EUROGAMER EXPO ’09 Pt 2: Splinter Cell 5

While I wasn’t able to play many games for very long at this year’s Eurogamer Expo, I spent a lot of the day sightseeing. By far the most in-depth preview was Ubisoft’s surprise showing of the new Splinter Cell game, Conviction.

After a very smooth opening cutscene, showing Sam Fisher interrogating some generic evil-doer by smashing his face into urinals as information gained was projected on the wallls, Fisher runs out into a civilian-packed street. Pulling his gun out causes a panic, people running away and shouting, allowing Fisher in a very Assassin’s Creed-esque moment to slip amongst them unnoticed by guards. The game might have gone “back to the drawing board” a year or so ago, but its certainly kept the initial mission statement, a game about hiding in plain sight.Splinter Cell 2As the game was being fired up, our host had told us he was aiming to show off two keys aspects of the game: its new focus on more action-heavy stealth, and to explain the new (and, he said, misunderstood) ‘Mark and Execute’ system. Its an insta-kill that be queued up to stop the momentum ever dipping, but must first be earned, by committing risky melee attacks on enemies.

What we saw was incredibly smooth. In the most heavy action sequence shown, Mark and Execute was used to tag two guards behind a door. Waiting for the third to approach, Fisher then kicks the door down on him, immediately (and automatically) shoots down the other two. He then slips behind a table to run for cover, bursting out a nearby window and clinging on the ledge below as the next window along explodes gloriously outwards into flames (I’m actually not really sure why this happened, everything was so frantic).

All this happened in the space of 30 seconds. Gone, it seems, is the Splinter Cell wait-a-thon, clearing an entire building one unfortunately-placed guard at a time. But wipe away that tear; in its place is a sprint- a polished, violent headlong dash through a beautifully-presented world.Splinter CellMy fear is that the game just doesn’t encourage you to actually look at that world- the Splinter Cell games have always managed to squeeze every last drop of pretty from realistic settings with its deep colours and varied scenery. This looks to be no exception- almost surprisingly beautiful, especially with the new integration of objects and information, seemingly projected onto walls in the world around you. But most of the time, that seemed to be a blur- there was a bare minimum of real hiding involved.While I often tended to the action route in previous games (especially with Chaos Theory‘s addition of a shotgun), it was the hiding that stuck with you. After having watched Conviction, eyes admittedly bulging, I couldn’t help wondering, do I have to?

It seems unlikely that the game will throw away its unique selling-point, and this section was likely picked for its impressive speedy action. I’m all for the game Conviction is shaping up to be, I just hope it’s not at the expense of classic Splinter Cell hide-and-seek gameplay.

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  1. Isn’t Splinter Cell a game series created (conceptwise) by Tom Clancy, the writer who gave the world The Hunt for Red October?

    I almost bought the first edition of Rainbow Six when the novel came out at the same time that the game was rolled out, but I never did; the only Tom Clancy games I have ever really played well havce been Red Storm Rising and SSN.

    Are the Splinter Cell games any good?

  2. @Fardreamer: In theory, yes, but I don’t know how much input Mr Clancy really had. (I suspect, little to none.) Kind of like Tony Hawk I guess.

    And yes they are very very good games. With the exception of the most recent (and only current-gen) one. That is a very very shit game.

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