Splinter Cell: Conviction Updated Impressions

Sam Fisher has finally emerged from the shadows and is ready for payback. We got an updated look at his latest mission ahead of E3.

by

Sam Fisher's latest mission was revealed back in 2007, but just like its star, Sam Fisher, it disappeared into the shadows. Since then, the team at Ubisoft Montreal has been slogging away on redefining the game, and the result is a fresh direction for the series. We got an updated look at the game when we paid a visit to Montreal to meet the development team behind Sam's toughest assignment yet.

After evading the authorities in Double Agent, Sam has gone deep undercover. Two years later, he's forced out of hiding to hunt down the drunk driver who killed his daughter, Sarah Fisher, in Double Agent. On the hunt for personal revenge, Sam's quest will take him across the globe; first to Malta and then, eventually, to Washington with the hope of unravelling the conspiracy behind her death. Being a fugitive on a personal quest, Sam is without his usual Swiss Army Knife of gadgets and suits. This time around, you'll need to procure makeshift items in the field or from Sam's network of allies, as well as take weapons from downed enemies. At the start of our demo, we saw Sam breaking off the rear-view mirror of his SUV to use as a makeshift snake cam. He'll get plenty of other improvised items along the way, and Ubisoft hinted that it's possible Sam will reenter Third Echelon at a later part of the game. When asked if Sam's trademark three-sensor night-vision goggles make a return, Conviction's creative director Max Beland was coy, saying that whilst he doesn't have them, some of the enemies he encounters have similar night goggles. We're hoping they can be taken from the cold corpses left in his wake.

Third Echelon's chief analyst Anna Grimsdottir is back again in a support role, and you'll also be introduced to Victo Coster, a former Navy Seal, who is now the head of a security consulting company. Coster and Sam go way back, so there's sure to be some history dredged up along the way. The person Sam's most concerned with is an arms dealer called Andriy Kobin, who is believed to be Sarah's killer and currently located in Malta.

Beland said that the goal for the development team was to create the fantasy of being one of the world's best stealth operatives, without the slow pace that's usually associated with stealth games, including Splinter Cell. While using stealth and the shadows is still important, you can move faster than before with a more fluid animation system. For example, you will see Sam run, climb, drop, leap, and kill with a minimum of sound. In the demonstration we saw, Sam can now run up pipes and shimmy across ledges in record time. We're told the frustrating control scheme from Double Agent has been improved in Conviction, but we couldn't get Ubisoft to reveal any specifics in this area. The team is also remaining tight-lipped when it comes to multiplayer support because, perhaps, it wants to focus on single-player first.

One neat addition to the series is the "mark and execute" feature. Rainbow Six Vegas fans will be familiar with this; it allows you to identify targets before storming a room and eliminating them. Instead of assigning their death to a teammate, Sam will have to do the dirty work by himself. By marking targets beforehand, Sam will auto-aim and fire once you issue the command. And, it looks like it will work in much the same way as it did in Vegas. You will need line of sight to shoot targets, and you can not only select people but also interactive objects, such as lights, barrels, or traps.

Due to the personal nature of the mission, Sam's attitude is more aggressive and desperate this time around. This is demonstrated in another new addition to the series: interrogations. If you thought Jack Bauer was cold, you should check out Sam's moves. You can grab people by the throat or put them in a headlock and proceed to beat the information out of them. Depending on the circumstances, Sam can either knock them out or kill them outright. A great example of this is the opening scene of the demo where Sam interrogates a man in a seedy bathroom in Malta whom he suspects knows the whereabouts of Sarah's killer. After pressing him for information, he eventually gets an answer, cracking his head onto a sink where the game's titles are displayed above on the mirror.

One final new feature is the "last known position." When an enemy breaks line of sight with you, a ghost of Sam will be superimposed into the environment to indicate where that enemy last saw you. In addition to using it as a tool for escape, it will aid in creating an ambush while the enemy makes a beeline to your last known position. Conviction has thrown away the light meter and instead uses the environment itself to indicate your level of visibility. When you're exposed, everything will appear as a full-colour spectrum. When you're hidden in the shadows, however, everything will appear in grayscale. In this mode, objects that appear in colour are interactive--such as a chandelier that you can use to kill multiple guards.

