Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction
Splinter Cell: Conviction Hands On - Pushing the Sandbox Aspect to its Limits
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You’d be forgiven for thinking that Ubisoft had cut out the sandbox aspect of Splinter Cell: Conviction if you’d been watching the E3 coverage closely. 3 times, count it, had we seen the same walkthrough done in exactly the same way in LA, so when Ubisoft invited us over to their UK HQ with free reign over Sam Fisher, we were determined to put the sandbox aspect to the test.

The sandbox element in Splinter Cell: Conviction is not indicative of a traditional sandbox title - a massive open world where you choose what you want to do and when to do it. There is a linear story and the sandbox element is represented in the choices you make in each mission. In other words, here’s your environment, there’s your target ... good luck Sam, get the job done. The stealthy way seems the easiest from what we experienced, but isn’t that always the way? You’re not limited to that approach though, and if you want – like we did on numerous occasions – you can barge in the front door and fight your opponents face-to-face. You’ll still need to be clever though with this approach and use the environment to your advantage, because spend too much time in plain sight and you’ll be ripped to shreds.
You’ll be glad to hear that the controls in Conviction are just as smooth and responsive as they have been in the past, except that Sam now seems to be a lot quicker on his toes. You can essentially get away with just using two buttons; A to jump and X to initiate an authentic Krav Maga takedown, just so long as you stick to the shadows. Of course, you can shoot with the right trigger as well, and my only qualm would be the split second delay that it took between you pressing the trigger and Sam shooting his gun. Hopefully that will be tweaked between now and the launch next year.

A big part of Conviction as Ubisoft has said, is putting the power of Sam Fisher in your hands, which is where the Mark (RB) and Execute (Y) feature comes in. Once you’ve marked your targets or points of interest to shoot (you can cancel them with LB if you’re not happy), you can trigger the automated crushing blow with Y. If you’re feeling fancy as well, you can hold the Y for a slow mo execution for your final target. However, once your execute is gone, you have to earn it back with a close-quarters takedown. Admittedly, I did find myself almost pandering to the mechanic, looking to use it at every turn, but that’s up to the player, and you can approach the game as if it didn’t exist if you so wish. That goes for the rest of the game as well; at its heart, Conviction is still a Splinter Cell title and if you want to hide in the shadows, turn off lights or shoot them out to cloak your arrival, you can do just that. That being said, there is no doubting that this new gameplay mechanic is pure unadulterated fun.

A question so many people have been asking since the E3 unveiling is, “can you play it through totally stealthy?” Without being seen and without some sort of conflict – I’d say no, well not the Malta level anyway. But you can stay in the shadows and take down your foes without alerting the rest of the crew. The real fun comes through the simple task of choosing which way to tackle the situation. As it stood, there were two entrances into the King George mansion – the main door and the side window, but how you get past the guards on the front and side gate is entirely up to you ... and this is where the sandbox element comes into its own.

Having a pretty extensive hands on allowed me to run through the E3 level around 8 times or so; attempting a new route each time, all successfully may I add. I started trying to recreate the E3 attempt, but failed on numerous occasions – they definitely made it look easy, but the real fun started when I experimented on how to distract the guards outside the mansion. On one attempt I found that throwing an EMP grenade into a market stall managed to cause a bit of a fuss with the locals and as the crowd vacated the scene, the guards came to investigate. It was at that point I was able to sneak past them and get inside the building with no alerts. Similarly on my next playthrough, I pulled a gun out in the crowd which also caused a bit of a panic. This time, I took a different approach though and as the crowd ran past the King George mansion, I decided to run with them, effectively disguising myself in the crowd and running straight past the guards as if I was a local. It was serious poetry in motion and when the game ships next year, it is something that everyone must try. You can’t help but look smug. However that smug look was quickly wiped from my face when I was seen entering the mansion. The ploy would have been a successful one as well if I just taken care after the cunning diversion ... no problems there though, a quick Mark and Execute later and I’m in the building.

After travelling through the mansion interior numerous times, the AI on the guards seemed to be responsive and intuitive enough. The new Last Known Position mechanic – which indicates Fisher’s last position with a translucent outline – made it a little too easy to outsmart them though. There seemed to be no set patrol patterns when they were on to you and the only thing that seemed scripted was where they started. The guards even have contextual responses; you’ll find some call you out acting the big man, some calling for backup and some even fearing the impending confrontation with the mighty Sam Fisher whose reputation precedes him.
As far as gadgets goes, whilst Fisher is effectively rogue now, you don’t start off with a huge range of fancy gadgets. In the build we went hands on with however, we were equipped with portable EMP devices (a device which powers down any electronic device in a certain range), sticky cameras (although I never found myself using them) and EMP grenades which are as they sound. All of these are easily selected with the d-pad and deployed with the B button. Pretty damn simple. I have a feeling that these may not be used in the Malta level in the final build because being so early on, how does Sam have access to these gadgets? We’re still praying for night vision and thermal vision at some point or another in Conviction because let’s be honest, it wouldn’t quite feel like Splinter Cell without them. It’s like Halo without Sticky Grenades, or Gears of War without Lancers.

