Splinter Cell: Conviction
|Sam Returns To 3rd Echelon|
, the most recent iteration in the Splinter Cell
franchise does some things really well, its mark and execute system
empowers the player, the interrogations are cathartic and a good way of
sneaking in plot exposition, the use of light both visually and in terms
of gamplay is stylish and functional, but it also commits some
unforgivable sins whilst undermining the ethos of the IP.
Splinter Cell Chaos Theory
, perhaps the pinnacle of the
series was a game of contrast, of chiaroscuro. Light and dark, right and
wrong, lethal and non-lethal. The game gave the player the agency to
walk the tightrope between these binaries and everything in between, it
was the fact it gave the player the choice to do so, coupled with the
'intentionality' as designer Clint Hocking
called it, to formulate a plan and then execute in such a way as to
manipulate the enemy like a master spy that brought such satisfaction.
Splinter Cell: Conviction
|Chiaroscuro enhanced by Monochrome|
removes the option to be non-lethal.
this mirrors the new Sam Fisher who has a new found disregard for life
according to the pain he feels for his lost daughter whom he is trying
to locate. But it damages the gameplay, which is the cost for this
re-imagining that I suppose I could grudgingly chalk up to thematic
consistency. So you go through the entire game, murdering anyone in your path, you can
clear an area without engaging all enemies but those who spot you,
usually must end up dead. So while you play without being given the
choice to spare a life, even of people just doing they're job, the
bodies pile up.
At the end of the game the climactic denouement that takes place
in the White House makes a great showdown shootout use of the game's most
innovative mechanic, the 'mark and execute', to get you out of a tight
spot, no unnecessary boss battle, good start. Then, you corner the
villain and he says his piece while you interrogate him in the manner
you've come to be accustomed to until button prompts to kill him start
to pop up, ignoring these you are finally confronted with an ultimatum.
Kill or Spare.
Why is the antagonist whom you've spent the whole game chasing down in order to rescue the member of your family who is most precious to you the one enemy you are able to spare. The one person Sam Fisher most wants to kill in the whole game can be spared. Now that's
thematic inconsistency. It's like an insult to the player by giving them a power they should have possessed all along when it no longer matters. To top this off if you choose the non-lethal option and spare his life your accomplice shoots him in the head anyway, your choice as a player matters so little to the game that not only are you not granted the power not to do something (take a life) that when you are, it is a false choice, it is an illusion of an illusion. Its tempting to call that a meta-mirage or something but I think bullshit is more concise and accurate.
|Why Ubisoft, Why?!|
Well I'm glad I didn't take all those screenshots for nothing. Bring back Clint Hocking please, Sam Fisher misses him.