Ranked: "Splinter Cell: Conviction" and Other Tom Clancy Games

  • Publish Date: April 13, 2010
  • Comments: ↓ 16 user comments

From Jack Ryan to Sam Fisher

Image He's operating under the radar; the game sure isn't

This week's major videogame release, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction, is the latest in a long line of games endorsed by Tom Clancy. Indeed, while an older generation probably knows him best as a best-selling author of spy and military fiction, and Baltimore residents may think of him as a co-owner of baseball's Orioles, the Tom Clancy name is most closely associated these days with the world of videogames.

In the 1980s, Clancy first became a household name behind strong sales for books revolving around CIA analyst Jack Ryan. Several of these titles also became movies, including the Alec Baldwin-starring The Hunt for Red October 58 and Clear and Present Danger 74 with Harrison Ford, further boosting the author's name recognition.

After conquering the worlds of publishing and film, Clancy moved into gaming in the mid-1990s, establishing the developer Red Storm Entertainment, which, among other titles, began churning out games based on Clancy properties. The developer was so successful that it was eventually acquired by publisher Ubisoft. Over the past 15 years, the Tom Clancy brand has appeared on over three dozen game titles, including the ongoing Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, and Splinter Cell series, although Clancy's actual involvement in many of the releases is minimal.

The latter series -- all stealth action titles -- gets its newest chapter this week with Conviction for the Xbox 360 (a PC version also arrives in two weeks). The first new Splinter Cell game in four years, Conviction finds protagonist Sam Fisher, formerly an elite government anti-terrorism agent, striking out on his own in search of his daughter's murderer. Reviews are generally strong, with a lot of praise for the gameplay, though several critics feel that the new game is far too short.

Here's a better look at how the new game matches up to the previous installment in the Splinter Cell series:

Comparing Reviews: Splinter Cell: Conviction vs. Splinter Cell: Double Agent
Splinter Cell: Double Agent   Splinter Cell: Conviction
Xbox 360 (2006) Platform and Year Xbox 360 (2010)
85 Metascore 87
8.7 User Score 7.9
25 "Great" Critic Reviews 17
30 "Good" Critic Reviews 16
4 "Mixed" Critic Reviews 0
0 "Bad" Critic Reviews 0

All data is from April 13, 2010. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). User Scores represent an average of scores assigned by Metacritic.com site visitors on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good). "Great" reviews have an individual grade of 90 or higher; "good" reviews have grades between 75 and 89; "mixed" represents grades between 50 and 74, and "bad" reviews have grades of 49 or lower.

Where does "Splinter Cell: Conviction" fit in?

How does the newest Tom Clancy title compare to all previous releases? Let's look at the highs and lows of the Clancy game franchise. Based on the 30+ reviews collected so far, Splinter Cell: Conviction narrowly missed cracking the all-time top 10, placing 11th.

The 10 Best-Reviewed Tom Clancy Games
  Game Platform Year Developer Metascore
1Splinter Cell Chaos Theory Xbox2005Ubisoft Montreal94
2Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow Xbox2004Ubisoft Montreal93
3Splinter Cell Xbox2002Ubisoft Montreal93
4Splinter Cell Chaos Theory PC 2005Ubisoft Montreal92
5Splinter Cell PC 2003Ubisoft Montreal91
6Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter360 2006Ubisoft90
7Splinter Cell PS2 2003Ubisoft Montreal89
8Splinter Cell Double Agent Xbox2006Ubisoft Montreal/Shanghai/France89
9Splinter Cell GameCube2003Ubisoft Montreal 89
10Rainbow Six Vegas360 2006Ubisoft Montreal88

Not every Tom Clancy game is a winner. The average Metascore for all 78 individual titles in our database is 75.8, which indicates positive reviews -- but just barely. In fact, 29 of the 78 (37%) Tom Clancy releases received mediocre reviews, with a Metascore between 50 and 74. And two releases received even lower scores. Here are the worst of the bunch:

The 10 Worst-Reviewed Tom Clancy Games
  Game Platform Year Developer Metascore
1 The Sum of All Fears GameCube2003Red Storm Entertainment36
2Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter PS22006Ubisoft44
3Splinter Cell Chaos Theory DS 2005Ubisoft50
4Rainbow Six Critical Hour Xbox2006Ubisoft Quebec Studio54
5Ghost Recon 2 GameCube2005Red Storm Entertainment54
6Splinter Cell Essentials PSP 2006Ubisoft Montreal58
7Ghost Recon 2 PS22004Ubisoft Shanghai58
8Ghost Recon GameCube2003Red Storm Entertainment59
9Rainbow Six: Lockdown PC2006Red Storm Entertainment59
10 Rainbow Six Vegas PSP 2007Ubisoft Quebec City60

In the two tables above, games are ranked by Metascore prior to rounding. All Tom Clancy games in Metacritic's database with at least 7 reviews were eligible, although expansion packs were excluded.

