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Splinter Cell: Conviction Preview

publisher: Ubisoft
developer: Ubisoft Montreal
genre: Action Adventure

PIV 1800, 1.5GB RAM, 10GB HDD, 256MB video card
ESRB rating: M

release date: Apr 27, 10
» All About Splinter Cell: Conviction on ActionTrip

We're evidently gonna wait forever until new IPs start hitting the market. Publishers haven't given up on churning out as many additions to their popular franchises as possible. Ubisoft, for one, is set on continuing its well-known stealthy action game Splinter Cell, introducing us to a reworked character of Sam Fisher. Ubisoft Montreal, the development studio behind the project, aims to deliver certain innovative elements to Splinter Cell in an effort to improve upon the gameplay mechanics, giving the whole franchise a unique new edge. (*rolls eyes* Not again... - 2Lions)

This time around, Splinter Cell comes in a new package, one that gives Sam Fisher, the elite agent working for the National Security Agency (NSA), an entirely new image. In Splinter Cell: Conviction, instead of lurking in the shadows and completing crucial missions for the NSA, the familiar male protagonist, is now a fugitive. If you can recall, in Double Agent, Sam was sent to infiltrate a terrorist organization, but he ended up being pursued by the NSA, FBI and, of course, by the cops. Conviction starts two years after all this. Being hunted by his former employer, Sam is hardly the same guy. With a rundown appearance (longer hair and full beard) and common clothing, he is a different person altogether, without even the slightest resemblance to the cat-suited operative with a night vision headset. Mind you, the new look helps him blend in and that comes in handy too, since Sam is forced to make his way through the crowded districts of Washington D.C. where he travels in the hope of finding a way to clear his name.

Speaking of crowds, Sam will know how to use them to distract enemies. Sometimes he'll go through areas where more than 100 NPCs walk every which way. When he comes across a guarded entrance, he'll quickly cause a distraction by nabbing someone's laptop and casually walking away. An understandable commotion ensues. Infuriated by this gesture, people start shouting at him, which in turn draws the attention of the entrance guards. In a swift maneuver to outsmart his opponents, Sam drops the laptop and carefully walks through the crowd to reach the unmanned entryway. In these situations, blowing your cover is an option, but hardly a practical one... which is where Sam's MP-5 comes in (the one he carries under his coat). So, just gun down the guards and be on your way. Of course, such aggressive moves bring about even more commotion, so it may not be such a good idea.

In line with the main character's new exterior, comes a complete visual makeover as well as a general shift in design, stepping away from Splinter Cell's conventional gameplay (which strongly emphasized sneaking around and carrying out tasks as quietly as possible). Unlike before, the player's actions are more obvious and aggressive, involving plenty of repercussions and a variety of reactions from NPCs. Taking radical new steps in terms of design, also means the game had to change its mechanics, which eventually made the developers go from "Teen" rating to "Mature". Hm, we have yet to see how that one will work out.

Anyway, once Sam Fisher arrives to D.C., he's going to need all the help he can get. First off, he may need to avoid authorities. As mentioned, crowds and passers-by will play a huge role in this. In a particular mission, Sam is required to face threats without resorting to the usual tiptoeing through shadows. The game will have you, for example, heading into an office to hack into four servers. Security guards roam the premises, constantly patrolling across multiple floors. These sentries remain cool until Sam hacks the first server. With each hacked server, enemy threat increases, eventually all hell breaks loose. Pinpointing his location, the guards soon enclose on the fugitive to a point where a confrontation becomes inevitable. During such segments, you'll be able to use any means necessary to overcome or distract enemies - for example, it's possible to scatter papers off of desks straight into a guard's face or you may grab a chair to hit him with it. Tipping over tables is also an option and makes for a decent cover and a good way to barricade doors. Another helpful thing is being able to snatch walkie-talkies from defeated guards and listen in on the enemy to learn how the search is going.

As far as Sam's usual gadgets are concerned, players may look forward to having a significant range of useful items and weapons at their disposal. However, since you're on your own, without the government to provide the goods, most of the supplies and equipment will come from the black market. That means you shouldn't expect the typical high-tech stuff from earlier titles.

For the moment, we don't know much about combat, but the basic hand-to-hand stuff is definitely there. Besides boxing or wrestling with enemies, the developers at Ubisoft Montreal are working hard to incorporate a huge diversity of finishing moves. For instance, why bother with complex combos if it's easier to finish off an enemy with the simplest move? In that respect, seizing people by their legs and throwing them over balconies will undoubtedly be in the game. There are other ways, such as handcuffing your opponent to a railing and then shoving him down a staircase. The designers are still working on the combat and have promised some awesome innovations in that particular aspect of gameplay.

Ubi was very careful not to let any further details slip about the game at this time. PC and X360 versions are currently in the making, but you can count the PS3 edition out for the moment. No firm release dates were established either, but we expect to find out more soon. Meanwhile, we hope this little glimpse was enough to reintroduce you to the ever-popular character of Sam Fisher.



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