Players seeking an immersive experience will be pleased to know there are no lengthy cutscenes or loading screens in Conviction. Instead, everything is presented to you through the game's engine. Ubisoft has taken a cinematic approach, and in-game text will be projected onto the world itself, such as buildings (for example, "infiltrate the mansion"), or roads. Fans of Panic Room, North by Northwest, and Fringe will be familiar with this technique, which looks great in the game. Video updates will also be projected in front of Sam, much like they were in Dead Space, and you can choose to watch or ignore them entirely. The videos seem to represent a mental projection of Sam's thoughts, including information on suspects and flashbacks of Sarah's death. We thought it worked well within Conviction's story and setting. We also saw a cool transition scene where the camera panned through the Maltese mansion from the room where Kobin is holed up, down several interior levels, through the front door's keyhole, out into the street, and eventually to Sam's car. Conviction's visuals are looking top-notch, and we can't wait to see more of the game before launch.

Splinter Cell: Conviction is an exclusive for the Xbox 360 and PC and is currently due to ship this fall. For more on the game, check out the E3 trailer and stay in touch with all of GameSpot's E3 coverage at e3.gamespot.com.

Discussion

235 comments
oo0000o0000oo
oo0000o0000oo

To all those who think that Mark and Execute is lame and looks too easy, just simply don't use that feature, it's not mandatory;o) Just pretend it doesn't even exist;o) Anyway you can't do the mark and execute unless you take out an enemy in a stealthy fashion, then you are awarded with a Mark and Execute, if you choose to use it;o)

Jhraxlin
Jhraxlin

Looks amazing. Why did they trash Sam's look though? I kinda liked the brown coat long hair style from the first cut of this game.

tyrannus67
tyrannus67

this game looks awesome cant wait for it to come out. im pretty intrested in trying the multiplayer. i do wish it was for playstation console still.

Pimp120
Pimp120

Im glad that Sam is faster because in Double Agent, I hated the fact that he was so friggin slow

trystkl1826
trystkl1826

Bring it on. I'm ready to avenge Sarah's death.

aceball69
aceball69

im really hoping there will be an in game clock where it actually turns to night then back to day.

gameguy0697
gameguy0697

i want it ...maybe....if its not too hard like all the other splinter cell games

silentkiller11
silentkiller11

i love stealth-action games so this a must get. And i think they should include the three-sensor night-vision goggles coz in my opinion theyve bocome an icon to gamers everywhere.

adsyan
adsyan

Oh My days! I even lost my word! what a fantastic game ever! Can't wait to play it! So glad to find out it will be released in September.

ascalon94
ascalon94

Splinter Cell: Ultimatum more like lol, the demo at E3 looked great but a little easy. No matter what the game will be awesome

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

I am so glad Ubi completely overhauled this, as the original 2007 video looked awfull. It definately looks like the long delay has been worth it, i only wish more devs would be this bold and not cave in to the preasure.

XpichoX
XpichoX

this is the most aswom game ever!!!!!!!!

BiGG_SMiGG
BiGG_SMiGG

this game sounds like its gonna be good, although ive never been a fan of the splinter cell games, this sounds amazing.

Pwnd56
Pwnd56

love when he pulls that guy down, and no one notices.

Pwnd56
Pwnd56

Dang, he used to crawl slowly, now he's like a cheetah! Awesome action!

Scott_021
Scott_021

well I do have to say I have always enjoyed the montreal titles over shanghai. 1&3 over 2&4. as for no ps3 it doesn't surprise me since SC was originally an xbox exclusive

normpap
normpap

i wish this was also for ps3 grrrr i might have to get it for pc

gameguy0697
gameguy0697

that looks way better than the last one

njfirn
njfirn

I've played and beaten everyone, except pandora's tomorrow, and I can say Splinter Cell definatley needed a make over from the now overly crowded stealth genre. can't wait for fisher's next installment

irwin888
irwin888

Now THIS is the kind of Splinter Cell I've been waiting for!

