Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Splinter Cell Conviction Co-Op Review


I spent 7 solid hours with the Splinter Cell Conviction Co-op mode just now.  I wanted to write a post right away even though it is 3:45am and I should sleep instead.  I'm shooting from the hip with my thoughts, but here it goes.

This game is fun!  The Splinter Cell Conviction Co-op campaign is worth your time if you are interested in playing a co-op stealth game.  The campaign is only 6-8 hours but it is entirely separate from the single player campaign, which adds value in my mind.  I played the entire campaign without taking a break and I was never once bored.  From me, that is huge praise.  I get bored of games quickly when I feel like they have nothing new to offer.  Splinter Cell Conviction delivers.

Part of the reason I liked it so much may be that I could never really get into the other Splinter Cell games.  I struggled with the controls and generally got frustrated/bored.  I am coming to Splinter Cell as completely new experience for me.  I've read that Conviction doesn't play the same way past Splinter Cells have played, but I would have no idea.  All I know is that it is a stealth game executed superbly.

Another reason I had such a great time is that my brother and I played the game split-screen.  I feel that a lot of games released lately only have online co-op.  Sometimes I forget how much fun it is to play with another person in the room with me.  It really adds to the cooperation and communication.  I wish more games would leave split-screen co-op in the final version.

The star of the show is the mark and execute system which really brings the game together.  If you kill an enemy with a melee kill the execution option opens up.  Then, you can mark a certain amount of targets - depending on your gun - and once they are all marked and within view a simple tap of the Y button will kill them all.  After that, the execution command is gone until you are able to get another melee kill.

And the way executions are done as a team can be insane.  There were times when my brother and I would clear a room with 8 guys in about 2 seconds because in co-op the game lets both people join in on the execution kill.  This means that my brother could activate his execution and - as long as I had targets marked - I could use his execution to pull off mine for free.  They were definite badass moments.  I would still have my execution available and we could quickly follow it up with another round of marks and kills.  It took a lot of coordination and teamwork, but we were so proud of the payoff!

There were even times we could get away with shooter tactics.  Some of our more crazy charges on the enemy almost felt like playing Gears of War.  Charge an enemy, melee them to death, hide behind cover, reposition, and repeat.  It speaks a lot about the game that it does equally well with this play style and  complete stealth.  It takes some really smart design decisions to meld stealth and shooting.

There were really only two negatives that stuck out to me.  The story in the co-op game was lacking.  I don't really know what we were doing except that we were chasing EMPs around.  Hopefully that changes in the single player campaign.  The other problem is the way waypoints are displayed.  They aren't differentiated enough from the symbol above an enemy when they have been marked.  If my brother and I both have 3 enemies marked the screen is full of little white arrows and I have no idea where the next waypoint is.

Aside from my very minor gripes I absolutely loved the co-op experience.  I may even play it through again on a higher difficulty in the next few days.  If you are a fan of co-op and stealth games I would highly recommend Splinter Cell Conviction.

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