The brand new Mark and Execute maneuver certainly helps in that regard. Stealthily take out someone using your bare hands, and you’ll land you a couple “free*” kills. Here, you can mark your multiple targets from behind cover, then - *pip-pip* - execute numerous enemies with the touch of a single button.
Above: Mark and Execute mutiple fools in less than a second
*Hardened Clancy-philes may consider this “dumbed down,” but trust me, that shit is earned! This is no free kill. It’s not exactly easy to take a guy out up close, and pulling off the perfect Execution requires a keen sense of timing, since even the haphazard squeeze of a silenced trigger will alert everyone in the vicinity.
Above: Interrogations follow a x3 beat that gets old after a while
It feels like Splinter Cell: Conviction desperately wanted to break free from its mold to become more focused on gunplay. But it doesn't, really. Outside of a level that flashes back to the first (best?) Gulf War, squeezing the trigger and emptying a clip is pretty much a liability that’ll instantly remind you that THIS IS NOT A SHOOTER.
THREE THINGS: This is Splinter Cell: Conviction. This is Iraq twenty years ago. And that is NOT Sam Fisher
Splinter Cell has always been - and very much still is - about being patient. You’ll certainly spend a lot less times cooling your heels under the cover of darkness, but that’s still very much the basis of the gameplay. Enemy behavior and overall presentation are still a marvel to behold. But Conviction couldn’t shake something that’s plagued the rest of the series in many players' eyes, and that’s the overwhelming feeling that when you survive, it’s based largely on luck, and not your own badassery.
As Fisher’s campaign goes on, many pieces of the environment that showcase any sort of uniqueness - like pipes, window ledges, and shootable lights - eventually just disappear… And the game reveals what it really is: wave after wave of being outnumbered by enemies in hallways with very little deviation.
The cover system may be one of the smartest we’ve seen in next-gen gaming, but the enemies are smarter. I’d easily wager most people will spend 3/4s of the single-player campaign loading and retrying after you’re repeatedly struck down by enemies that always cruelly outnumber you (Another series hallmark!)
We could take or leave other parts of the evolution, as well. The ghostly image that marks your Last Known Position actually does a disservice to the enemy AI by making them look like morons, and there’s something about using your own fragile body as a decoy that sort of defeats the purpose. And the slick cinematics found in the Interrogation scenes quickly reveal themselves to be unskippable cutscenes punctuated with violent quicktime events.