It’s no secret that I love the Splinter Cell series from the first one through to Chaos Theory and the natural progression through to Double Agent. SCDA is definitely my favourite one of the series, as it’s evolved just enough to keep the gameplay fresh whilst at the same time keeping the known control layout and basics of any previous Splinter Cell title.
It’s been over three years that SCDA was released and if I remember correctly Splinter Cell Conviction was meant to be released in 2008, making it 1 1/2 years late. Back then the developers mentioned that they wanted to polish the game which I was happy with as I’d rather have a good game versus a rushed game. Then doubts started to appear as more images surfaced showing a game set in big open spaces and videos showing multiple kills. Yet I kept my faith thinking that the developers knew what they were doing as they had after all already shipped four titles.
The Splinter Cell Conviction demo came out this week and things have changed a lot.
- The controls have changed, crouch is now on the left bumper.
- It’s no longer possible to pick up and hide bodies which was a major feature before. It begs the question how found bodies will impact on the overall alert and rating.
- It’s no longer possible to switch the camera angle behind Sam’s body when having a weapon equipped forcing the player to use the coversystem.
- Climbing pipes has become more automatic; jumping on a pipe causes Sam to automatically pull up his legs.
- Sam feels lighter and faster, pretty much like the spies in SCDA’s multiplayer mode. This makes it easier to just go on a rampage versus having to carefully plan ahead.
- Enemies drop ammo. A lot of ammo.
- Some lights cannot be shot out, as in Sam won’t shoot if a certain light is targeted. This made the second part of the demo a bit annoying as I could have avoided all the enemies in the big room by climbing through the window, shooting out the light and sneaked past them while they were confused.
- It’s very light altogether, though that could just be the location in this demo.
- The indication on whether Sam can be detected has changed and been replaced by some generic shooter-like circle whenever he is seen by guards.
- Game information, such as new mission objectives is now displayed on the side of buildings or walls. Shiny, yes, but it completely takes any immersion away.
- Also taking away immersion is the constant reminder on every freaking box and low wall and railing that I really should be pressing A to jump. I don’t want to jump over it, I just want to sneak in the shadows, thanks.
- It’s now possible to build up some kind of ‘look at me, I’m pretending to be a super spy, yo’ meter by doing hand to hand kills which can be performed on enemies pretty much in front of other enemies without anyone caring. Building up the bar gives the option to mark enemies and kill them in some slow motion thing. Cause nothing screams super spy more than leaving hundreds of bodies behind, right?
- Unlimited pistol ammo. What?
- No night vision?!
So yes, I’m disappointed. I love the series and this is a game that’s got nothing to do with the original series apart from cashing in on the name. It’s a third person shooter that reminds me a lot of the Bourne films, but it’s not Splinter Cell. Splinter Cell is all about hiding in dark shadows, observing guard paths and then either sneaking past them or taking them out silently before hiding their bodies somewhere.
Sure, there are some interesting changes, for example the interrogation sequence with the videos playing on the side of the wall at the beginning was interesting, but at the same time there was more blood than the scene needed.
I understand that the series has to constantly evolve, but it’s clear that it’s moved on to allow more casual players to pick it up and play. It seems too easy and all the stealth elements have been taken away. Even storywise the game had to move on, but they could have taken and modified SCDA’s engine and taken the HQ missions for something else, like walking through the park meeting informants which the first screenshots indicated.
Also, I agree with this demo review:
For fans of the series, you’ll be in for a very different experience. I think Conviction may gain as many new fans from this change, as it loses. To be quite honest, this doesn’t even feel like a Splinter Cell game to me – it’s that different.
It’s a shame that any existing Splinter Cell fan will have to wait for a reboot of the series to come out in about ten years. Until then I guess I’ll be playing the others again.