderer in the streets of Malta. But it soon turns into a race against time to stop a bomb, uncover a splinter cell conspiracy, and save the president.
To get to that point, Sam has to creep, sneak, batter, shoot, fight off attack dogs, blow up jet planes, and dodge the slowest moving bullets in history.
Mix it up
It’s exciting stuff, helped by the fact that every one of the 13 levels in the game has something new and unique waiting to surprise you.
Whether it’s a cunning new trap, toy, environmental puzzle, or simply a new twist on a previous feature, SC:C is never boring, even if the last few missions feel a little on the short side.
All this action is wrapped up by some excellent graphics that vary wildly from level to level, from a dusty theatre to the ledges around a glass skyscraper.
The animations are just as impressive, with a silky smooth movement about them that lays down the gauntlet for other developers to match.
This would all be pointless if it was a pain to control, but Sam moves with the grace of a cat, flipping up onto rooftops, zipping down ropes, and vaulting behind cover without issue.
There’s no picky lining up of jumps and no sudden drops off a ledge because the animation hadn’t finished – just one smooth move after another, all performed with just enough hints and auto-correction to make you feel in control without ever stopping to patronise you.
It can be a little awkward at first to sneak up on a guard from behind, though, due to Sam automatically switching to a slow, creeping movement. But considering you gain more points for avoiding confrontations than actively looking for them, it doesn’t end up as too big an issue
Medal of honour
It’s both fairly easy and incredibly tempting to blast through SC:C in one sitting, but even if that happens there’s plenty of motivation for replaying through the game a few more times.
Part of this is down to the aforementioned points system, which awards medals for being a sneaky soul and penalises for running around like a loony.
Another aspect is the unlockable difficulty levels and nearly-always-tricky-to-reach dog tag collectables, which in turn unlock the ominous-sounding Warmonger difficulty setting.
The main reason SC:C succeeds, though, is that it’s great fun to play. While it may have been a long and gruelling wait for this latest iteration of Splinter Cell, the resulting game is certainly worth it.
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