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Splinter Cell: Conviction Hands-On

We go rogue with Sam Fisher's next mission.

 They should've brought more guys.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction has seen a long and turbulent development cycle, one that finally seemed to have found its footing at E3 2009, when Ubisoft showed a sequence from the game that replaced the shaggy-haired tramp that had originally been cast to play Sam Fisher with a lean and focused revenge engine. It also introduced a host of stylistic and mechanical changes for Splinter Cell--one of the few remaining stewards of the rigid, pure stealth philosophy--showing a game that still encouraged you to operate from the shadows, but with a higher priority on speed and brutality. Ubisoft had that same sequence, preceded by a tutorial that sheds light on the game's mechanics and Sam Fisher's state of mind in equal measure, in a playable form at Microsoft's recent X10 event. As eager as I was to see something genuinely new from Conviction, my 20 minutes with the game left me even more excited for what they haven't shown.
 
The opening sequence in Conviction hammers home what we already know about the metamorphosis of Sam Fisher from Third Echelon company man to a bitter outsider intent on using his formidable and dangerous abilities to mete out some semblance of justice from those he believes have wronged him. There's an early, eerie flashback at the start of Conviction that serves double duty of introducing some of the game's new mechanics as well as reopening the gaping wound of Sam's daughter's death. Sam explains to his young daughter, afraid of the dark, that it's easier to see the monsters coming and stay hidden when the lights are out--a fundamental truth for Splinter Cell that still rings true in Conviction.
 
Moments later, the Fisher house plays host to a pair of the world's unluckiest home invaders, who quickly fall victim to Sam's new mark-and-execute ability. This pretty much does what it says, letting Sam mark two enemies and then auto execute them with the press of a button. It's perfect for guards who seem to have a knack for patrolling in pairs, though abuse of this system is tempered somewhat by the fact that you need to first take down another enemy hand-to-hand before mark-to-execute is made available. Incapacitating enemies up-close is also a single-press process, and though I didn't find it hard to keep Sam charged up, it's worth noting that this stuff appears to be from the very, very beginning of the game.
 
 Cover is your friend.
Jumping back to modern-day Malta, Sam is on hunt for the man he believes to be responsible for his daughter's death, a man that happens to be holed up in a massive seaside mansion crawling with guards. The open-air markets and cafes surrounding the mansion are similarly infested, which makes them a good place to learn about Sam's cover-to-cover system, which recalls similar systems in games like Gears of War. Make no mistake, Conviction is looking like more of a straight shooter than any of the Splinter Cell games before it, and the shooting feels more forgiving and approachable. I wasn't blind-firing clips into enemies, but I didn't feel like I had to be overly conservative with bullets, either.
 
Infiltrating the mansion through an open window, I made my way through the mansion, shooting out lights, snapping necks, and using a busted-off car mirror to check under doors before proceeding to the next room. When I did get spotted, disappearing was made significantly easier with the “last known position” feature, which creates a silhouette of Sam where the enemies think you are. Last known position isn't strictly a damage control feature, though--I also found it handy for drawing groups of enemies to a specific location, and then sneaking right past them. The mission cultivated with an interrogation sequence with Sam's target, which punches up outpours of information and exposition with quick flashes of extreme violence. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot to the interrogation process, but I'll be damned if it's not immensely satisfying to smash a guy's head through a piano's keys to get him to talk.
 
In some ways, Splinter Cell is eschewing some of the mechanisms that made past games such a specific and measured experience with Conviction, which may be disheartening for fans still pining for the good ol' days of stealth action. What it might be losing in mechanical sophistication, though, it's more than making up for with a much more visceral, and personal, experience.  
 
 
45 Comments
Posted by Ryan
 They should've brought more guys.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction has seen a long and turbulent development cycle, one that finally seemed to have found its footing at E3 2009, when Ubisoft showed a sequence from the game that replaced the shaggy-haired tramp that had originally been cast to play Sam Fisher with a lean and focused revenge engine. It also introduced a host of stylistic and mechanical changes for Splinter Cell--one of the few remaining stewards of the rigid, pure stealth philosophy--showing a game that still encouraged you to operate from the shadows, but with a higher priority on speed and brutality. Ubisoft had that same sequence, preceded by a tutorial that sheds light on the game's mechanics and Sam Fisher's state of mind in equal measure, in a playable form at Microsoft's recent X10 event. As eager as I was to see something genuinely new from Conviction, my 20 minutes with the game left me even more excited for what they haven't shown.
 
