Three years after the events of Splinter Cell: Double Agent, Sam Fisher is on the run and investigates his daughter's death. Starting in Malta, some leads point him to a thug named Andriy Kobin. Before he can get the answers he needs, he's captured, prompting him to escape and link up with old friend Victor Coste. His search for answers takes him down a path he had thought he would never take, uncovers truths he thought impossible and has him racing to foil a far-reaching conspiracy.
A further departure from the series' trademark stealthy tone and gameplay, Conviction was well-received despite some fan controversy, and was even named Game of the Year by the Machine AWARDS, although its sales fell below all previous entries in the series (not being available outside the Xbox 360 and PC didn't help).
Followed by Splinter Cell: Blacklist.
This game provides examples of the following tropes:
- Actionized Sequel: Due to the emphasis of the "Mark & Execute" feature, and the reduction/removal of features used to distract and incapacitate rather than kill.
- A.K.A.-47: Averted. All of the guns are called by their Real Life names. The only one that isn't is highly fictionalized.
- Ascended Extra: Anna "Grim" Grímsdóttir goes from being a Voice with an Internet Connection to a main character here, though she still keeps some of her old role.
- Author Appeal: The game has this, though unusually for such a trope, the effect is not so much on story or themes so much as on gameplay. The project's (eventual) creative director Maxime Béland thought that the kind of slow-paced, careful observation and timing that were used in games like Metal Gear Solid 4 and the previous Splinter Cell titles was boring, equating such movement speed to being like that of a "grandma". The "Mark & Execute" feature is something that he carried over from his previous project, Rainbow Six: Vegas, which he admits in interviews is simply a gameplay device and has no in-universe justification for why its mechanics work the way they do. The grayscale tones that the world adopts when Sam goes into hiding were inspired by his hobby of black and white photography.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Completely averted — "bosses" (read: interrogation targets) may shoot at you but don't have better perception than the mooks, and they're subdued just as easily.
- Awesome, but Impractical: A large amount of the game's array of guns falls under this, due to this being ostensibly a Stealth-Based Game. The Desert Eagle stands out, while being powerful, has poor accuracy, a small magazine, and is very loud.
- Bad Boss: Tom Reed shoots a pilot for wanting gas money. This is a man who is running a national conspiracy which doubtless requires of hundreds of thousands of dollars at least."Fuel isn't free, man!" *bang bang*
- Berserk Button: Near the end of the second act,Sam learns that his friend, Lambert, faked Sarah's death to stop a mole from using her as leverage against Sam. When Sam learns the truth he becomes so enraged that he gains the ability to instantly execute any enemies unfortunate enough to enter his line of sight.
- Blatant Item Placement: The "Weapons Stashes", which include every weapon you've picked up or bought, complete with refills. In the traditional sense, Conviction also averts it; Sam now gets unlimited pistol magazines, and enemies have a certain range of weapons depending on the mission. Only a few of the later missions have a Weapon Stash at the beginning of the mission (Diwaniya, Iraq and Washington Monument have none), so all long guns would have to be taken from enemies until reaching one.
- Blatant Lies: When Archer (one of the co-op characters) grabs an enemy soldier, the last thing anyone ever says to them is "Keep quiet, and I promise I won't hurt you."
- Bloodier and Gorier: Conviction has some brutal interrogation scenes, some of which are important to the plot.
- Bond One-Liner: Sam starts using these in this game, to let the player know the area's clear, as well as randomly after dropping down on enemies or grabbing them from behind. 'That never gets old' indeed.
- Broad Strokes: The game makes references to one exclusive element from each version of Double Agent - Sam shooting Lambert in New York City (from Version One, as opposed to Sam enhancing/compromising Lambert's cover as an arms dealer in Version Two) and Sarah Fisher dying in 2008 (from Version Two, as opposed to 2007 in Version One). This of course disqualifies either version from being completely canon and creates a degree of irreconcilability, as no mention is made of other choices the player had to make (such as whether or not to blow up the cruise ship in Cozumel and killing or sparing Hisham in Kinshasa).
- Bullying a Dragon: Random mooks will often taunt Fisher, despite knowing full well that he's one of the most lethal men alive. Word of God justifies this by suggesting that the mooks are scared out of their minds and overcompensating.
