Splinter Cell: Conviction Updated Impressions - The First Twenty Minutes

Twenty minutes into Sam Fisher's latest adventure and we've already smashed a man's face through a piano. Want to know more?

On the run from the government that trained him and searching for the men who killed his daughter, it's not easy being Sam Fisher. Fortunately, playing as Sam Fisher is not nearly as hard, as we found out during our hands-on time with Splinter Cell: Conviction at Microsoft's X10 event. The first 20 minutes of the game not only offer a slick tutorial of Sam's potent abilities, but they let you flex those muscles in all sorts of creatively deadly ways. Human shields, clever misdirection, and brutal interrogation techniques are all in a day's work for Fisher, and we discovered how Conviction makes these things simple to learn and satisfying to execute.

Splinter Cell: Conviction starts off with some dramatic cutscene moments. A redheaded woman with a gun to Fisher's head, an interrogation inside a secure facility, and ghostly images of Sam's daughter all flashed by while the cacophony of the event drowned out any expository audio. When the game proper began, we found ourselves in a street-side cafe, populated by a bustling crowd of people. There is a vividness to the characters and the environments that feels like a refreshing break for the shadowy series. When loud noises caused the idle citizenry to panic and run from the scene, the rush of activity and the stillness they left behind was like a sensory palette cleanser, letting you know this isn't the same gloomy Splinter Cell you've played before.

This strong visual impression continued as we made our way into the area where fruit vendors had set up stalls. It soon became clear that the market was our first training ground, and with the help of unobtrusive onscreen prompts, we soon became comfortable with moving in and out of cover. If you pull the left trigger, you'll stick behind cover in a manner similar to Gears of War. Move to the edge of cover and small white indicators will appear on other cover positions, indicating where you will move to if you tap the A button. This simple system is consistent with the game's slick interface. If you've seen coverage of Conviction before, you're probably familiar with the text objectives that appear on the ground, on the sides of buildings, and on other in-game surfaces. The cover indicators are similarly placed. They are visible enough to catch your eye, but not big enough to intrude on the environments.

The overall effect of this style is to draw your attention to the environments. It essentially trains your eye what to look for, so pretty soon you are sliding between cover positions without even noticing the indicators. This same philosophy extends to story exposition and character developments. When Sam is interrogating someone or having a relevant memory, a black and white projection will appear on whatever surface Sam is looking at. These filmstrip-quality videos move with Sam's gaze, allowing you a glimpse into the narrative without yanking you out of the moment. All these elements combine to create an engrossing visual style that impresses straight from the get-go.

Just as we were getting the hang of movement, Sam had a very vivid flashback that took us back in time to his daughter's bedroom. Young Sarah (approximately five years old) is scared of the dark, so Dad sits on her bed and explains how the dark is nothing to be frightened of. Though it was hard to hear the actual conversation because of the noisy event venue, the scene still conveyed a touching sense of fatherly devotion. It also served to demonstrate the visual filters that Conviction uses to indicate how stealthy Sam is being. When the world around you turns black and white, you are hidden from enemy sight. When you are spotted or exposed, the screen is once again flushed with vivid color. A quick jump back to the marketplace showed this in action, but soon it was back to the bedroom. This time, the quiet evening at home turned dangerous, as breaking noises in the other room heralded the arrival of intruders. Sam leaves Sarah in her room and deals with the armed invaders in classic Fisher style. A quick takedown (press B near an enemy) leveled and disarmed the first one, and then the other two were quickly marked for death. Whenever Sam performs a melee takedown, he earns the power to tag (aim and hit the right bumper) and quickly execute (Y button) enemies.

It's a powerful ability and one that is clearly integral to Sam's survival. How many enemies you can shoot in one takedown depends on the gun you are using and how upgraded it is. Splinter Cell: Conviction has a Persistent Elite Creation (PEC) system similar to that found in the Rainbow Six series. This system allows you to upgrade your arsenal in single-player, as well as tweak your guns and outfits in Conviction's cooperative modes. Fisher's single-player loadouts are determined by his progress to an extent, but there is definitely room to increase your gun damage, magazine size, or even the number of targets you can quickly execute.

