Splinter Cell is finally coming back!
While the series has been MIA for a while now, Ubisoft Montreal has been tirelessly working on the latest addition Splinter Cell: Conviction. The game picks up where the last one left off with Sam Fisher (the hero and badass spy) no longer working for the government and on his own personal mission to find the person responsible for killing his daughter.
We were recently shown a private demo of the game and let me tell you, it is looking sexy! While previous games in the series are all about hiding in the dark and using somewhat more traditional stealth tactics, Conviction is upping the ante. Fisher is not only more deadly, but quicker... a lot quicker. While stealth still plays a bit part in the game, the player will now have more action-based options. That basically means if you don't want to play smart and sneak around, you can just go in guns blazing and kill everything that moves.
The demo started off with an interrogation scene in a bathroom, which quickly became pretty dirty (pun intended). Not only did this scene look great and well animated but also it was completely interactive. As Sam, you could move the guy you were interrogating around the room and basically smash him against various things, such as toilet stalls, urinals or the bathroom sink. Once Sam got the information he wanted, the game transitioned smoothly into the next level. Loading is now handled in the background while a fly-by video is shown for the mission, along with a slight briefing.
Conviction adds some other innovations too; one of my favourites is how they handle the storytelling. Instead of having an objective menu or cutscene play, everything is projected out into the world. It is a great way to keep the player immersed and keep the game moving. It all works seamlessly and is a very welcome change to the series.
Another great addition is the mark and execute. Besides demonstrating an increase in Sam's speed, this feature allows Sam to mark targets such as enemies or light bulbs. Once marked, all you have to do is hit the "Y" button, and if the enemies are in eyesight Sam will quickly and stylishly take them out. This feature not only opens up a lot of tactical options but it makes Sam feel a lot better, almost like Jason Bourne or Jack Bower. I should point out, however, that in order to use the mark execute feature you have to do a hand-to-hand takedown of someone else first.
The final innovation we’ve been shown so far is called “The Last Known Position”. What this does is create a shadowy silhouette of Sam that indicates where the enemy last saw you. This allows you to play a bit of a cat and mouse game and also tells you when your current hiding spot is no good. Sneaking around in the shadows has also received some changes - instead of a bar on the screen that shows when you are hidden, the screen (except for visible enemies) will fade to more of a black and white. Not only does this help you know when you are hidden and keep track of your enemies, but it also does a great job of removing the usual kind of screen clutter found in most stealth games.
While what we were shown of Splinter Cell: Conviction was short, it was very impressive and got me excited for the series all over again. The story seems to be much more personal and character-focused than the series has previously provided. The graphics were great and the gameplay showed a lot of updates and improvements to old features of the series and genre, as well as a lot of new stuff to keep it interesting.
Considering this is only the first content Ubisoft have started showing people, it is safe to say that much like Sam, they have a few more tricks hiding in the shadows just waiting to take us all by surprise.