Finally, here are the top-scoring titles by platform. As you can see, anyone hoping for a good portable Tom Clancy game will have to wait a bit longer.
Best-Reviewed Tom Clancy Titles by Platform
Platform Game Year Metascore Users
Game Boy Advance Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 2003 77 9.7
GameCube Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 2003 89 9.0
N-Gage Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory 2005 85 7.6
Nintendo DS Tom Clancy's EndWar 2008 69 n/a
PC Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory 2005 92 7.9
Playstation 2 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 2003 89 7.5
Playstation 3 Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2007 86 7.9
Sony PSP Tom Clancy's EndWar 2008 68 5.5
Wii Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent 2006 61 8.2
Xbox Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory 2005 94 9.3
Xbox 360 Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2006 90 8.1

Commercial success

Through the end of 2008, the entire Tom Clancy game franchise had sold more than 55 million units worldwide, a number that will grow considerably this year with the release of two major titles (Splinter Cell: Conviction and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier) and one that puts the Clancy games in the same ballpark as popular series like Call of Duty and Gran Turismo. Here are the best-selling individual releases in the series:

The Best-Selling Tom Clancy Games
  Game Platform Year Metascore Units Sold (Millions)
1 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Xbox 2002 93 2.91
2 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell PS2 2003 89 2.44
3 Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 360 2008 82 2.30
4 Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 360 2006 90 2.26
5 Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 360 2006 88 1.96
6 Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Xbox 2002 84 1.69
7 Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon PS2 2002 63 1.68
8 Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Playstation 1999 n/a 1.64
9 Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 Xbox 2003 86 1.58
10 Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Adv. Warfighter 2 360 2007 86 1.44

Source of sales data: VGChartz.com

Next, let's take a further look at each individual series in the Tom Clancy franchise.

Splinter Cell series

The Splinter Cell games fall into the "stealth action" genre, centering on government agent Sam Fisher, a member of the NSA's black-ops division known as the Third Echelon. While all three of the early games in the series received strong reviews, most critics feel that the third installment, Chaos Theory, is the best in the entire series (especially that game's Xbox version).

The series as a whole has drawn more critical acclaim than any Clancy game series. The average Metascore for all console releases in the Splinter Cell series is 84; the next-best series is Rainbow Six, averaging just 76.

All Releases in the Splinter Cell Series
Splinter Cell  2002 93 89 89 91 77 74
Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow  2004 93 87 78 87 68
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory  2005 94 87 81 92 50 85
Splinter Cell: Essentials  2006 58
Splinter Cell: Double Agent  2006 85 89 78 84 61 64 80
Splinter Cell: Conviction  2010 87 *

* A PC version of Splinter Cell: Conviction will be released on April 27.
Years listed are the year of first release for each title. Some versions of each title may have been released in different years.

Rainbow Six series

The oldest of the three main Tom Clancy game franchises, the Rainbow Six titles are based on Clancy's 1998 novel of the same name. Games in this series are tactical first-person shooters, centering on an international anti-terrorism unit based in England. The more recent titles in the series did away with some of the tactical elements found in earlier Rainbow Six games to the disappointment of some fans, but critics seemed to like the changes: Rainbow Six: Vegas is the highest-scoring release in the series.

All Releases in the Rainbow Six Series
Rainbow Six * 1998 * 85
Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear  ** 1999 75 ** 76
Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield *** 2003     83
Rainbow Six 3 *** 2003 86 70 68
Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow 2004 84
Rainbow Six: Lockdown 2005 74 70 72 59
Rainbow Six: Critical Hour 2006 54
Rainbow Six: Vegas 2006 88 86 85 60
Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 2008 82 81 78

* Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six was also released for Playstation, Game Boy, Dreamcast, and Nintendo 64, but those releases are not available in Metacritic's database.
** Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear was also released for PC and Playstation, but those releases are not available in Metacritic's database.
** Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 is basically the console version of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield, but the games are different enough in story and gameplay to merit listing them as separate titles.

Ghost Recon series

Another series of tactical shooters, the Ghost Recon games focus on an Army Special Forces squad who are deployed on top-secret missions around the globe. 2006's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter impressed critics more than any other release in the series -- at least for the Xbox 360 version. The next installment, Future Soldier, is likely to surface late this year.

All Releases in the Ghost Recon Series
Ghost Recon  2001 84 63 59 80
Ghost Recon: Desert Siege  2002 82
Ghost Recon: Island Thunder  2003 81 82
Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm  2004 70 82
Ghost Recon 2  2004 80 58 54
Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike  2005 84
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter  2006 90 66 44 80
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2  2007 86 84 76 61
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier  2010 * * * * * *

* Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier will be released later in 2010 for the listed platforms.

Other titles

A number of additional Tom Clancy game titles have been released over the past 23 years, typically based on Clancy's novels (though there are also a few original concepts, such as the air combat simulator H.A.W.X., and EndWar, set during a future World War III). These games typically have received poor-to-middling reviews.

There is very little truth to the rumor that Clancy's next game will be titled Tom Clancy's Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too 3: Chaos Theory.

