So this blog post is mainly an attempt at me ranting and trying to think critically about games. However, I'm fairly new at this, so feel free to comment on me falling on my face at this.
With the announcement of Splinter Cell Conviction, I was pretty excited. Sam Fisher could be refreshed from the stale character he had fallen into, and the developers could take the character into new exciting territory. However, instead of seeing a logical course of character progression in this new light, I got a cold, murderous Sam Fisher who didnít fit my understanding of the character.
Now, itís been sometime since I last played the previous iterations of Splinter Cell, but I always had the idea that killing for Sam was always a last regrettable option. There seems to be no dialog hints that this is an enjoyable aspect of Samís vocation. In fact, Sam always seemed to be silent on the matter. If not seen through the dialog, I think itís enforced through the gameplay.
Throughout the Splinter Cell series, the focus has been on avoiding detection, and using your gun as a last resort. This type of gameplay implies that killing is a more destructive action, and only necessary in extreme situations. This is further pushed in Chaos Theory when the scores given at the end of the level are higher if death is avoided. Haha, you can't see me. Now follow your patrol pattern so I can get down from here.
The ambiguous narrative, and the reward for stealth together seem to create a character that avoids death and enforces violence only when necessary. However, Conviction paints a very different picture.
In terms of dialogue to help clarify Samís disposition, there are very few differences in previous Splinter Cell iterations and this one. Sam still provides relatively indifferent responses. The most extreme being, ďwell, that was interesting.Ē So, no real change there.
However, in terms of gameplay, the game has seemed to shift from avoid detection and kill if necessary, to shoot everyone from the shadows. I canít stress this shift enough and it turns Sam into a rather cold murderer with little regard for others, and itís this that is probably the biggest redesign seen in this latest sequel. Where all four previous games had been based on the principle that stealth was for avoidance, Convictionís philosophy seems to be stealth for more effective combat.
Death for all!
Now, the story would seem to argue that the loss of his daughter has forced Sam to go to the extreme, and no one can get in his way, but this character arc seems hard to believe when Sam is breaking the necks of weekend army reserve members; people who probably have children of their own. Thereís been such a drastic character progression; it feels unlikely that Sam would suddenly start killing those hardly responsible for his Daughterís plight.
So, this is all for me to say that I feel that the direction the developers took Sam didnít really work for me. But, then again, most people donít play Splinter Cell for the character of Sam Fisher, thatís Metal Gear Solidís job.
PS. This all said, it could be that, because of Samís relative silence in previous games, I had just forced my own character on him, and that coupled with the evasion style gameplay of the previous games I had created this cautious killer, and Iím now just taken back by how the developers didnít have the exact same thing in mind.
LOOK WHO CAME: