While we've already seen what the first 20 minutes of Sam Fisher's latest adventure has to offer, publisher Ubisoft has kept many of the new multiplayer modes away from our grubby little mitts. One such mode is Last Stand, which is Conviction's take on the endless-wave gameplay featured in Gears of War 2's Horde mode and Halo: ODST's Firefight mode. We spent some time with the new mode to see if it shares the same addictive quality as its forebears.
Your job in Last Stand is to protect an electromagnetic pulse bomb from disgruntled terrorists that are hell-bent on destroying it. The EMP has a health bar that decreases each time it is shot; if you manage to stave off the attackers, the health bar is replenished slightly and another wave of enemies appears to try to take it out. A running counter lets you see how many terrorists are left in each wave so you can plan your attacks accordingly. There is also a short respite from the action between waves, allowing you to stock up on ammunition and gather weapons from fallen enemies. Waves get progressively harder, so you'll not only have to fend terrorists off in increasing numbers, but also deal with new strategies and weapon types. Like other modes in the game, you can choose your weapon and armor loadout before you jump into a match. These fall into five categories: pistol, alternate, primary gadget, secondary gadget, and uniform. Each item has ratings, such as power or protection level, which you can compare before choosing. Depending on your play style, you may want to stick to silenced weapons for stealth or load up on noisier but more powerful guns if you like to go in all guns blazing. There are large number of items to choose from, though we weren't able to see everything because they weren't all are unlocked at the start of the game. However, Ubisoft did kit us out with an ideal loadout that consisted of an MP-446 pistol, KSS-74U rifle, frag grenades, and stealth armor.
We sampled one map called St. Petersburg Banya, which took place in what looked like an old hotel lobby. There was a central circular atrium, with four corridors leading away from it. In the centre of the room was a large chandelier, underneath which sat the EMP we were trying to protect. The room quickly filled with terrorists as the round kicked off, and we set about dispatching them before the EMP took too much damage. The terrorists were quite clever, flanking us and using height to get the advantage. They also strategically used grenades to flush us out from the shadows and into their line of fire. We went in all guns blazing on our first try, which ultimately resulted in us being killed rather quickly. We were told that the Last Stand mode is the most difficult in the game and is intended to be the one that seasoned players can go to for a challenge. Our second run-through was much better, and we used cover to conceal ourselves from enemies. At times, we found the EMP was taking too much damage and were advised to jump out of cover just long enough to distract the enemies, as well as move the shooting away from the device. As we progressed through the waves, it became more difficult to stay alive. We had to use a portable EMP to stagger the terrorists, and by switching to sonar goggles, we could pick them off one by one before they regained their balance. As a last resort, we shot down the chandelier in the centre of the room, allowing us to take out a group of enemies in one fell swoop, though this could--obviously--only be used once.
Conviction is a good-looking game, and the slick interface ensures that you're never taken out of the action. Information, such as your score at the end of each Last Stand round and how long it took you to complete it, is projected onto walls. In-play colours also shift to black and white to indicate you're in stealth. Though Conviction clearly borrows from other games for the Last Stand mode, the addition of stealth, equipment loadouts, and a central defense point add a layer of strategy to the experience that is currently unrivalled. Splinter Cell: Conviction is set for release on the Xbox 360 and PC on April 13. Keep reading GameSpot for a full review soon.