Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction is an 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. There are also versions available for the Android, Windows Phone and Bada. The game was followed by a sequel in 2013 titled Splinter Cell: Blacklist.
The game received positive reviews from critics with praise of its polished gameplay, art direction, and engaging narrative while criticism on its short length of the campaign, and the devolution of stealth mechanics compared to previous titles.
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.
Some of the features that were present in 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. Sam has been equipped with pistols with unlimited ammo and optional suppressors, which helps him to takedown his enemies in a stealthy way.
One of Ubisoft’s stated goals for Conviction was to make the game more accessible. 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.
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”). “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”.
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.
Ten days prior to the events of the main game, Third Echelon agent “Archer” (Edward Yankie) and his Russian counterpart, 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. During their extraction, Third Echelon director Tom Reed (James A. Woods) calls Archer and orders him to kill Kestrel; concurrently, Kestrel reads Archer’s OPSAT (Operational Satellite Uplink) device, forcing him to act in self-defense. Whilst either player can die, the canon ending has Kestrel fatally shooting Archer; overcome with grief and unaware that Kobin has entered, Kestrel is shot in the head.
The events of the main game take place three years after that of Splinter Cell: Double Agent. A private military company called “Black Arrow” is interrogating former Navy SEAL Victor Coste (Howard Siegel), who recounts the events of Splinter Cell: Conviction.
After quitting Third Echelon, Sam Fisher (Michael Ironside) heads to Valletta, Malta, to investigate rumors that the hit-and-run death of his daughter, Sarah, might not have been an accident. Out of thin air, Anna “Grim” Grímsdóttir (Claudia Besso), Sam’s former colleague, contacts him and warns him of the imminent attack by a group of hitmen. Sam neutralizes them and goes after their contractor, Andriy Kobin, a drug runner who was responsible for Sarah’s death. He infiltrates Kobin’s mansion, kills his guards, and interrogates him, but a Third Echelon Splinter Cell team captures him before he can extract anything useful.
Grim and Black Arrow bring Sam to Price Airfield in Virginia, where they are to interrogate him. However, Grim kills the guard and releases Sam, revealing that she is working for U.S. President Patricia Caldwell (Lynne Adams), investigating suspicious circumstances concerning Third Echelon Director Tom Reed, Black Arrow, and stolen Russian EMP technology. She claims that Sarah is still alive and helps Sam escape the airfield.
After that, Sam meets Victor Coste at a county fair at the Washington Monument to receive some equipment. He also learns that Lucius Galliard (Tyrone Benskin), CEO of Black Arrow, has tasked the private military company to provide 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 gunfight with Black Arrow men, triggering an EMP to cover his tracks. Later, President Caldwell directs him to the Lincoln Memorial to eavesdrop on Reed and Galliard. The conversation and the subsequent interrogation of Galliard reveal that a group called “Megiddo” funds and organizes the operation, which is due in 24 hours. A man in police uniform shoots Galliard dead before running away. Sam chases him, but a car bomb kills the assassin.
Sam leaves the scene for the Third Echelon headquarters. After fighting his way into the building and recovering a set of advanced sonar goggles from Grim’s friend Charlie Fryman (Graham Cuthbertson), he raids Reed’s office. Instead of finding Reed, Sam finds Kobin and interrogates him. Kobin reveals that Reed (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) to take over the presidency. Reed would get a promotion in return. Kobin also reveals that Grim gave him orders to fake Sarah’s death. Grim confirms this by playing an audio recording of the deceased former director Irving Lambert (Don Jordan). Lambert had found out that a mole in Third Echelon plotted to threaten Sarah’s safety and use her as leverage against Sam. Although Lambert successfully staged Sarah’s death to foil this plan, he was unable to identify 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 escapes before the building explodes.
With the aid of Coste, Sam attacks the Michigan Avenue Reservoir. After slaughtering Black Arrow mercenaries 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 EMPs are activated, destroying most of the electronic defenses in the city and causing chaos. Shortly afterward, a surface-to-air missile takes down Coste’s helicopter, but all three survive. While Coste takes Sarah to safety, Sam journeys through downtown Washington seeing the chaos and fear the EMPs have caused. He assaults the White House, now strewn with the United States Secret Service corpses, engaging the occupying Black Arrow mercenaries and Third Echelon troops 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. Reed finally reveals himself to be the very mole Lambert was finding. At this point, the player has the choice to have Sam or Grim execute Reed (canonically, Fisher spares Reed, only for Grim to kill him).
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 his brother. At that moment, the interrogators hear an alarm, followed by an explosion and gunfire in the background. They abandon the interview and leave Coste behind.