Xbox splinter-cell-conviction-preview

Published on January 30th, 2010 | by prime

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Splinter Cell Conviction – Preview

Thank the good lord Ubisoft that Splinter Cell Conviction’s first draft was shelved. The ‘emo Sam’, the open Assassin’s Creed-style crowd, the cellphone… it felt like a franchise losing its identity. Now, only a month away from release, the new, improved and bristlingly confident Conviction is here. The difference is night and day.

We’ve already been blown away by the single-player campaign, but few could have expected such work to have gone into the co-op. this is a completely independent story, specifically structured and designed for two players to tackle in tandem, and it adds hours of gameplay to an already impressively chunky package.

The whole thing acts as a prequel to the events of the single player. Third Echelon has received intel that a ‘rogue element’ in the Russian military has acquired a small number of nuclear warheads, and intends on selling them on the black market. Set up, then, Archer and Kestrel, two super agents who are primed and ready to get the warheads back.

Archer and Kestrel, though, have never met. Archer is an American and Kestrel a Russian, and mush of the narrative tension comes from their begrudging trust of one another during a politically volcanic time. What you’ll quickly find out though, is that banter is kept to minimum. This is all about professionalism.

As in the single player, much of the combat operates on the predatory ‘mark and execute’ system. Either player can activate sonar goggles which allows them so see all the enemies in a room. As soon as an enemy can be seen, it can be ‘marked’ with a red arrow, with the idea being that the team of two marks all threats before formulating a plan.

Getting through Splinter Cell Conviction’s six-hour co-operative campaign is going to take patience, planning and an instinct for fast, reactive stealth.

Using communication, stealth and the environment (many walls and pillars can be scaled), Kestrel and Archer must take down the enemy however they see fit. You can pop them in the head with a silenced pistol, sneak up behind one and take them hostage, or if you’ve earned the right by racking up a few kills, carry out a ‘dual execute’, a cut-scene that immediately eliminates all targets.

It’s all about risk/reward. Do you move forward and grab enemies in order to earn ‘executes’, or simply hang back in the shadows, messing with the enemy AI in true Splinter Cell fashion?

Each time we played through the ‘bunker’ scenario, the AI reacted differently. There are no set paths or routines, so everything has to be reacted to on the fly. This creates some fantastic drama – particularly if one of your party is spotted. The agents can’t take much punishment, and if shot a few times, will go down and need rescuing. The downed player can even fake death in this situation before sitting up and popping off a few shots, but that’s another risk, as any other guards will blast the resurrected agent.

Getting through Splinter Cell Conviction’s six-hour co-operative campaign is going to take patience, planning and an instinct for fast, reactive stealth. Although if that doesn’t work, you can always go balls-out and embark on a shotgun charge with your partner. The game doesn’t discriminate against your play style, but we’d still recommend sticking to the shadows. It’s what Sam’s been teaching us all these years. And he knows best.

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