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E3 09: Sam Fisher goes Jack Bauer in new Splinter Cell

It seems that Ubisoft has told us around 37 times now that the next Splinter Cell really will be the one in which Sam Fisher is let off the leash. Not bad considering that there are only four games so far. Never once though, have we felt that a ‘Cell game has ever truly liberated the gruff-voiced old shadow-bastard.

But now that we’ve seen Splinter Cell: Conviction in action, we believe that the promise is finally coming true. Not only is Sam off the leash, but so is the stealth genre itself; seemingly free of all the irritating constrictions and niggles that have held it back before. Here’s why we think that Conviction just could be the most dynamic and exciting stealth game yet.

It’s ludicrously fast-paced. The problem with most stealth games is that the satisfaction of a slick infiltration always comes with the pay-off of very slow, overly methodical play. Great for tension and cerebral satisfaction, but not so hot for thrills. In Conviction, Sam is a bull in a badly-lit china shop. The whole experience, from level layout to equipment to enemy behaviour, seems set up to balance a considered, predatory approach with the scope for inertia and aggression.

Sam is now a devastating force. No more controlling a supposed hardcore badass who has to hide away like a little girl or else die.This time around, Sam looks like a cross between Marcus Fenix and Batman. We finally get to see what a government-trained skull-buster can really do.

Punishing close-up melee attacks and increased speed mean that being spotted now just means a change of pace rather than a swift death. Stealth might be his background, but he’s now more than deadly face-to-face too.

Sam’s new tricks do not mess around. The new skills and toys we’ve seen in Conviction have their origins in his old toolbox, but look geared up for poundingly visceral offence by comparison. The fibre-optic keyhole cam is replaced by a piece of broken glass, and while checking out the interior of a new room, it seems that Sam can now “program” in a couple of auto-kill gunshots to be executed on his targets upon busting in. No more skulking around outside like he’s waiting at the headmaster’s office.

And the old EMP gun? That weedy little lightbulb killer? How about an EMP grenade? Screw taking out one small light source and waiting three days for a weapon recharge. Now Sam can blow out a whole corridor and charge straight in for a hit-and-run beat down. Yep, we said hit-and-run. From the demo it looks like Sam can now move fairly quietly at speed, so the compromise between pace and safety should be nowhere near as pronounced as before.

The levels are your playground. There would be very little point in giving Sam all that dynamism and versatility if he was still constrained by the linear pathways of the old games. We’re now promised that each level will be a small sandbox, with Sam able to invent and carve his own path to his objective using a free choice of methods. With Sam having what looks like some seriously upgraded environmental manoeuvrability this time around, it sounds like a fast, massively brutal Hitman to us. We’re in.

Story, objectives, and even emotion are now evoked through simulated black and white projections beamed onto the in-game environment in real-time. They’re very cool and deeply atmospheric, but they’re not just there to make things look arty. Their main purpose is to allow swift and economic communication to the player without ever stilting the breakneck pace of a level.

No pop-up dialogue windows, and no stopping to concentrate on audio information. Just a brief, Prince of Persia-style fly-by at the start to show off the layout and build your anticipation, and then you and Sam are off the leash. And yes, we think that you really, really are this time.

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19 comments

  • freakinJINJO - June 28, 2009 10:56 p.m.

    Because the PS3 cant handle a game like this and it doesn't have a thing called xbox live. plus this game has always been a microsoft thing so dont count on it Cant wait for it to come out and modern warfare 2
  • tstewart33 - June 8, 2009 9:57 p.m.

    HAHAHAHA PS3 SUCKSSSSS!!!!! no Sammie for u guyz
  • Makk_Mizzy - June 7, 2009 11:39 a.m.

    I WILL ADMIT THAT I MYSELF LIKE THE STEALTHY VIBES IN MILITARY?GOVERNMENT GAMES BUT, I ALSO DIDN'T LIKE HOW IN THE SPLINTER CELLS' OVER THE YEARS HOW IF YOU WAS CAUGHT YOU COULDN'T LAY THE GOON HAND DOWN ON THE ENEMIES BUT, THIS SPLINTER CELL MAKES ME AMPED AND THANKS TO UFC, HALO 3, AND GEARS OF WAR 1&2 IM GONNA TAKE SAM FISHER TO AWHOLE NOTHER LEVEL OF KICK A$$!!!! BELIEVE DAT!!!!
  • wasabi31 - June 6, 2009 2:12 a.m.

    but you people have to remember, sam isn't going to be all stealthy this time around because hes on the run from the government. so he has to use more lethal force now
  • Randomnumba - June 5, 2009 7:22 p.m.

    i really wanted the older conviction were you hid in the crowds but this looks wicked fun.
  • Metalhead347 - June 4, 2009 9:12 p.m.

    Looks Awesome I love splinter cell I saw the demo being played I loved the very cinematic mark and kill thing and the whole sandbox level like the hitman games its combing 2 games I love and the projecting like Sam's flashbacks and objectives on the wall will be so f-ing cool I cant wait for this game I want it!!!
  • vitoruss - June 4, 2009 7:24 p.m.

    Splinter Cell: Double Agent was, in my opinion, one of the best games ever made. I had a blast every moment in it. This game, while looking like a ton of fun, looks totally watered down and not nearly as hardcore as the previous Splinter Cell games. The whole point of the Splinter Cell games was realistic spy action, not any crazy off-the-wall Metal Gear Solid bullshit. In this video you see Sam smash a door and run up and shoot like, 6 guys, in one room immediately. That shouldn't be what Splinter Cell is about! If Splinter Cell decides to be as mainstream as this, who can we rely on to bring as many thrills as we saw in "Double Agent"? They should just make another Double Agent game. Seriously. Although I'll probably wind up buying it and being pleasantly surprised...
  • Val24 - July 2, 2009 9:55 p.m.

    @ freakinJIMJO Well, okay, PS3 may not have XBOX Live! But at least we don't have to pay for our PSN, it's absolutely free! So, HA!
  • GamingDude571 - June 7, 2009 7:19 p.m.

    Oh yea! this game looks freakin badass. I liked the old splinter cell game's but it always did feel slow.This should hopefully be the end of that and the start of a sneaky R@pe machine
  • CortezCardinal - June 7, 2009 5:25 p.m.

    @Addy In the previews ive seen it think hes done away with them becasue hes not in third echolon anymore.
  • Addy - June 7, 2009 4:12 p.m.

    Looks Ace. One question though: Where are his night/thermal goggles? There not seen once in that vid.
  • oryandymackie - June 5, 2009 7:15 p.m.

    I don't think I'll be buying this.... I prefer the REAL stealth SC's. Keeping one eye on a wandering enemy and then going "Oh god he's coming towards us he's coming fast!" to whoever I'm playing with was fun. Plus throwing bottles for the fun of it to distract and unsettle people was great fun.
  • CortezCardinal - June 5, 2009 5:55 p.m.

    It has the story elements that I liked from max payne and the sweetness from hitman blood money.
  • w0lf - June 5, 2009 8:29 a.m.

    ah this looks so good. the original splinter cell never was for me, but i loved Double Agent and the thought that u could decide on sam's actions instead of the old linearity. the new one looks so much better. cheers GR
  • blocpartier - June 5, 2009 6:15 a.m.

    Awesome! I loved the original Splinter Cell the most, but this looks beyond what I thought it would be. It's like Jason Bourne meets Sam Fisher.
  • jman314 - June 5, 2009 2:40 a.m.

    finally a splinter cell game I'm looking forward to
  • lovinmyps3 - June 5, 2009 1:53 a.m.

    i really hope this comes to ps3. i bet it will in a couple months because some might remember that the original splinter cell and its sequel pandora tomorrow were supposedly xbox exclusives and we got both of those. i really hope it does cause im a big fan of the series (i even read the very poorly written books) and this looks to be a really good addition to the series.
  • nadrewod999 - June 4, 2009 5:52 p.m.

    It isn't coming to PS3 FOR NOW! (Just like multiplayer or DLC for Infamous)
  • helix92 - June 4, 2009 5:37 p.m.

    First!!! Why isn't it coming to PS3???

Showing 1-19 of 19 comments

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