The opening sequence in Conviction hammers home what we already know about the metamorphosis of Sam Fisher from Third Echelon company man to a bitter outsider intent on using his formidable and dangerous abilities to mete out some semblance of justice from those he believes have wronged him. There's an early, eerie flashback at the start of Conviction that serves double duty of introducing some of the game's new mechanics as well as reopening the gaping wound of Sam's daughter's death. Sam explains to his young daughter, afraid of the dark, that it's easier to see the monsters coming and stay hidden when the lights are out--a fundamental truth for Splinter Cell that still rings true in Conviction.
 
Moments later, the Fisher house plays host to a pair of the world's unluckiest home invaders, who quickly fall victim to Sam's new mark-and-execute ability. This pretty much does what it says, letting Sam mark two enemies and then auto execute them with the press of a button. It's perfect for guards who seem to have a knack for patrolling in pairs, though abuse of this system is tempered somewhat by the fact that you need to first take down another enemy hand-to-hand before mark-to-execute is made available. Incapacitating enemies up-close is also a single-press process, and though I didn't find it hard to keep Sam charged up, it's worth noting that this stuff appears to be from the very, very beginning of the game.
 
 Cover is your friend.
Jumping back to modern-day Malta, Sam is on hunt for the man he believes to be responsible for his daughter's death, a man that happens to be holed up in a massive seaside mansion crawling with guards. The open-air markets and cafes surrounding the mansion are similarly infested, which makes them a good place to learn about Sam's cover-to-cover system, which recalls similar systems in games like Gears of War. Make no mistake, Conviction is looking like more of a straight shooter than any of the Splinter Cell games before it, and the shooting feels more forgiving and approachable. I wasn't blind-firing clips into enemies, but I didn't feel like I had to be overly conservative with bullets, either.
 
Infiltrating the mansion through an open window, I made my way through the mansion, shooting out lights, snapping necks, and using a busted-off car mirror to check under doors before proceeding to the next room. When I did get spotted, disappearing was made significantly easier with the “last known position” feature, which creates a silhouette of Sam where the enemies think you are. Last known position isn't strictly a damage control feature, though--I also found it handy for drawing groups of enemies to a specific location, and then sneaking right past them. The mission cultivated with an interrogation sequence with Sam's target, which punches up outpours of information and exposition with quick flashes of extreme violence. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot to the interrogation process, but I'll be damned if it's not immensely satisfying to smash a guy's head through a piano's keys to get him to talk.
 
In some ways, Splinter Cell is eschewing some of the mechanisms that made past games such a specific and measured experience with Conviction, which may be disheartening for fans still pining for the good ol' days of stealth action. What it might be losing in mechanical sophistication, though, it's more than making up for with a much more visceral, and personal, experience.  
 
 
Posted by Fripplebubby

Splinter cell is so hardcore. I really can't wait, and this is great info. 

Posted by armaan8014

This game is gonna be one of the best this year. Looks like a super action movie.. love it.

Posted by MikkaQ

This sounds amazing, the pain of the wait is starting to sink in.

Posted by Alienshogun

Yeah, I'm pretty stoked for it too. Especially since on the 360 if you buy it you get into the Ghost Recon: Future Soldier beta.

Posted by ZombieHunterOG

damn i wants it meow

Posted by Scarlet_Rogue

Fuck. Yes.

Posted by JJWeatherman

Dude... I just Tweeted this story! Nice!

Posted by Jadeskye

i want this so much.

Posted by MarkWahlberg

I kind of miss the original premise for this game, where Sam was a homeless dude in DC trying to figure shit out. Sounded a lot more interesting than this.

Posted by Rayfield

I wondered before reading this whether Ryan got the chance to break a dude's neckin his short time with the game. And then I read that he did. 
 
Awesome.
Posted by DominatingFrance

Way to show all the best bits of the game in a trailer, now I don't have to play it!

Posted by TheYear20XX

Goddamn I can't wait for this to come out. It looks like Taken: The Game.

Posted by Death_Unicorn

The jolly ol' month of April?

Posted by TomA

ahhhhh! wall of text. No thank you

Posted by Belonpopo

Sam fisher is the ultimate badass GET HYPE!

Posted by Sweep

"You can't touch me! I'm bulletproof! "

Holy fuck.
 
So... that's pretty fucking awesome.
Moderator
Posted by pause422

That trailer, was pretty damn awesome.

Posted by BlownSpeakers

All that trailer did was remind me of 24

Edited by Spacetrucking

I'm happy they are still keeping the light sensitive nature of the game. Shooting bulbs or moving quickly from one dark corner to another is what made it a fun tactical espionage game. And by the way, Michael Ironside has still got it. His voice gives me chills.
 
@TomA: Seriously, wall of text ? Do you ever read anything ?