Any sort of doubts that we had for Splinter Cell: Conviction after E3’s rather samey showing of the title, were put to rest with this hands on. It’s clear after 8 playthroughs of the same level, that the game does give you plenty of choice and has an immense amount of replayability – if I can do the same level so many times in a row, and still want to do it again after, then you know something is right. The Mark and Execute feature does make for an easier game at times as does the Last Known Position, but it also makes for a more tactical game, and it doesn’t seem to get stale. We’d like to think that as we get further in, the challenge will ramp up ten-fold anyway and they won’t seem too overpowering. It will be interesting to see the game’s direction in more open and expansive environments and it definitely feels more Chaos Theory-esque than Double Agent which frankly, is just what the doctor ordered.

Splinter Cell Conviction is now scheduled for a 2010 release on PC and Xbox 360.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 439
Comment #1 by Craphex
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 03:43:09 AM
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Had no idea this was a sandbox game :P looks good!

Forum Posts: 161
Comment #2 by Mad Man
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 03:43:59 AM
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This game will be amazing.

Forum Posts: 46
Comment #3 by Major Pancakes
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 03:51:27 AM
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"definitely feels more Chaos Theory-esque than Double Agent"

Sold on that one statement.

Forum Posts: 78
Comment #4 by hardy86
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 03:54:57 AM
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i can not wait for this game i think its gonna b amazing does the story continue from double agent

Forum Posts: 123
Comment #5 by Chapsman
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 04:12:27 AM
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this game has taken so long to come out it needs to be amazing!

Forum Posts: 116
Comment #6 by Angelky
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 04:13:27 AM
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I to diffently can't wait for this game,i been waiting for the next installment for splintercell since i first heard about it. sweetness

Forum Posts: 41
Comment #7 by DipCheese83
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 04:13:48 AM
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@4 Yes it kind of does. I'm pretty sure it's mostly about Sam trying to find out who killed his daughter (who died in Double Agent)

Forum Posts: 14797
Comment #8 by Webb [STAFF]
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 04:16:06 AM
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@#7 - Correctamundo.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #9 by B0RNx0Fx0SIRIS
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 05:22:43 AM
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double agent was ok...this will top by 1000x!

Forum Posts: 6121
Comment #10 by Crimson Ridley
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 05:25:18 AM
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That screenshot, the top one, where it says "Infiltrate The Mansion" on the wall; is that how your objectives will be shown, as part of the environment? Because if so, that'd be amazing!

Forum Posts: 8527
Comment #11 by Nozza XBA
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 05:30:07 AM
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Kl .. iv got high hopes for this.

Played all SC and never been dissapointed!

Forum Posts: 14797
Comment #12 by Webb [STAFF]
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 05:39:03 AM
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@#10- Tis indeed. Same with the cutscenes.

Forum Posts: 8
Comment #13 by The Guava Man
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 05:41:31 AM
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@10 yes it is haven't u seen the E3 trailer

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Comment #14 by Crimson Ridley
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 05:42:20 AM
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That's awesome then. But let's hope it works well and you can't accidentally miss it by turning around at the wrong time. Hopefully, it'll be projected onto whatever you're facing to prevent that.

This game looks better each time information is released, can't wait to play it!

Forum Posts: 6121
Comment #15 by Crimson Ridley
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 05:43:11 AM
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Oh @13, no I haven't, I missed most of the E3 stuff on every game.

Forum Posts: 14797
Comment #17 by Webb [STAFF]
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 06:26:01 AM
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@#15 - Callum, check out my impressions from E3 then. First link in the first sentence. Talks about it there.

You can't miss them either, it's projected on to multiple walls. The bathroom interrogation scene at the beginning has it on no less than 3 walls.

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #18 by t1m2oo8---
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 06:56:17 AM
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i knew it was gna b sandbox, this is a good feature to the game, like theres ure target! go get it. hopefully tho they use this well, so u dont find ure going down the same route to get to ure objective in the end anyway. all in all i am really lookin forward to this game, more thn COD:MW2!!! :S

Forum Posts: 30
Comment #19 by Astrex
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 07:29:51 AM
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I got to admit this game is becoming more and more greater with every bit of news... can't wait!

Forum Posts: 2286
Comment #20 by Daiphyer.
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 07:31:05 AM
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This game is gonna kick so much ass! Hope the camera lives up to hopes.