Tom Clancy Games Not in a Series
The Hunt for Red October * 1987        
Red Storm Rising ** 1988        
The Hunt for Red October * 1990        
Tom Clancy's SSN 1996 n/a
Tom Clancy's Politika 1997       n/a
Tom Clancy's ruthless.com 1998 n/a
Shadow Watch 2000   n/a
The Sum of All Fears 2002 36 72 69
Tom Clancy's EndWar 2008 77 76 68 69 68
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2009 73 74 70

* There were two different games released under the name The Hunt for Red October. The 1987 version (for Atari, Amiga, Commodore 64, Macintosh, and IBM PC computers) was based on Clancy's book of the same name; the 1990 game (for various computers as well as NES and Game Boy) was based on the movie.
** Red Storm Rising was available for Commodore 64, Amiga, and Atari computers.

Your take

What is your favorite Tom Clancy-branded game? What do you think of the new Splinter Cell: Conviction? Is the series headed in a positive direction, or is it time to put it to bed? Let us know in the comments section below.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (16)

  • geoff  

    this is pretty comprehensive and a good read ... thanks!

  • David Clemons  

    Splinter Cell is my favorite video game series by far. I have enjoyed other Tom Clancy titles (Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon), but I always go back to Splinter Cell. I still happily put the first game into my console and play away. Splinter Cell Conviction was horrifying to me before it's release. I didn't want it to be different and I was afraid it would be messed up permanently. After viewing the videos released in '07, I had decided not to buy the game. Then the delay came. I saw the '09 E3 Demo and freaked. I'm not sure if it was a good or bad freak out, though. I was happy that shadows were back in, but it seemed so different. I played the demo released on March 18th and it relieved me a little bit, but I still had my concerns. I still pre-ordered the game and I put it in today. The marketing for this game sucked for true fans. They were worrying us all just to get more shooter gamers to buy the game. Even though Ubisoft said that players could stealth through the game, I didn't know if I believed them. I have played through about half of the game, and I have played it exactly the way I played the other Splinter Cell games. The Mark & Execute feature is nice, but I use it as a back up in case I screw up stealthing along, so it doesn't feel like a shooter at all. It just feels like a faster paced Splinter Cell game with more features. My only complaints are the sonar goggles, and the colors changing to black and white while Fisher is hidden. The sonar goggles are okay, but I feel like it was an excuse to keep goggles as a logo for the game because fans would have thrown a fit. The goggles make it too easy to see everything around you and it feels like a cheat or something. The black and white thing can be annoying because it is hard to see lights. Sometimes I just have to scan where I think the bulb is until the ridicule turns red because I can't see it. I also have a hard time seeing where the shadows are when the screen is black and white. I understand what they were going for, but it needs to be refined. I would really prefer a small color change to let you know you are hidden and night vision. Bring back the night vision!

    Overall, Conviction is a great game. Buy it, play it, enjoy it. This comes from a fan that has played every game (other than the first) the very day it came out. I'm as true as a fan can get.

  • Jerry Curlan  

    The original Xbox Splinter Cell will remains my favorite in the series. Perhaps it was the newness of the game, or how it set itself apart from the Metal Gear series. It just had a tremendous sense of style to it. It deserved the 93 Metascore.

  • TheVGamer  

    This is pretty good summary of all games,finally I see them compared.And I just love those little references and connections in Tom Clancy's games.

  • David Clemons  

    Not being able to move bodies or pick locks is a pain too. I knew I was missing a few. The first Splinter Cell has a special place in my heart. I consider it my first real video game. It was the first game I cared about finishing, and it was the one to make a serious gamer out of me. I played that game back to back until Pandora Tomorrow came out.

  • Joe Price  

    I hate it that these biased critics tend to have extremly high expectations for games and movies and give them a bad rating.

  • David Clemons  

    I agree with you. I also think all the people who rated it lower because of stealth being taken out were using the Mark & Execute way too much. Just because you can doesn't mean you have too. I just beat the game and I rarely used it.

  • Josh M  

    Conviction is trying to bring the game to a larger market I think it succeeded at it, it isn't as stealth heavy as the earlier games but isn't rambo either. You can play the game with as much stealth or as much action as you want...which makes me believe that it is a very solid game.

  • r1ckyr4y  

    Dude, Conviction is a fantastic game with a (and I know this is weird for a Splinter Cell game) GREAT story. People say its not stealthy enough, you just have to make it stealthy. I think its perfectly balanced. It may not be as stealthed out as the old SC games but its still a great experience.

  • Jason  

    Sadly i have been disappointed with the last installment of the game, Now hearing the solo campaign is much smaller just doesn't warrant a 70$ purchase. If Developers continue to make smaller story based games, they should make the price at least 50% lower than its retail regular. I would buy the new splinter cell if it was 39$, i don't use multi player anymore with games (To many racists or children nagging), So far my favorite Splinter Cell game is Chaos Theory. I just wish the Developers would go back to its roots again.

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