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Sam Fisher has gone from shadow warrior to wrecking ball. Splinter Cell fans may remember the series as somewhat sneaky – a matter of waiting for the right moment to knife someone in the back and plonk their body in a darkened stairwell. Conviction asks, why wait? This time around, grizzled secret agent Sam Fisher is on the warpath, plowing through anyone who stands between him and finding his daughter’s killer. He doesn’t care about setting off alarms – in fact, he wants them to know he’s coming.
The result is a game which is way faster and louder than any Splinter Cell we’ve played before. If anything, this feels more like Batman: Arkham Asylum than Sam Fisher’s previous outings, as we run rings around terrified heavily-armed goons, darting in and out of the dark to crunch spines and pop skulls. The section we play, which is lifted from the middle of the game, takes us around 15 minutes to obliterate two-dozen alerted, angry paramilitaries – something which might have taken several hours of cautious, shadowy skulking in earlier games.
The section opens in a deserted back alley. It’s night, and Washington’s lights twinkle in the distance as we slink from car to car. There’s a new, context-sensitive cover system that allows you to automatically swoop from one hiding spot to the next. We use it to snake right up behind one of several chatting guards – members of the Black Arrow paramilitary outfit who are hoping to set off an electro-magnetic pulse bomb hidden in the warehouse behind.
We don’t need to mess around taking them out one-by-one of course – this new Sam is all action. First we put the crosshair over three guards and mark them. Then we leap up and grab the poor fool in front of us, using his body as a human shield. The reward for a melee takedown of this kind is access to Sam’s super-spy skills. Activating them sees him whip out his pistol and put a bullet in the brain of each goon before they react.