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- The Long Dark
It's year 2008 and Sam Fisher is back. Doesn't this guy ever get too old, or too tired? Doesn't he ever feel an aching in his joints from all the flips, cliff hanging, wall-scaling and other acrobatics? Isn't he prone to arthritis like the rest of the old geezers? Ubisoft will like to have us believe otherwise and from what I've seen of Splinter Cell 3 at the big show, it seems they're actually right.
Anyway, to cut right to the chase, we were shown off two single-player levels and a co-op multiplayer level that will have you and a buddy infiltrating a building by giving each other a helping hand ... any way you see fit.
Softly creeping out of the shadows, comes the one and only Sam Fisher!
Geez, these guys never bother to look behind their backs.
So what exactly is new with good-old (and I do mean old) Sam Fisher. First of all, the tentatively titled Splinter Cell 3 is under development by the team that brought us the original game, Ubisoft Montreal. And let me tell you, Bubba, they know their Splinter Cell shit! It's amazing how proficient they were at showing off the cool new in game feature. It makes you wonder how long this one has been in development. Seeing how Pandora Tomorrow was coded by Ubisoft Shanghai it would be reasonable to assume that Ubisoft Montreal has been working for quite some time on this one.
Seeing how SC 3 is supposed to see the light of day in November, and how it's a multi-platform title naturally, in all likelihood, players won't be introduced to any revolutionary changes in the franchise. At a glance, seeing the game in action definitely has you thinking that you're playing just a slightly visually enhanced Pandora Tomorrow game. OK, so we all know the limitations of the current console technology, so this shouldn't come as a huge shock to anyone. Before I get into probably the biggest visual enhancement, let me just say that aside from some softer lighting, more detail in the background, and good use of normal mapping to make Sam Fisher appear more realistic, the visual integrity of the game world remains consistent with the previous installments. Those of you who played any of the preceding Splinter Cell games will feel right at home with this one. The improvement in the animation, the developers claim it's there, but I found it hardly noticeable.
The biggest visual enhancement in Splinter Cell 3 comes with the addition of excellently implemented weather effects. These weather effects include heavy rain and stuff like plump raindrops making ripples in the puddles. In addition the rain will get your character and the enemy AI soaking wet, making their clothes slick with rain - this being achieved through the use of dynamic specular mapping.
Aside from having a merely cosmetic effect, the heavy rain will also influence the enemy AI. If it starts raining cats and dogs, the bad guys will get out of the rain and look for warm and dry shelter. Sometimes, that will also mean that they'll look for warm, dry and DARK shelter, giving the player a clear incentive as to what should be their course of action.
Besides the weather effects, possibly the biggest single-player addition to the game is Sam's use of a deadly blade. Yep, you'll finally get to eviscerate the bad guys in fun and inventive ways. You'll be able to creep up behind them, grab them and then feel the insides of their stomach with your knife. Recently released artwork also revealed that you'll be able to hang by a rope behind them and then either use your knife to slit their throat or wring their neck - like Sam had done to a janitor in the demonstration. Other neat deadly moves that Sam will be able to perform include hanging from a ledge and then lunging forward with your arm to grab the unsuspecting bad guy from the front and throw him over the edge, hanging on ropes upside down like a bat, and so on. Besides being used as a tool for killing you'll also get to use your knife to open a thin veil of insulation foam, cut through transparent plastic sheeting wall, and so on.
The final part of the demonstration showed off some nifty co-op multiplayer gameplay. Basically, two spies were supposed to get into a room on top of a glass covered skyscraper and download some classified computer data. The coolest thing about this infiltration is that you and your teammate will get to help each other out by having one hoist the other over a tall obstacle or even climb atop of one another to get to a ledge high up. Co-op might very well be one of the coolest aspects of Splinter Cell 3.
In a nutshell, none of the new features that the developers have highlighted are groundbreaking in any sense of the word. Still, I'm confident that Ubisoft Montreal knows what they're doing and that they'll be able to deliver a thoroughly enjoyable and highly polished, though not necessarily terribly original gameplay experience.
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