Forum Posts: 1386
Comment #21 by Elit3 m0nkey
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 08:22:08 AM
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This better be worth the wait. But I have hope in Ubi Montreal.

Forum Posts: 162
Comment #22 by IIIII Matt IIIII
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 08:31:43 AM
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Wow 8 times on the same level and u still wanna do it again, this has gotta be a must buy

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #23 by slut monkey
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 08:44:16 AM
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Forum Posts: 27
Comment #24 by SolidSnake2000
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 08:54:18 AM
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Ubisoft really should stop delaying this, i have been waiting for this since Feb, 2007!, or 2008, which ever was the original release date.

Forum Posts: 83
Comment #25 by totalstranger
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 09:15:39 AM
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this is looking pretty sweet, kind of like hitman

Forum Posts: 14
Comment #26 by NaughtyNinja74
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 10:07:04 AM
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@25 hitman has nothing on this game

I've been waiting so long for this game...whats it been three/four years since Double Agent came out

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #27 by Fata1Stryke
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 10:36:19 AM
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Damn, now I'm all excited about this again. No more delays, plz?

Forum Posts: 168
Comment #28 by Elit3Ski11s
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 10:49:30 AM
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If there is another delay its going to get forgotten,(kida like Alan Wake, yes i said it) i was really hoping to be playing this, this year. Oh well im going to get it no matter what, i have played them all on pc.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #29 by TwiceAzzNice
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 11:46:23 AM
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The game looks good, good that they changed the way he looked because i don't wanna be controlling a tramp lol

Forum Posts: 13
Comment #30 by Steve-o85
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 01:07:18 PM
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this game looks amazing!!! cant wait for it!!

Forum Posts: 42
Comment #31 by Cargot35
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 02:49:45 PM
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i want

Forum Posts: 12
Comment #32 by McKillaboy
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 03:33:16 PM
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I'm a huge Splinter Cell fan - I've been following the series since the demo for the first one got released. And I really hope this one doesn't let me down like Double Agent did.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #33 by dsouzadragon7
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 03:38:38 PM
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amazing just simply amazing

Forum Posts: 103
Comment #34 by mcgive
Friday, August 14, 2009 @ 07:05:22 PM
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Double Agent was pretty lame imo, chaos theory was better.

Forum Posts: 199
Comment #35 by Night45Fox
Saturday, August 15, 2009 @ 01:23:22 AM
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What was everybody's tiff with Double Agent, I thought it wasn't nearly as good as Chao's Theory but was still a great game.

The way people talk about it it like it slapped their grand mother in the face and called her a whore, at least in my case this did not happen.

Forum Posts: 137
Comment #36 by Voxael
Saturday, August 15, 2009 @ 04:27:10 AM
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@35 I agree totally. Double Agent might not have been "traditional" Splinter Cell but I had a heap of fun with it when I played through - one of my favourite PS2 games as a matter of fact.

This was pretty much my experience with the demo at a Ubisoft night I attended for work - I played everything on offer (except Soul Calibre) but this was the only demo I kept coming back to ...

I walked into the night excited about Assassin's Creed 2 and walked out only being able to talk about Splinter Cell: Conviction.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #37 by maaad360
Sunday, August 16, 2009 @ 06:53:51 AM
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i HOPE this will be better than SC Double Agent,which disappointed me in many cases. Chaos Theory was legend!

Forum Posts: 17
Comment #38 by emeraldgsl
Sunday, August 16, 2009 @ 01:11:31 PM
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I enjoyed the demo at Ubi night that I attended. It was pretty cool and kept my interest. I also got to try an unreleased ACII demo which was also good. Definately surpassed my expectations.

Forum Posts: 247
Comment #39 by Youngtone 03
Sunday, August 16, 2009 @ 01:20:57 PM
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this game looks really good

Forum Posts: 165
Comment #40 by helipilot22
Monday, August 17, 2009 @ 04:15:01 AM
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will be the best game this gen, end of story.

Forum Posts: 101
Comment #41 by Baptized N Fire
Monday, August 17, 2009 @ 07:33:03 PM
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I have been waiting and waiting for this game to come out. Now it seems like it is so close. Please no more delays Ubisoft.

Forum Posts: 1386
Comment #42 by Elit3 m0nkey
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 @ 03:12:58 PM
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@36 Depends on which version you are talking about. The PS2/Original Xbox version were much better than the Xbox 360/PS3 version (not that they were bad just the last gen versions were better).

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #43 by burnedair
Thursday, August 20, 2009 @ 10:19:33 AM
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Forum Posts: 137
Comment #44 by Voxael
Sunday, August 23, 2009 @ 04:35:03 AM
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I thought they were all the same game, just ported on to then-next gen systems? Did I miss like a totally different game for the 360?

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Game Info
Ubisoft Montreal


US April 13, 2010
Europe April 16, 2010

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