Splinter Cell: Conviction Co-Op Hands-On PreviewBy Brian Leahy - Posted Dec 18, 2009
Splinter Cell: Conviction Co-Op Trailer
Just as Splinter Cell: Conviction will serve as a gameplay reboot for Sam Fisher's continuing story, the multiplayer component of Conviction isn't quite what you might expect based on previous entries in the franchise. Instead of the familiar Spies vs. Mercenaries mode with some co-op missions thrown in as an afterthought, Conviction's offering is almost entirely co-operative, with only one game mode being adversarial (and caps out at 2 players). But the multiplayer team at Ubisoft Montreal is doing a bit more than what you might think.
Players will be able to play through 4 game modes on 6 maps labeled as "Deniable Ops": Hunter, Last Stand, Infiltration, and Face-Off. The first three can even be played solo. Hunter is basically like Rainbow Six: Vegas' Terrorist Hunt: move through the map eliminating the enemy threat. Infiltration takes the same concept, but adds the following caveat: get spotted and it's game over. Last Stand asks players to defend a target from oncoming waves of enemies. Finally, Face-Off, the game's only adversarial gametype, pits two agents against each other, but throws AI-controlled enemies that are hostile to both players into the mix. Across all of these modes, players will gain points in the Persistent Elite Creation System and can unlock weapon upgrades and more. (Unfortunately, they weren’t willing to divulge any further details on how this works.)
Ubisoft Montreal isn't stopping there. The multiplayer team is creating a 5 to 6 hour co-operative campaign that serves as the prologue for Conviction’s main story. It takes place across four maps in the former Soviet Union and introduces two new playable agents: Archer, a CIA operative in Sam's old unit, and Kestral, a Russian spook brought in to help. Both fully-voiced characters are tasked with recovering four stolen EMP warheads. In the beginning, the two agents are reluctant to work with each other and are even hostile at times.
For an in-depth interview on these modes, please watch the following interview with, Patrick Redding, game director for multiplayer and co-op for Splinter Cell: Conviction:
All of the bells and whistles from Conviction's updated gameplay are locked and loaded for this co-op mode, including the mark & execute system, objective projection, and last-known location. Since you'll be infiltrating with a friend, you'll also be able to share marked targets with your ally and even initiate synchronized executions. It's a truly beautiful system that rewards careful planning and communication. To check all of this out, I was shown and then played a small chunk of the co-op campaign's third mission, which put me and an Ubisoft employee in a Cold War-era base deep under Moscow, looking for intel that could lead to the stolen weapons.
A quick tutorial on the controls and we were off, rushing forward to breach a chunk of wall with some C4 and dropping into an old subway station connected to the base. The explosion, as you might guess, brings around six guards into the room. It's dark, but their flashlights flick on and they begin searching the room for intruders. My ally and I split right and left and begin marking targets. We mark all six guards between us, but we don't have the ability to execute them just yet. To do so, one of us will have to perform a stealth kill.
We formulate our plan: My buddy will sneak up on someone and go for the takedown, which brings up the execute ability. During that time, I'll be tasked with dropping down from my perch, shooting a stray guard, and positioning myself for the execution. It sounds complicated, but we were able to pull it off with amazing accuracy. In the span of about 3 seconds, we had killed all six guards without being seen. The word "satisfying" doesn't begin to do the moment justice. While I was reveling in the badassery that just transpired, more guards flooded the room. One of them managed to grab my buddy and hold him hostage, much like Sam Fisher would.
Enter a new co-op mechanic. With my ally in a chokehold, I've got a limited amount of time to kill his captor. If I had the execute ability available, I could mark the target and pop him with the press of a button. But I don't. Thankfully, the person being choked can perform a quick dodge, throwing an elbow into the captor and ducking, clearing the way for a kill shot for a brief moment. Again, using some communication, we plan out a quick "1-2-3-NOW!" and the situation is resolved with a few bullets to the guard's chest. Oh, by the way, during all of this I was hanging unseen from a pipe running along the room's ceiling. Badass!
A few more rooms cleared and we're almost at the enemy officer we've been tasked with interrogating. As we move through the room I get a bit overzealous trying to get a stealth kill and end up taking one too many bullets. In this situation, instead of dying outright, you'll drop to the ground and play dead while bleeding out. Your partner has a limited amount of time to get to you and revive you, but you can sit up at any time and whip out your pistol. It's a lot of fun suddenly popping up and shooting a few enemies while your buddy makes his way to you.
Finally, we find the enemy officer and I grab him. His office is full of convenient objects, ripe for "interrogation." I walk him over to the paper shredder on his desk and press his cheek into the blades. Blood sprays everywhere as he screams in pain. My character explains that we would love access to the next room, which is beyond a retinal scanner. I pick the officer back up and bring him over to a safe, slamming his head into it at an unhealthy velocity. He kindly offers to help us out. I take him hostage and start walking him out to the scanner, but backup is on the way. My buddy starts marking targets as I stick to the shadows and try to stay out of sight. We carefully dispatch the enemies and clear the room.
I take the officer to the scanner and hold his face to it, but he catches me off guard and reverses the situation, taking me hostage and pulling a gun on my head in a scripted sequence. My partner turns around and sizes up the situation... and the demo fades out to the sound of frenzied gunshots. A title card comes up taunting me: Splinter Cell: Conviction - February 2010.
Not only was I extremely impressed with my short time playing the co-operative campaign of Splinter Cell: Conviction, I am very excited about the focus on co-op for multiplayer. I was never a huge fan of the previous game's multiplayer modes, but I'm happy to be able to share the experience of surprising and killing AI opponents. I also think the Face-Off mode could work well with only two players and enemy AI to fill it in. Furthermore, the game's mechanics are solid and should create a great experience in both Sam Fisher's story and the co-op modes. Put this one on your watch list for early 2010.