Posted by DrPockets000

AHHHH!! 
 
It looks so awesome!  My adrenaline is PUMPING!

Posted by samcotts

Never thought I'd be hyped for a Splinter Cell game, but this looks awesome. 
 
It's mind blowing to think back to what the original design for this game was (hobo Fisher), this looks unbelievably better. Does make you think though, how the same people could be responsible for both ideas, and the difference in quality in them.    

Posted by JDDrewes

Why the hell did i blow $60 on Assassin's Creed than wait for this?!

Edited by crusader8463

God, i hope Ubisoft doesn't fuck up this game as badly as they are Assassins Creed 2. While I'm willing to skip over AC2, i have been waiting for far to long for this game to have to pass on it because of the DRM they impose on their games.
 
EDIT: Wait a sec, in that video Sam's daughter was just a kid. She was supposed to be in her twenties, and was killed by a drunk driver. I r confuzzeled.

Posted by Some1StoleMyTortilla

This is looking like its gonna be the first Splinter Cell game I would actually spend 60 bucks on.

Posted by biggest_loser

Christ, half the plot is shown in the trailer. 
 
Where's Liam?!!

Posted by Cetra

Everything about this game is sounding better and better. Also, that new trailer is one of the best trailers I've seen for a game in a while. 
 
Can't wait.

Posted by golguin

I've never been interested in any Splinter Cell game, but this trailer sure as hell did.

Posted by rateoforange
@MarkWahlberg said:
" I kind of miss the original premise for this game, where Sam was a homeless dude in DC trying to figure shit out. Sounded a lot more interesting than this. "
Kind of agree. This one sounds like a McBain movie. When the guy fell over the glass railing with the american flag, I thought he was going to get impaled on it!
Posted by Jiggah

So, Sam has a particular set of skills...

Posted by Milkman

FUUUUUCCCCKK

Online
Posted by ch3burashka

...but what about the night vision goggles?

Posted by BreakfastKing

Is it wrong if I've had this game paid off since it was originally announced in... what, like Fall 07?

Posted by myghart
@crusader8463 said:
...  EDIT: Wait a sec, in that video Sam's daughter was just a kid. She was supposed to be in her twenties, and was killed by a drunk driver. I r confuzzeled. "
Exactly. I also recall Sam not being present when it happened, it was after one of his missions in SC:DA that he received the news while on a helicopter, being extracted, throwing his goggles out and all... I'd be pissed at Ubi if they just sloppily changed the fiction for the sakes of a revenge story.
Posted by LiquidPrince

Exclusivity for this game is weird...

Posted by Metiphis

Clearly he had another daughter later on.

Posted by Bionicicide
@crusader8463 said:
 EDIT: Wait a sec, in that video Sam's daughter was just a kid. She was supposed to be in her twenties, and was killed by a drunk driver. I r confuzzeled. "
Never heard of a flashback before?
Posted by MrGarcia

This looks awesome. Let just see if it plays awesome as well.

Posted by swamplord666
@Jiggah:  haha YES! Taken ftw!
"I don't know who you are, I don't know what you want, if you're looking for a ransom I can tell you I don't have the money. But what I do have is a particular set of skills. Skills that I have acquiredfrom a very long career, skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go, that will be the end of it. I will not look for you and I will not pursue you. But if you don't I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you."
Most awesome quote of the century :D
Posted by Tordah

Damn, that was intense. Sam Fischer is really pissed off!
 
I should probably get around to finishing the first four games though...

Posted by darkjester74
GO SAM GO!!!
Posted by Jared

All I got to say is...DAMN this looks good!

Posted by kennybaese

Yeah, you know, I was kind of over Splinter Cell after Double Agent so I wasn't really planning on getting this but now I just might have to. It looks kind of awesome. And enough stuff seems to be pretty different that I think I can get on board. 

Edited by harinosho

was splinter cell games all about action?.. cos i remember something of stealth being a big chunk of it (some people, if memory served me well, made metal gear solid and splinter cell rivals in the genre) 
 
never played splinter cell myself.. always been a kojima fan..
 
what i mean to say is.. will fans enjoy this game or is it mearly for the masses..

Posted by Stealthmaster86
@harinosho:  It's been all about stealth but the one thing I hated about the Splinter Cell games is that when you are seen or kill too many people, even for self defense, the game is OVER. I'm hearing a bunch of people complaining about this that it's too action heavy.  For the first time in the series you are giving options of what to do. Do you go in guns blasting or do you do it carefully? Like MGS I'll do a bit of both. I'm sure that this is one of those few games that after a few play throughs I'll play it on a harder difficulty.