While Splinter Cell: Conviction is looking fantastic, all we've seen of the game so far is an impressive Electronic Entertainment Expo demo. There are still plenty of questions about whether the game can maintain that momentum throughout the course of its story, as well as how the narrative will actually come together. Well, some of those questions got answered in a recent play of a new level of the game, which is the same build that's being shown at this year's Tokyo Game Show.
Our level took place about three-quarters of the way through the game and was called EMP Staging Grounds. After being brought back to Washington, D.C. by government agency Third Echelon, Sam is investigating a bomb plot outside the city. Producer Alex Parizeau explained that this dual storyline will run alongside Sam's hunt to find his daughter's killer, with both feeding into a bigger overall conspiracy.
EMP Staging Grounds opened with Sam on a quiet road outside an industrial plant. As he approached the gates, the mission objectives were projected on the wall of the building: Interrogate Black Arrow Officer. Black Arrow is the terrorist group in control of the site. You start the level with three "mark and execute" points, allowing you to tap the right bumper to highlight three targets before pressing the Y button to automatically kill them with your pistol. With five targets patrolling the yard, we took one hostage by holding the X button and immediately executed the other three. We tapped X again to snap our hostage's neck, leaving us with just the officer to sneak up on and interrogate.
If you've seen the E3 demo, you'll remember the brutal interrogation scene in the men's bathroom. The one in this demo, however, turned up the brutality even higher. Sam roughly pinched his assailant's throat this time around, asking him for information about what Black Arrow was doing at the plant. The assailant resisted the interrogation, so we threw him up against a nearby car. He then fell to the ground before Sam kicked his face into the bumper. As he continued to resist interrogation, we kicked him in the groin and broke his nose with a headbutt. He finally gave in and drew a knife, but Sam automatically dodged the attack, grabbed the knife, and stabbed him through the hand, pinning him down as he screamed in agony.
It turns out that the group has kidnapped a scientist, who is helping the group with some sort of weapon technology. We headed inside to find out more, and thankfully, this time, we were equipped with more gadgets than in the E3 demo. Sam's trademark visor made a return, but it received an upgrade for its Conviction showing. When engaged, a pulse of light was sent rippling through the environment and enemies were highlighted as glowing white bodies. Sam also had a fancy new sticky camera, which could be thrown into a room so we could view it, make a noise, or even detonate it--all remotely.
Sadly, the Tokyo Game Show demo was very short, with only a few rooms of enemies to clear before it ended. However, it allowed us a great chance to try out some of Sam's other tech, such as the flash grenades, as well as the mark and execute moves, which are rewarded for taking out enemies using stealth. We also got to see a slightly tweaked visual interface over the E3 build. Now, mark and execute points are displayed as arrows onscreen rather than dots. Other than that, this was a confident and remarkably polished showing for the game, and one that's maintaining our high level of excitement for the release of the game on the PC and Xbox 360 in February 2010. Ubisoft promises that we'll get to see the multiplayer game "very soon," and we'll be using our newly found interrogation skills to bring you more on that just as soon as we can.