It's hard to put it into words, which is a rather big flaw for a review, but somehow Ubisoft has managed to make Splinter Cell Conviction both new and familiar at the same time. By making leading man Sam Fisher a broken mess who will do anything to seek justice, Conviction is more action oriented than previous games in the series, yet stealth and careful surveying of your environment is still absolutely essential. This is an evolution of the stealth genre, making it altogether more appealing to the masses without compromising that which made it so popular in the first place.
Without spoiling the entire plot, it's safe to say that Sam Fisher no longer works for top secret agency Third Echelon. He's going alone, on the hunt for some answers about who killed his daughter and in turn revenge. He's a man quite clearly on the edge, willing to go beyond protocol to get what he needs. He's not entirely without support, with some good friends standing by him, but he'll have to delve into the heart of the corporation to find the answers he seeks. All this essentially means you're on a man hunt, moving from informant to informant in an attempt to get closer and closer to the truth and stop a terrorist attack in the process.
Conviction is unquestionably still a stealth game, with Fisher spending much of the game skulking around in the shadows, in turn making the game completely monochrome for much of the time. When the screen turns grey you're hidden from enemies, and a useful on-screen display lets you know if you're in line of sight to a roaming guard. A white arrow indicates you could be seen, while red means you've been spotted and it's time to make a run for it. Although, as I'll explain later, being seen isn't always a bad thing.
A key weapon in your arsenal is being able to sneak up behind an oblivious enemy and take him out silently. Not only does this help your chances of making it through a level, but also grants you a Take Down, one of Sam's new moves. A Take Down lets you instantly kill any marked enemies, assuming they are within range of your selected weapon. Certain weapons provide you with more marks, but at the cost of distance, while all the mark and executes within a Take Down are used up even if you only tag a single enemy. You might feel like using a Take Down on one enemy is worth it, but it's often a bad idea in the long run.
All forms of kills that aren't weapon-based grant you a Take Down, meaning you can use the ability in a variety of ways. If three enemies are in a room and one is patrolling the outside corridor there's a very easy solution. Sneak up behind the single guy, take him out silently with a melee attack and then tag the three enemies inside the adjacent room. Wait until their markers appear red on your display and hit Y to instantly take them out. The room has been cleared and no one heard a thing – as long as you've used a silenced weapon.
Other situations are less straight forward, and the enemies are smart enough to make life harder than you might think. You often need to lure them to a different location to give yourself a better chance of taking them out. To do this you can use the game's other new system, Last Known Position. The last position you were before the enemy lost sight of you is marked by a see-through model of Fisher, and all nearby goons will actively head to that location to try and kill you. You can use this to manoeuvre enemies where you want them, as long as they don't think they're walking into a death-trap, in which case they'll refuse to move, forcing you to come to them.