PEC points are granted for fulfilling a wide variety of in-game challenges. Some are single- or multiplayer specific, but the points are persistent no matter what mode you are in. Many of these reward actions are what you would normally perform in the course of battle, like performing silent takedowns or quick executions. However, there are a lot that encourage you to use Sam's abilities to their fullest extent. During our time with the game, we earned some points for taking an enemy as a human shield and then using his head to bash through a door. We garnered another reward (also door-related) for using our busted rearview-window mirror to check under a door and then busting it in and knocking down an enemy on the other side. We also progressed toward a third reward by popping out of cover and grabbing our enemy's attention. When we dove back into cover, a silhouette remained of our last known position. Flanking and killing an enemy who was investigating our silhouette brought us one notch closer to the "cat and mouse" reward. Finally, we scored some points for shooting a large chandelier and bringing it crashing down on our enemies' heads. Good times.

Splinter Cell: Conviction is dedicated to making it easy to be the deadly Sam Fisher that we all know and love. The slick interface makes maneuvering through the environment feel natural and intuitive. Onscreen prompts and streamlined controls make your formidable array of abilities easily accessible. And a robust rewards system encourages you to make the most of your skills. As if we needed any encouragement to grab our daughter's murderer by the throat and smash his face into a grand piano.

Of course, this is all based on the first 20 minutes of the game. How Fisher's abilities evolve and where his adventure will take him remain a mystery. To read more about Splinter Cell: Conviction, check out our latest hands-on with the cooperative Deniable Ops mode. Splinter Cell: Conviction is looking sharp and is on track for an April 13 release on the Xbox 360 and PC.

Written By

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.

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Discussion

166 comments
teekler93
teekler93

smelly poop cheese corn sauce repeat smelly poop cheese corn sauce

Darkno
Darkno

2 DAYS :) Yeah D

gunner967
gunner967

6 days! :D:D:D:D:D:D:DD:D:D:D:D

da6t3
da6t3

Deadpan humor, cool gadgets, stealth moves and smashing faces into large inanimate objects. Oh, and a suppressed shotgun.

Vanadane
Vanadane

Preordered. Can't wait for it!

s2i2p2i2o
s2i2p2i2o

everything in the game looks great but the faces. honestly, they look like crap. still, i love splinter cell and this game looks awesome! played the demo at least 20 times, trying to kill the guys in the first room as quickly and quietly as possible :P

someGAMEcream
someGAMEcream

game looks sick. too bad i have no money. deff a buy to me

DJslinky
DJslinky

yes yes yes this is the one

DirtyRedPrince
DirtyRedPrince

i have $130 worth of faith invested in this game, its going to be the best

Xx619MysterioxX
Xx619MysterioxX

I'm so Buying this game! But isn't it funny they made a Splinter Cell on the PS3 and didn't make a Sequel, It would be stupid to screw the PS3 Gamers. So "Exclusive" in Ubisoft world is Timed As Always. 1 Year later. HOLY S**T! Now i get to play Splinter Cell: Conviction, While the 360 Gamers are like Thats old News. lol Hate me, love me its the Truth.

KaizerJinn
KaizerJinn

awesome good. think it's going to be amazing! =D

penyada7
penyada7

I just want to know if if any body has any ideas on what they think or want in Splinter Cell in say 9 to 11 yrs from now. If 3d is just around the corner , and 3d glasssss. now think natal with a cd tv , sony arc or even gloves with them 3d glasssss that could help project in an image in your eye and the 3d tv at the same time , they could link project a 4d image ( star wars minority report ) that would be senstive to touch , the gloves would think your touch a signal coming from the 3d tv and being projectd into your 3d glassssss and bla bla bla ..... Seamless .... Gaming.

deedoubleyou814
deedoubleyou814

i hope itll be a challenge cuz i def dont want to be able to breeze through each level, looks too easy when your in the shadows

Bashers79
Bashers79

@aTRUEplaya I've been using that nick name for about 2 years now and you're the only one whose ever tried to link it to the subject of buggery. Think about bumming men much do you? its time you came out of the closet and stopped projecting your own homosexual tendencies on others. Oh... so you do live with your mum and dad then, hardly qualifies you as a "playa" does it now.

jenguando
jenguando

Game looks really brutal.Love it.My only gripe is the black and white stealth colours. The game is visually stunning.Shame to have to play it in dreary bleak colours most of the time.