Matthew_B
Matthew_B

Love Splinter Cell. Can't wait for this one. I like the new direction it's going in, I think it'll appeal to a wider gaming audience, I just hope it keeps old fans happy as well.

SniperJackson
SniperJackson

I have never played a splinter cell game but I will buy tihs one. looks GREAT

californigus
californigus

im a HUGE fan of Splinter cell, i´ll get it the first day for sure, im happy to see that Ubi changed the whole game because the 2007 one looked like GTA 4 and Assassins creed combined besides i didnt like the wanderer Sam... but now THIS is Sam Fisher THIS is Splinter cell!! i also find rude this becoming a 360-PC exclusive i mean why not the PS3??? (i have a GC, PS2 and 360)

raza3
raza3

i was waiting for this game

louis010
louis010

@mental_case_5 it isnt :D

JunkyMcMuffin
JunkyMcMuffin

Damn, its about time! I was starting to wonder if Sam had drifted off and become a drunk and killed himself! I kid, I kid....anyway, I am glad to see Sam back, and the new gameplay and visual style is welcome in my book. I like how they said he will improvise his old gadgets, like using a broken car mirror as a snake cam! I wonder what he will improvise as a sticky shocker!

costlywar
costlywar

This looks to be like a premium game! A+ to UBISOFT. EXCELLENT! SIMPLY THE BEST!

seacap313
seacap313

Summarised in three letters, wow :P

Echo-417
Echo-417

Sam Fisher has changed so freakin' much! Looks nothing like the original Sam. I reckon after Chaos Theory, it was starting to lose it. Hopefully, Conviction will be good.

mental_case_5
mental_case_5

This game better come out on the PS3! If not, I'm commiting suicide. (lol)

Console_Gamer13
Console_Gamer13

"Looks amazing. The first was really fun. Hope the second will be even better." @ CRYSIX wtf are you smoking? this is the 5th game

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

@maclehot, "Original was awesome, regretted pandora, loved chaos theory, hated double agent, now i'm hyped for conviction." I absoloutely agree!

patsy-cline
patsy-cline

This game looks like it will have one of the best stories of 2009.

CRYSIX
CRYSIX

Looks amazing. The first was really fun. Hope the second will be even better.

ManosSmooth
ManosSmooth

Looks amazing! On my PS2 I've owned every Splinter Cell Game so far and I seriously hope this one's coming out for PS3 as well and if yes hopefully the graphics & animations will be better in Conviction unlike PS3's Double Agent that was really slow!

Excedra
Excedra

This is one of those games that make me proud to own a 360 (i am not a fanboy)

gedbyz
gedbyz

Definetely going to get it.

maclehot
maclehot

splinter cell games should always be made by Montreal division of Ubisoft. I feel like I must skip a splinter cell game. Original was awesome, regretted pandora, loved chaos theory, hated double agent, now i'm hyped for conviction. Looks awesome and MTL FTW

blueguykisame
blueguykisame

looks fantastic! I honestly wish it would come to ps3 though since I'm planning on selling my 360 very soon to buy games for my ps3... hmm.. this honestly looks like a must play though... -thinks hard-

Ravi_1900
Ravi_1900

THe graphics looks incredible I think it looks incredible and the demo was running on 360 still it was running quite smooth and looked resonably detailed.

mehrdad1987
mehrdad1987

Really amazing, this is almost the best game at the moment, in my opinion

SSBFan12
SSBFan12

This game is going to be really amazing.

DrumahBoy
DrumahBoy

@ Sir_Demii I'm sorry to be a downer, but, it probably won't. It's kinda disappointing, I mean, I have the whole collection on my old Xbox. Then when the new-gen came along, I decided to get a PS3...*sigh*...at least I have an Alienware :P