iPad Game Review: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction HD Reviewed by Guy Dayen
Move over, Bond and Bourne, Sam Fisher is back, and he's got a big axe to grind. If you've ever wanted to be the star of a big-budget action movie, here's your chance. Are you ready for the most important, and personal, mission of your life?
You are Sam Fisher, an embittered Special Forces agent who went off the grid following the death of his daughter, the only thing that kept him connected to his humanity. After veiled hints that his daughter's death was not what it seemed, Sam gets back in the game and follows a trail that will lead from Iraq to the inner recesses of Washington, D. C. Your only resources are your highly developed skills: stealth is your specialty and killing your enemies quickly and efficiently is second nature to you. Get more information by interrogating enemies and expose the web of intrigue that surrounds the agency you used to trust.
There will be much danger and much action in this thrill-packed adventure. You will hide, you will run, you will jump, you will climb, you will fight and you will shoot your way across the world and on a boat in the Potomac River. A wide variety of weapons will gradually come to be at your disposal as you make your way and find out the truth about what happened to Sam?s daughter. In some instances, you?ll have to MacGyver it and improvise with objects at hand if you are to survive to play another level, and that makes a great game even more fun!
I don?t want to say too much, because it would spoil the twists and turns of the storyline. You?ll have to play for yourself, and work through eleven different levels as you explore a variety of locations. The game is easily as extensive as any video game for the PlayStation or the Xbox, and you?ll find yourself in the middle of frantic and intense action as you strive to reach your ultimate target.
To give you a fighting chance, there are three levels of difficulty. You can start at Cadet and then continue through to Agent and Splinter Cell levels. Take advantage of that choice, and learn the intricacies of the game before trying the hardest setting. You will find that a full and satisfying experience is in store.
The graphics in Splinter Cell are nothing short of top of the line. They are on par with anything you would find for console or PC. The level of detail is truly powerful. From the cut scenes that flesh out the back story as you progress in the game, or provide an overview of the eight gameplay locations, to the wealth of details to be found in each of them, Splinter Cell is a visual feast. The animation is extremely smooth; the character movements are fluid and lifelike, and there is no lag when the action gets frantic as you move, duck and shoot in an attempt to stay alive and complete your investigation. The Potomac River sequence is especially good, and was made exclusively for the iPad. Graphics are rendered in high-definition, and the 3D look is extremely well executed. Satellite maps, nicely textured buildings, great character design, in-game real-time objectives; this is truly superior art direction here. The quality of the graphics will give your less fortunate friends iPad envy for sure!
A really neat touch is that text, projected in the environment at many points of the game, gives you objectives and directions. The look of it is very reminiscent of shows like ?Warehouse 13? and ?Fringe?. It?s a cutting-edge trend in Hollywood, and it finds a welcome application here.
Something else that is particularly impressive is the touch control scheme. Splinter Cell makes wonderful use of the iPad?s multitouch capabilities. Especially innovative is the option to place the controls anywhere you want them on the screen; this allows you to experiment and find the most natural placement for your own particular playing style. I hope this is a development that will be found in many more games in the future; it?s a very useful enhancement. More, please!
Sound design is just as telling as the visuals. In many releases, sad to say, the gaming experience is ruined by sub-par voice acting or poor sound effects. This is definitely not a problem here; the acting is extremely professional, and quite as good as anything coming out of Hollywood. The sound effects are of the highest quality, and that quality comes through especially well if you are playing the game with headphones. Bullets and explosions (Many bullets and a lot of explosions!) seem real, and the beating of your heart in your ears as the adrenaline is pumping lets you feel like you?re right at the heart of the action.
The in-game music is very atmospheric, and very well-suited to the action genre. This is another area where the effort put into this game becomes evident. It would not be out of place in any big-budget summer action flick.
There?s not an option to play your own music, and this may be deliberate. Substituting other music to the game soundtrack could well ruin the cinematic experience. Besides, you?ll be so busy trying to stay alive that you won?t have time to miss your favorite tunes!
Anyone who enjoys Third-Person Shooters will want this game for their collection. It?s one of the very best examples of the genre available for the iPad. Be ready to devote a lot of time to the game: you have much to accomplish before you reach your final goal. Many villains will meet their end at your hands and you?ll just have to shoot quickly and ask questions later (Maybe...). Immerse yourself in an exciting, action-packed cinematic adventure, and show the bad guys how it?s done!
Parents should be aware that there?s much mayhem going on in the game; and while it is not gory, killing enemies is an integral part of the game. Therefore, the game is more suitable to older teenagers and adults.
This is a terrific game, well worth the price of admission. The depth of content is extensive, and the option to choose among three levels of difficulty and to undertake two different missions guarantees good replay value. Considering what the cost of such a game would be on other platforms, you?re getting true value here. Go ahead - this is a purchase you definitely won?t regret.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5): 5
Graphics: 5 Hi-def graphics, an immersive cinematic ambience, a good variety of locations and very fluid animation all add up to a great gaming experience. Sound: 5 Talented voice acting, wonderful sound effects and atmospheric music add to what is already one of the best TPS games to come out for the iPad Controls: 5 Very responsive and intuitive. The ability to place controls anywhere on screen is fantastic; why haven?t we seen it done this well sooner? Gameplay: 5 The opportunity to see how you would fare in the world of high-stakes espionage, eleven different levels, two distinct missions, and the option of tailoring the difficulty level of the game will have you coming back for more.
Playing Hints and Tips:
- Don?t stay in one place too long. You are a master of the art of stealth, so make good use of your skills. Keep moving! - Remember that you are expert at climbing; don?t be afraid to go up in this game. Often, it is the only way to progress. - While you may be tempted to skip cut scenes, you should not do so when you play the game for the first time. They give valuable info at each location that will be useful in orienting yourself and planning your route. - Keep to the shadows as much as you can; they provide valuable cover. - Watch your cross-hairs, and take your shots quickly when the cross-hairs turn red. If you don?t kill the bad guys quickly, they WILL find you and kill you without mercy. - Do make use of the Mark & Execute feature that lets you mark multiple targets at one time and shoot them all at once. Remember, however, that it only works with low-level guards.