A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
While Sam Fisher is out to avenge his daughter's murder, he takes the law into his own hands and kills hundreds of people throughout the course of the game. That said, these are not innocent civilians -- instead they're terrorists and other "bad guys." Still, the message isn't positive -- even though, ultimately, he is tapped to protect America from those who want to destroy the West.
Positive Role Models
Sam Fisher is one cool protagonist, but he isn't a good role model for kids. It's one thing if he resorts to violence to keep the world safe -- which is more or less the theme of past games -- but he has gone rogue in this game and has a personal vendetta (until later in the story).
Ease of Play
The Xbox 360 version we played was fairly easy to pick up and play (ducking for cover, running, shooting, climbing, etc.) but some advanced controls -- such as tagging enemies before shooting them -- took a bit of practice to master.
Violence & Scariness
As with past Splinter Cell games, Conviction stars a one-man army who uses guns, bombs and his bare hands to kill enemies. With the latter, Sam Fisher can snap a victim's neck or smash their head into a mirror, table or wall to "interrogate" them. Blood can be seen on enemies, especially when shot, plus you can see their bloodied head after beating them for information. The ESRB is accurate in its warning about "intense" violence.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There is no nudity in the game but you can see exotic dancers in a nightclub sway their bodies seductively (wearing bras and panties) for tough-looking men. The game also has some dialogue that references sex and prostitution, such as "paying for an hour with an American girl."
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Gamers will hear plenty of profanity -- even from the very beginning of the game. Harsh words include "f--k," "motherf--ker," "c--ksucker," "sh-t" and "asshole." In some instances the language is spoken by Sam Fisher while other times it's from characters you meet in the game.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some characters make passing reference to drugs and drug dealing.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction is rated Mature because it contains plenty of violence and other themes not suitable for kids or young teens, including profanity, sexuality and drugs. Violence includes shooting enemies in a realistic fashion (and with realistic visuals), seeing blood spray out of enemies (though it's never over-the-top), and using your bare hands to inflict damage, whether it's pulling an enemy out of a window, smashing their head into objects to make them talk, or sneaking up behind an enemy to twist his neck. Parents should also note that this game facilitates open communication between players in online play. Common Sense Media does not recommend open online play for children under 12 years of age.
Is It Any Good?
Yes -- for adult gamers. Fisher has acquired some new "Mature"-rated tricks, such as the power of persuasion, which lets players "interrogate" suspects and other thugs by slamming their head into tables, walls, toilet bowls or windows. Players can even complete side challenges for being creative in their interrogation techniques. Fisher can also tag enemies in the "mark and execute" feature, which allows him to take out multiple enemies at the tap of a button.
It would be remiss not to mention the outstanding production values in this third-person adventure, including the cinematic way it introduces mission objectives and Sam's thoughts by splashing words and images onto the environment itself. Some of the documentary-style "shaky" camera angle effects might bother some, though. Toss in multiplayer play, including a thrilling co-op mode with its own unique story, and it's easy to see why Splinter Cell: Conviction will likely be the must-play action game of the season.
Online interaction: The game offers many multiplayer modes including a much-hyped co-op mode. Gamers can talk over Xbox Live while playing so it's possible for players to hear profanity from other players (though we didn't hear any), exchange personal information, and be exposed to abuse.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.