Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction • Page 3

Sneak preview.

Pulling off this sort of action also earns me partial completion of one of the game's tracked rewards - taking down an enemy while he's investigating your last-known position. These non-gamerscore 'achievements' not only encourage players to fully utilise Sam's repertoire of trickery, but once completed they provide the player with a points reward to spend on the upgrades which form the Persistent Elite Creation aspect of the game.

Accessed in-mission from handy weapons caches, or from the opening menus, this system allows players to customise weaponry, clothing, gadgets or body armour to spruce up performance. Both these points and the upgrades you buy with them then carry through to both the co-op prologue and multiplayer modes of the game.

Speaking of multiplayer, the latest build also offers us the opportunity to have a crack at the Deniable Ops missions for the first time. These modes are available as one or two player, split-screen or online, and come in four flavours. Hunter is a room-clearing mode, seeing you downing tangos like a man on his way to pretty serious diabetes. Detection isn't a disaster, but being seen will summon a wave of reinforcements. The flipside of this is Infiltration mode - Conviction's olive branch to the stealthing elite - where even momentary detection is the end of the road.

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It isn't long before a few old friends turn up.

Last Stand mode sits you in front an experimental EMP device, videogaming's new nuke, as waves of foes attempt to destroy it. Let them damage it irrevocably and you'll be back at the Job Centre, blood-soaked field dressing in one hand and P45 in the other. Lastly comes Face Off, the only confrontation mode on offer, which gives Hunter a new twist by making each other viable targets along with the AI goons.

Multiplayer adds a couple of new aces to the deck too, most useful of which is the sonar detector. Activating this with the d-pad will fling out a pulse which detects all enemies, clouding your vision with interference as it does so. These targets can then be marked with RB, even through walls, to be tracked ready for execution when you're close enough.

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Getting downed in co-op gives the option to nut-up or shut up, playing dead until you're rescued or taking pot-shots with a pistol.

Two-player modes offer another nice touch when an enemy gets the upper hand in close combat, reversing the status quo by grabbing the player as a meatshield. Once you're held, a warning and direction indicator flashes on your buddy's screen, letting them work their way close to attempt a rescue. Once they do you can execute that most precious of buddy-movie moments, tapping B to slam an elbow into your captor's face or stomach, giving the other player room to take a headshot. Mis-time your blow and you'll anger whoever's holding you into a tighter grip, do it again and they're likely to drop you, minus a significant quantity of brain and skull.

It's another indicator of Conviction's new, more forgiving attitude, another page taken from the big book of films. Fisher's new adventure is more accessible, less pernickety, but less complex doesn't necessarily mean less difficult. While Sam's moving towards the light might be a bit of a blow to fans of an already slim pure stealth genre, for the rest of us it's a path rich with potential promise.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction is due out for PC and Xbox 360 on 16th April.

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Dan Pearson

Dan Pearson

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