Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction was more than just too many words in a title, it was also an incredibly well received game; a high point in an excellent series and a high benchmark for visual presentation and polish. Basically, it kicked all kinds of ass, scooped up a lot of "Game of the Year" nominations and robbed many a gamer of countless hours of their undivided attention.
Chances are that by now most of the first round of purchasers (you can be sure this will be back on a "platinum" label) will have finished most of the content on offer. The timing is perfect, then, to add some more. Thanks to the wonders of internet-enabled downloadable content, that is what we have here.
The Insurgency pack is a collection of new maps for the game's "Deniable Ops" mode, where players team up to square off against the AI in Hunter, Last Stand, and Face-Off modes. Hunter sets players up against a set number of enemies, with the goal of eliminating them without being spotted. If you get spotted, all your hard work is undone as more enemies pour into the area. Last Stand is all about protecting the objective from waves of enemies, making stealth less important but still a valuable tool in your kit of "stuff to take out bad guys with". Face-Off is the game's only competitive multiplayer mode, where players can actually kill each other.
The maps on offer, while there may only be four of them, are incredibly diverse and very well laid out for optimal Splinter Cell stealth action. While it may be true that there are now eight Deniable Ops maps, these new four are so good it's likely the first four will be populated only by tumbleweeds online.
The difficulty of the new maps starts off high (even in rookie mode) and only gets harder the more you ratchet it up. If you haven't already played the main game or the other Deniable Ops maps, you'd be well served to practice your skills there before tackling this new content.
The AI seems to be a little less intelligent and a little more artificial here than in the main game. While enemies will - normally - spot obviously bad things (like lights going out or strange goings on) they will sometimes completely miss the fact that their buddy is lying in a pool of blood at their feet or just generally fail to spot you when they otherwise would. It's not outlandishly bad, but you will occasionally notice weirdness that wasn't apparent in the game proper.
Visually it's also pretty much like the main game; that is, very good. The only real bug-bear is that, like the main game (but arguably even worse) the signature "everything is black & white when you are invisible to the enemy" graphical effect actually makes life quite a bit harder by making it far more difficult to actually see anything yourself. Again, not a biggie (well, not often a biggie, at least) but definitely more noticeable than in the full game.
Pricing is something of interest and worthy of some discussion. At 800 points the value proposition is something that is likely to vary quite a bit from player to player. For the casual, play-through once crowd, 800 points (about $15 or so) is at the upper echelon (see what I did there?) of value for money. For those that live and breathe online co-op, doubling the amount of content of arguably the best current co-op experience is an incredible deal.
If you like Splinter Cell: Conviction and want to get stuck into more action without any annoying narrative to get in the way, the Insurgency pack is likely just what you're looking for. Just don't expect quite the level of execution the original is deservedly acclaimed for.