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TGS 09: Splinter Cell: Conviction First Hands-On Impressions

G4Sterling
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Posted September 25, 2009 - By G4Sterling




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TGS 09: Splinter Cell: Conviction First Hands-On Impressions

What We Know: Splinter Cell: Conviction epitomizes the term "reboot." Two years ago, it was launguishing as a dark, Assassin's Creed-like game in which Sam Fisher went rogue, grew out a beard and sat on park benches. Good thing that version's gone. It's been replaced with a sleeker-looking game that really updates the series from the Xbox era (Double Agent was good, but it still had the trappings of an Xbox game) to today's consoles and design philosophies.

Basically, the new Splinter Cell: Conviction rocked faces at E3.

What's New at TGS: Why Ubisoft picked a Japanese show to give first hands-on is beyond me. But I'm glad I got to finally play it. And although some of the Ubisoft Montreal team balked when I said "it feels like Splinter Cell," it's a compliment. I know it's revamped. You, the gamer, know it's revamped. But underneath some of the amazing tech (such as the drive-in movie style projections of clues and background information on walls) and some of the new features, the game will hand your ass to you if you waltz in carelessly.

I know this fact because mine got handed to me on a silver platter. The thing I noticed most about the game (which admittedly, still isn't finshed in some small aspects) is just how smart enemies are. Sure, during E3, Ubisoft's demo felt like watching a Bourne movie, but when you're in the role of stealthy badass government agent, you start to see how easily a pack of thugs can dispatch you. They chat with each other a lot, and they'll move in packs if there are enough of them. I was also told that by the time I reach the point in the game that was today's demo, I'll be well-versed in Conviction's combat style. I certainly hope so.

In the mission, Sam must rescue a scientist who is devising some sort of weapon for a terrorist group. Or something. The demo started with Sam parked outside a warehouse where the scientist is located. It's his job to interrogate a squad leader for the scientist's whereabouts. Does the squad leader cooperate? About as much as Rainbow Six: Vegas is a JRPG. However, it's a fine chance to show off some of the damage effects on human faces. With each face-first slam into a military jeep, a tree stump, or an air conditioning unit, the squad leader's face gets progressively bloodier and more gashed. Yet, he won't give up the info until his attempt to stab Sam ends with his arm twisted and his combat knife pinning his twisted hand into a tree stump. Looks like brutal interrogations will be part of the process.

You might've also noticed the quick kills that Sam can perform. The idea behind them seems to be killstreak-driven. In order to quickly dispatch of a few guards, you've got to effectively incapacitate at least one of them. Whether that's a stealth kill, taking him hostage, or popping a few into his skull, you need to take one down to start the takedown chain effectively. It's harder than it looks. Again, enemies are smart, and on more than one occasion, I was detected just as soon as I nabbed one of them. But once I got the flow of the "kill one, then mark the rest for a combo kill," I got a sense of how the system works. There are so many ways to initiate a streak, whether it's flashbang grenades or hanging from a ledge and taking down a guard.

What I Want to See:
Aside from multiplayer, which was one of the things that defined Xbox Live a half decade ago, I want to try out some of the earlier stages and get some practice time in with the "kill combo" technique. I tihnk it's an interesting approach to the Splinter Cell formula, and beside the visual splendor of watching Sam efficiently take down a number of enemies with Bourne-like speed, I find it fascinating in execution. It's also a great way to take away the paralyzing paranoia that some have toward stealth games (some gamers take a really long time to eliminate enemies one-by-one) and pace the action better. Will Splinter Cell: Conviction deliver the goods come February? There's an excellent chance that it can.

TGS 09: Splinter Cell: Conviction First Hands-On Impressions
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