Splinter Cell Conviction sneaked onto Xbox One’s backward compatibility list today, silently dropping from a ceiling-mounted pipe and snapping the necks of several other Xbox 360 games already playable on the console. Players with the Conviction already in their library (either on disc or digitally) can play it immediately – otherwise, it’s available at a 50% discount of just £4.49 from now until February 12th.
After a number of “bad days at work” in 2006’s globe-trotting Splinter Cell Double Agent, everyone’s favourite gravelly voiced NSA operative quit Third Echelon to deal with some personal issues. Conviction begins with Fisher off the grid in Valetta, the Maltese capital, investigating reports that the hit-and-run death of his daughter might not have been entirely accidental. His search for answers leads him into a complex web of conspiracy that spirals back to the one place he thought he’d crossed off his travel itinerary for good – Washington D.C.
Conviction brings a raft of smart evolutions to the series traditional gameplay. The usual methodical sneaking-and-surveillance is all there, but smoothed out with gameplay tweaks such as Last Known Position (where a transparent silhouette of Fisher remains where enemies last spotted him), and more predictable and fluid cover mechanics.
The gameplay also reflects Sam’s very personal mission. No longer working for Third Echelon, he’s without the government-issue gadgets he relied on in earlier games, forcing him to be more brutal and improvisational. Tactics like Mark and Execute allow Fisher to tag multiple enemies and take them all down in one swift move, while the game also brings a wider range of options for those who want to “go loud.” New interrogation mechanics also allow Fisher to make creative use of the environment – bad guy won’t talk? How about after you’ve used his face for a series of impromptu plumbing alterations in a dive bar bathroom?
Aside from the gripping single-player story, there’s also a great co-op campaign (playable split-screen and online) in which players take on the roles of Archer and Kestrel – agents from Third Echelon and its Russian equivalent Voron respectively. The two must work together to prevent Russian military weapons of mass destruction from the falling into the wrong hands.
Splinter Cell Conviction is available now through the Xbox Store on Xbox One and Xbox 360.