XboxPulse.com has had the good fortune of spending a few moments with Splinter Cell Conviction at CES 2010, and at Microsoft’s X10, but those were mere minutes with a game that really deserves solid hands-on time to explore the depth of the various gameplay options. Fortunately, we were given a chance to get a much closer and intimate look at Conviction.
In the San Francisco offices of Ubisoft, Game Director Patrick Reading and Co-Op Designer Julien Lamoureux invited game journalists to sit down and spend some quality time with the upcoming franchise sequel, Splinter Cell Conviction. A single-player demo of Conviction was recently released over the Xbox Live Marketplace, but what Reading and Lamoureux want players to know is that the multiplayer components to the game are deeper and more intense than in any previous version of Splinter Cell.
Players can see for themselves from the short demo that graphical fidelity and animations have seen tremendous upgrades. From the amount of details in Sam Fisher’s face, to the way his hands react against walls and objects used as cover, and how Fisher automatically ducks under a helicopter wing when a player attempts to walk through it, Conviction is visually more advanced than any of the previous titles in the series.
One of the more notable trends in gaming of recent is the inclusion of co-operative multiplayer modes, and in particular, the obligatory “horde” mode. Horde mode, made prominent by games like Gears of War 2, Left for Dead, and Halo 3: ODST, pits teams of players in a game of survival against waves of oncoming A.I. enemies. Though it is not a first-person shooter, Conviction features its own version of horde mode, but mixes things up with four different varieties.
The four variations of Conviction’s horde mode are more refined than those we’ve seen by most FPS titles, due primarily to the stealth mechanics in the game. Each of the (two-player max) modes allow each player to take on the role of an international covert operations agent, equipped with the same tools and skills Fisher possesses. So just like in the single-player campaign, players will be able to sneak in the shadows, climb pipes, and hang over ledges to quietly kill enemies.
In the Hunter game mode, the objective for players is to eliminate all enemies in each level or zone, but any detection of the players will lead the A.I. to call in more reinforcements, so the goal really is to engage the enemy as stealthily as possible.
The Last Stand mode is more of a traditional horde mode fare, but with a twist. Players must protect an EMP bomb which is placed in a fixed location against waves of enemies that get smarter and tougher with each wave. The EMP can be repaired if any damage is inflicted upon it, so teamwork is absolutely essential to distract enemies to allow repairs to take place.
Face-Off is a competitive adversarial mode where two players will battle each other in a map populated with A.I. enemies gunning for both of them. Using the A.I. here to lure in or defeat an opponent adds a nice level of depth.
Lastly, there’s Infiltration, which is unlocked through Ubisoft’s Uplay system (gain Uplay points just by playing the game, which accumulate to unlock Infiltration and other unannounced goodies). In this mode, players must kill all enemies without detection, but this time, players also have security systems to evade.
Aside from these four Deniable Ops missions, there is the Prologue campaign mode that introduces two new characters and additional settings, allowing two gamers to engage in five to six hours of gameplay.
To top off these multiplayer modes, Conviction includes the Persistent Elite Creation System (PEC), which allows players to earn points through gameplay challenges to upgrade weapon, gadgets, and even uniforms and skins. Buffing up a character will be even be visually represented by extra ammo or gadget packs, so in addition to real practical effects, the player’s character will be graphically distinguishable based on the upgrades unlocked.
The Splinter Cell franchise started out as one of the greatest single player experiences on the Xbox platform, and with Conviction, there is little doubt that this series will be one of the most played games over Xbox Live. Splinter Cell Conviction hits store shelves on April 13, 2010. An Xbox 360 Splinter Cell Conviction special edition bundle will also launch on April 13, 2010. For more information, check out Conviction’s official website.