Real Talk by: D.
Sam Fisher returns in the long-awaited Splinter Cell: Conviction, the next entry in Ubisoft’s critically acclaimed Splinter Cell franchise. Fisher’s return follows him on the hunt for his daughter’s killer after finding out her death was no accident. The restraints are off, and Sam holds nothing back this time around. Players finally get their first chance to experience the new Fisher for the first time with the release of the Splinter Cell: Conviction demo on Xbox Live.
The short demo consists of two distinct levels: an interrogation scene that takes place at the beginning of the game, and a level from later in the game that shows off a more traditional style of play.
The first level feels more like an interactive cut scene than an actually level. Taking place in an old degraded bathroom, the player controls Sam as he interrogates a man who has apparently tried to kill him. Using the left stick, you move the subject around the room, with the option to press B to ‘interrogate’ Sam’s target. This action results in Sam slamming the subject against a bathroom stall, toilet, or mirror and sink, depending on where the subject is as the time. It’s during this that the player gets his/her first glimpse at the new projection system, which (as the name implies) projects elements of the story and objectives to the screen in black and white.
The next level tasks you with infiltration a building where a female scientist and an EMP bomb are being held. This level serves as a tutorial to familiarize the player with Sam’s tools and abilities (It is important to note, that because this level is from later in the game, it likely won’t serve as the tutorial level and the final game, meaning the level in the demo is not representative of its final form). The first thing you’ll notice when starting the level is that the controls have been completely reworked, allowing for more fluidity of control over Sam’s movements and actions.
Sam’s movements can be controlled by the use of three main buttons. The Left Bumper allows the player to switch Sam’s stance, while the Left Trigger and A button control a series of context sensitive actions. Holding down the left trigger while near certain objects allows the player to take cover, while holding it down while hanging from an object allows same to drop down and take down a target. Pressing the A button does a variety of the things based on context and where the player is looking. Actions include anything from moving from cover to cover, hopping over objects, climbing pipes, and opening and looking under doors. While this control style feels very different than that of prior games, it makes sneaky around a tad bit easier.
Here’s a quick run through of some of the new controls:
- Pressing the Left Trigger allows Sam to take cover behind objects.
- Pressing A allows Sam to swiftly move from one point of cover to another.
- Pressing B allows Sam to preform a hand-to-hand kill.
- Targets can be marked using the Left Bumper.
- Pressing Y after marking targets causes Sam to execute all marked targets in sight in cinematic fashion. One only has the option to execute marked targets after first performing a hand-to-hand kill.
Unlike prior games in the franchise, Sam no longer has the ability to choose between knocking out or killing his enemies. It’s kill or be killed. While this new approach may not sit well with Splinter Cell veterans, it does a good job of representing Sam’s desperation and state-of-mind. However, you can always avoid enemies if you don’t feel like taking them out. While the game still allows, and leans toward a stealthy approach, the balance between stealth and action is really up to you. Going all out and shooting every enemy instead of sneaking around does not necessarily result in instant death, although it may prove more difficult. Aiming feels a tad bit easier than it did in prior games. The marking system serves a good way of rewarding players who survey each situation first, and makes taking out enemies much easier. The marking system allows the player to mark up to 3 enemies and execute them with the press of a button. The balance to this system is that the player is only given the option to execute after first preforming a hand-to hand kill. This system gives the player entirely new ways to play. Each situation has multiple ways in which you can handle them, and the choice is yours.
Sam has several gadgets and techniques to aid him in completing each mission. Back is the sticky cam, which allows Sam to look under doors and around corners. Sticky cams can be used to assess the situation before you make your move and can be exploded or used to play sounds as a distraction to enemies. Sticky cams can also be useful in marking enemies in a room, making them easier to take out. Other gadgets include your standard set of grenades and a portable EMP, which can be used to temporarily disable the lights in an area so Sam can sneak around undetected. Sam can also employ the use of sonar goggles that allow Sam to see the enemies in the area, even through walls and obstacles, allowing them to easily be marked for execution.
A lot of the usual techniques from prior Splinter Cell titles remain intact, and while at first it may not feel like Splinter Cell at first, don’t worry. Sam Fisher is still a stealthy, badass(and proficient pipe-climber). Conviction appears to give the player multiple ways to handle each situation. The warehouse featured in demo had multiple points of entry and it was possible to make it through the entire demo undetected, but I found that a more action heavy approach proved possible as well. Some of the new mechanics seem like they may take a while to get use to, but they only seem to add to the experience. Although marking and executing enemies make you feel more like Jack Bauer or Jason Bourne than Sam Fisher at times, stealth is still king(Gunning your way through every situation is admittedly more difficult, but no where near impossible). Sneaking around feels just as fluid as ever and there is no doubt the this is a stealth game at heart. While the outlook appears good, we’ll have wait to see how Sam’s new techniques and the reworked control scheme translate to the full game when it releases April 13th.
+ Fluid control system.
+ One word. Pretty.
+ “Projection” system. You’ll wonder why more games don’t choose to show the objectives this way.
+ Freedom to choose how you play.
- Is it really Splinter Cell? Only time will tell, but it’s hard to see how Splinter Cell veterans will act towards the changes.
- No multiplayer in the demo. It’s difficult to gauge how the new gameplay mechanics will translate into multiplayer.
We now have the review click below