steveasplinty
steveasplinty

ha I'm with italianice102 on this one... whats even funnier though is this comment "frankblack789 Posted Feb 16, 2010 8:48 pm GMT @aTRUEplaya i'm sorry, what the hell did you say?" really dude who types that when you can clearly read what you read...again and again until you fully comprehend

italianice102
italianice102

I can't believe people actually argue and fight in video comments for a video game hah.

doontime
doontime

Lol @aTRUEplaya you're 17, you need to grow up and stop thinking perverted butt jokes. I didn't think that when I saw the name and I still don't. Oh and by the way it is harder to play when you have to keep looking behind you and then back at the game.

aTRUEplaya
aTRUEplaya

@frankblack789 hah... all i said was that the guy sucked at the game and everyone flipped when i could really care less about how good he is at the game

aTRUEplaya
aTRUEplaya

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

aTRUEplaya
aTRUEplaya

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

rattboy666
rattboy666

I really hope you can turn off the black and white filter in favor of some other sort of way to know your undetected somewhere in the options. This means the better you do in the game by being stealthy your punished by being forced to look at a dreary black and white screen through out the entire game rather than something colorful and inviting...so much for feeling emersed in the environment. I really dont understand why they would choose this as an alternative. I was really excited about this game for a few years and now this is a big let down for me. When i want to play games in black and white i'll go to my grand parents house.

frankblack789
frankblack789

@aTRUEplaya i'm sorry, what the hell did you say?

Chronikas
Chronikas

@asghar74: it's on the PC too, genius.

Bashers79
Bashers79

@aTRUEplaya Personal insults? yeah great way of putting your argument across, it just shows you for what you really are, aTRUEloser. HAHAHA a "playa" I bet your white middle class and still live with your "Mumma and Puppa".

wooly_mamoth
wooly_mamoth

might get this now, didnt really like Double Agent or Splinter Cell on PS2, hopefully this game will have some cool stuff to do and be a little less punishing on failiure

twitchmonkey399
twitchmonkey399

@ aTRUEplaya Do you have any idea how hard it is to play a game and give commentary on it at the same time all the way through the video? You suck at judging gamer skill.

aTRUEplaya
aTRUEplaya

@Bashers79 has a misses? Hmm... could of assumed by the name that he's more into getting BASHERED than having a women around that could put him off his game

Saajko
Saajko

I am very dissapointed that this is only a Xbox exclusive, I really want it looks amazing awesome, I love stealth games, I've played MGS4 it was great but this looks a bit faster, acrobatic and action packed....A definate high on my want list for 2010.

bishop60
bishop60

game looks very very good... i have both consoles also and i can say just like other people that ps3 and 360 are going to have great exlusives... splinter cell for 360 and god of war for ps3... overall, going to be a great year..

Geris_F
Geris_F

look very good and i hope it have a good story too .

Bashers79
Bashers79

@aTRUEplaya might have something to do with him looking at and talking to the camera over his shoulder. I know when my misses is nagging me from the kitchen it sure puts me off my game.

renigade16
renigade16

Sweet! Man So happy I preordered this. Looks like 2010 is gonna be Xbox's year!

razykiel
razykiel

I have both consols so I dont have a lot of negativity either way but those die hard sony fanboys have to realise this will start happening across the board in terms of exclusive content, all u really have left is MGS, Drakes and GOW. Good games I can't deny it but not all campaign based games (and the 2 of them that offer mulitplater doesnt offer much). Consider that the consol is double the price and offers a weak online experience at best, sorry guys but it wont get any better.

SkeetWeetSlappy
SkeetWeetSlappy

too bad this is just for Xbox oh well, PS3 has great exclusives too peace ;)

VEGETAVSBROLLY
VEGETAVSBROLLY

i think there is no aspect which is bad in this game. everything seems so good in this game. guess it will be a bigger success than its prequels.

VEGETAVSBROLLY
VEGETAVSBROLLY

i saw the first 12 minutes of the game. it was just awesome. cant wait any longer for this game.

LOVERPS3
LOVERPS3

me2:( but i will buy it cuz this game:)

Hoob22
Hoob22

This game looks like it will be great. I actually prefer a bit of over the top action vs gritty realism all the time. People don't want too much realism when there playing a game anyway, or you would be actually in a warzone vs sitting in front of a T.V screen. It looks like it will be a good year for 360 AND the ps3, the only people that miss out are the poor wii devotees. Hopefully Nintendo steps their game up.