Saturday, March 27, 2010

Splinter Cell: Conviction Demo Impressions

Splinter Cell: Conviction is the latest in the long Splinter Cell series that surrounds Sam Fisher, the human version of a Swiss army knife, always with the right tool for whatever espionage job you need done. A lot has been done to up the cinematic qualities of Splinter Cell while still maintaining that all that sneaky stuff gamers have gotten used to.

A demo is up on Xbox Live, and since I couldn't get my hands on the game at E3 2009, though there was a constant demo with color commentary on the show floor, I figured I'd check out the game at home. The demo covers a quick interrogation scene and a warehouse infiltration. Here are my thoughts:

//Brutality seems to be the soup du jour when it comes to the interrogation scenes. Sam has no problems slamming his perp's head into urinals, sinks, and the stall door. I thought these destructivle environments worked well as a sort of interactive cut scene. Of course, I haven't played the full game, but the interrogation really is little other than a cut scene with some player input attached. Why do gamers complain about the hour long cutscenes in Metal Gear Solid 4? Because we play games so that we have control, so that we have input. Obviously in giving people that control, Ubisoft is maintaining a link between Sam and the player. I'm always a fan of deepening that link and making the experience more profound in games.
//I'll be honest, I've never played a Splinter Cell game before. Maybe that allows me a clear view of things, made it clouds my opinion. I guess I just never found the patience to sit and wait, to memorize enemy movement, to strike at the proper time so as not to be seen. All of that, along with the tense situations espionage games put you in, really had me jumping too soon. Conviction's gimick is the execution manuevar, which allows you to target multiple enemies after performing a hand to hand take down. This puts a lot more emphasis on the player's movement than it does the enemy AI's. To me, and Mike Fahey of Kotaku, that's a good thing. To me, games are about activity. Players are most excited about what they do and what the results of those actions are, rather than what happens before the player makes his or her move. I count myself among those players.
//I usually don't find a reason to play a demo a second time if it doesn't hook me in any way. I played the Crackdown demo easily 10 times before that game's release in 2007. I have yet to replay the Just Cause 2 demo. I played the Conviction demo twice before removing it from my hard drive. Obviously the game play hooked me, and there's a different way of attacking enemies or messing with them before taking them down, but the demo was still extemely short and linear. Two playthroughs was more than I would think I could have spent on the demo. In a way, that says something very positive about Conviction. I'd really like to play more of the game, but I'm still not sure if I'd spend $60 on the title if there isn't a lot more to it.

Splinter Cell: Conviction lands on April 13th, 2010 and is exclusive to the Xbox 360.

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