- But Thou Must!: The game has perhaps the biggest amount of segments that are impossible to get through without killing enemies (or at least knocking them out with a throw). For example, the first portion of the tutorial requires that the player kill two thugs. Sneaking by the thugs is possible, but doing so causes the camera to turn around as an objective projection reminds the player to kill them.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: No appearance or mention is made of William Redding and Lawrence Williams in Conviction despite their heavy involvement in Essentials. The same goes for Charlie Fryman, who is Demoted to Extra here, but is never heard from again.
- Combat Pragmatist: Sam. Archer and Kestrel also fulfill this in the prologue.
- Evil Gloating: In the end of the White House mission, Reed gloats to Fisher about his master plan. Reed does so long enough for Fisher to "mark" all of the enemies, as well as grab Reed when he gets close enough to him, allowing Grim and Sam to kill all the rogue Splinter Cells.
- Expy: Victor Coste in is an expy of Victor Sullivan from Uncharted. His backstory is also extremely reminiscent of Douglas Shetland's from Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory, he is a private security contractor who was once an enlisted sailor serving with Sam; both Shetland and Coste were also personally involved in rescue missions involving Sam. Essentials has a mission where you play as Sam rescuing Shetland from FARC guerrillas in Colombia in 1992 and Conviction has a mission where you play as Coste rescuing his commanding officer, Sam, from Republican Guard soldiers in Iraq in 1991.
- Eyepatch of Power: Archer and Kestrel are rendered in the loading screen with sonar goggles covering only one eye. The same goes for the enemy Splinter Cells.
- Flash Forward: Several times to the White House and being held at gunpoint by Grim.
- From Bad to Worse: During the course of the co-op campaign, 3rd Echelon agent Archer and Voron agent Kestrel were tasked to recover and/or destroy weapons of mass destruction that are owned by rogue elements of the Russian military. While Archer and Kestrel did their job, 3rd Echelon Director Tom Reed had the pair steal a payload of EMP weapons in order to set up the main plot of the game. Too bad these two agents did not know what was coming, since Reed tried to have Archer kill Kestrel while having an insurance policy of having Andriy Kobin kill whoever survived the duel.
- Gameplay and Story Integration: In co-op mode, players can Execute enemies that their allies have Marked or share in Executions, with both of them killing a different enemy at the same time. In the last level of the single player campaign, Grim holds Sam at gunpoint to get close to Reed and prevent him from killing President Caldwell. Once you reach the Oval Office, you have to Mark all of the enemy Splinter Cells in the room; in the following cutscene, Grim kills half of them, Execution-style, while Sam kills the other half in the same way, much like a co-op Execution.
- Good Guns, Bad Guns: Inverted; only enemies in the first two levels drop Skorpions and Desert Eagles, and only in Diwaniya, Iraq and co-op are AKs dropped; in all other missions the enemies are using "Western" guns. Justified, since all other missions take place exclusively on US soil.
- Interrogation Flashback: The game starts as a flashback of Victor Coste while being interrogated by armed Black Arrow contractors.
- Mugging the Monster: Two punks make the mistake of breaking into Sam's home, ransacking it, and making cryptic comments about his wife. It's the last mistake they ever make.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The co-op prologue campaign plays largely on this trope. Throughout the game's story, the protagonist agents, Archer and Kestrel were originally tasked with destroying and/or recovering weapons of mass destruction that were in possession by rogue elements of the Russian military. Unknown to those agents, 3rd Echelon Director Tom Reed was pulling strings behind the scenes to have the two agents steal the EMP weapons for themselves to help set up the main plot of Conviction. In a last-ditch effort to cover his tracks, Reed orders Archer to kill Kestrel, while secretly having 3rd Echelon asset Andriy Kobin kill the agent (later retconned to be sent into a coma) that survived their duel.
- Papa Wolf: Sam rips through anyone who stands in the way of him reuniting with Sarah. Notably, he's positively chilling in response to Kobin calling her a "fucking whore."Sam: (Holding Kobin by the throat, after having killed or disabled all of his men.) Andrei Kobin. Were you saying something about my daughter?Kobin: Oh, God no...
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: President Patricia Caldwell is transparently an Expy of Hillary Clinton. With Meryl Streep's face, no less.
- Ruder and Cruder: The game has much more casual swearing and stronger expletives than the previous games in the series, to the point where the amount of swearing from the enemies is a common mockery of the game.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: The Iraq level is played as a straight-up, Gears of War-esque shooter where you have no access to suppressed weapons and there are little to no stealth mechanics involved, let alone options for stealth. This is because you're not playing as Sam, but as another SEAL entirely - Victor Coste.