Almost one month ago, I traveled to San Francisco to play some of Splinter Cell: Conviction's prologue, which takes the form of a co-op story leading up to the events of Sam Fisher's story. I was extremely impressed and you can read my full impressions here in this preview.
Here at CES 2010, I was able to get some hands-on time with the Deniable Ops mode, which is the game's non-story-based multiplayer component. There are several modes, but I played through the first map in the "Hunter" game mode. This mode is a simple terrorist hunt mode that moves the player through several levels, eliminating a set number of enemies. If seen, enemies will call for reinforcements and the number of targets increases significantly.
Even on Normal difficulty, your character can only take a few bullets so stealth is definitely the way to play. This does not mean that the game is slow-paced. Far from it, in fact. With a bit of careful planning, marking targets, and using the shadows to confuse the enemies, it's quite possible to dispatch upwards of five enemies within seconds.
Thankfully, the game places the enemies in random locations each time you play so you won't suffer through the same enemy positions each time. Alarms will bring more enemies and getting spotted means you're in for trouble. This isn't Metal Gear. You can't hide while a timer ticks down. To return to stealth, you'll have to kill the enemies that have been alerted to your presence.
On the technical side, the build has been optimized a bit more since I played it in December and framerate dips were much less frequent. It sounded great running on a Dolby sound system here at CES 2010 and the game uses good audio cues to alert you to different actions and events. The executions sound particularly good, but that's what you'd expect from three quick headshots within the span of two seconds. Badass.
While playing, the Ubisoft representatives told me it was the best run they had seen at the show. What can I say? I love me some Splinter Cell. I just wish I had a co-op buddy to play through with. The shared Mark & Execute mechanic is extremely satisfying. The all-too-long wait until February 23, 2010 continues.