X10 Hands On: Splinter Cell: Conviction

Nobody can accuse Splinter Cell: Conviction of sneaking up on them. Ubisoft’s espionage series has had plenty of show time since E3 2009 and I had been impressed by the videos so I was keen to have a go myself.

The first thing to report is how great this game looks. I was told that there had been extra layers of polish added since the gameplay demonstration videos appeared and the textures are fantastic. The opening levels (including the restroom interrogation and the mansion assault) are set in Malta and the attention to detail in your surroundings is impressive. Working through a littered market, smoothly dodging from cover to cover is a joy and when you’re sure no enemies are looking you can knock the oranges off the fruit stall and send fireworks whistling into the sky with a well-aimed bullet.

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The in-scene prompts and guides, “projected” onto the scenery, work wonderfully and help to keep you immersed without breaking the flow of the game. The game mechanic of marking targets before you pop up and finish them off is also impressively implemented. Essentially you have all the time in the world to mark targets when unseen and in cover but if you’re spotted you will have to mark your targets under fire. It’s not a game-stalling mechanic and seems to add to the pressing urgency in this game to keep cover.

Whilst hidden, the screen desaturates leaving only your enemies and any traps you can spring on them in colour. This allows you to easily see the dangers before you break cover and get yourself shot. It allowed me to easily see an enemy patrolling up behind my cover position and pop up from the corner, disabling him hand-to-hand before returning to cover.

I did this after a couple of minutes in the game while the demo guy was talking to me, it’s that intuitive. There is also a mirror, smashed from a car’s wing-mirror, which enables you to peek under doors. It’s all implemented in a believable and seamless way.

The overwhelming impression I got of Splinter Cell: Conviction was of how smooth and flowing it was. After seeing the videos I was a tad concerned that the movement between cover might be tightly scripted and break the natural rhythm of the game but it really doesn’t. The whole experience of being Sam Fisher, working in the shadows and eliminating your threats is an exhilarating one.

There are co-operative multiplayer and a single-player challenge game mode called “Deniable Ops” in addition to the campaign. I pressed the Ubi guys about competitive multiplayer and was told that they were doing it but they weren’t talking about how they were doing it just yet.

If Splinter Cell: Conviction is on your radar then rest assured that it seems highly likely to live up to expectations. If you were unsure of this game then I can tell you to relax, it’s shaping up to be something quite special.

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