- No more sneaking around in the shadows. Apparently you're going to be more like James Bond and infiltrate buildings in plain daylight. You won't have to use force or sneak around as long as you don't act suspiciously.
- According to the article, every single object that is rendered on screen has physical properties and most of them can be used by Sam. For example, Sam can pick up furniture and use it as a weapon, or throw printers at enemies or papers in the face of enemies to gain the upperhand in fights.
- Melee fights are much more than "press this button to hit" this time around. There's different context sensitive attack buttons and as mentioned before lots of environmental interaction.
- Some pretty negative comments about the ps3 made by the devs. They state the fact that they being exclusive to the 360 allows them to do much more than if they were multiplatform (duh) but they also state they doubt they would be able to achieve what they're doing with the game on the 360 on the ps3 even if it was ps3 exclusive.
The lead programmer told the magazine he doubts they would have been able to pull of the lighting effects they have right now on the ps3. That's the only thing they say straight out, but they do state they believe they're much better off on the 360.
Sam Fisher emerges from the shadows for a new style of game. The first of our five days of Splinter Cell coverage begins with the new look of stealth.
Sam Fisher can no longer rely on his trusted bag of tools and iconic goggles. He's gone beyond being a double agent. Now he's a fully fledged fugitive without the intel of 3rd Echelon or the support of his friends. Those custom gadgets can't be found at your local hardware store. This time around, Fisher is going to need more than just a dark corner to survive. It's a whole new game and we'll be taking an in-depth look at five ways it has changed over the next few days. If you thought you knew what Splinter Cell was, get ready to see how UbiSoft is changing all of the rules.
In time for the holiday season this year, the Splinter Cell franchise is going to receive its fifth installment on Xbox 360 and PC. To say that things are going to be different this time around for Sam Fisher is the understatement of the year. Conviction is taking the idea that the Splinter Cell franchise is just a series of stealth games and tossing it right out of the window. The gameplay mechanic of hiding in the shadows while patiently waiting for the perfect moment to get the drop on a terrorist has been scrapped in favor of a more active style of play. The famous night vision goggles and gadget bag are gone. Fisher's immediate surroundings will become his inventory. Sam Fisher is the new Jason Bourne, constantly hunted and forced to improvise around every corner.
Conviction is so different from what we're used to seeing that at first glance you might wonder what makes UbiSoft think this should even be called a sequel to the critically acclaimed and groundbreaking series. That's why the first of our five days of Splinter Cell Conviction coverage begins with the evolution of the franchise and how Conviction continues to hold true to the philosophy behind the series. To do that, we start from the beginning.
In the quest to justify new hardware purchases, gamers are incessantly searching for the title that offers a "next-gen" experience. The definition of "next-gen" changes depending upon who you ask, but there is no question that at the time of its release in November of 2002, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell offered it. Taking advantage of new techniques to generate dynamic lighting, UbiSoft Montreal created a style of stealth action that showed gamers how new technology could deliver new experiences. As Mathieu Ferland, Senior Producer on Conviction, put it, "In fact we had a strong theme (The Splinter Agent), a strong technology (Dynamic Lighting) and that allowed the birth of a new and great game play, Light and Shadow Stealth."
The light and shadow stealth gameplay mechanic continued to grow throughout the last generation of consoles, but remained true to the core gameplay concept. Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow introduced the online spies vs. mercenaries game mode. Chaos Theory, widely considered the star of the franchise, presented a polished and complete version of that original vision. It even included concepts and mechanics that did not make it into the original Splinter Cell game. "When we created the original Splinter Cell, the idea of multiplayer co-op was already there. However, we had to wait until Chaos Theory to make it reach the public," said Mathieu Ferland.
But how much further could UbiSoft take the light and shadow gameplay? Adding more gadgets and stealth kills or bigger environments doesn't do much to make each new game feel fresh. Playing with shadows to create a style of game was no longer technically impressive and a new generation of consoles was on the horizon.
"It was good, but repetitive over time. After three games, we decided to make a big turnaround in the franchise," explained Ferland.
This big shift began with last fall's Splinter Cell Double Agent. Although the game was not developed in Montreal by the founding team as Conviction is (both the single and multiplayer games are being made in Montreal using the same engine), it began the transition from a trained and deadly super soldier with no personality to a man with a past and a dark sense of humor. It's a natural progression for the character more recognized by his trademark night vision goggles and his jet-black outfit than his face or emotions. Even better, it allowed a core team that had remained together throughout the franchise's history to dive deeper into this character that they had become so intimate with without even knowing anything about him.
"Double Agent doesn't really bridge the gap in terms of game play," Ferland told IGN, "it bridges the gap in terms of narrations, and getting Sam out of order lead missions. Daylight maps were original; however, it was a half step, as the core mechanics of light and shadow were still used."
Conviction takes things the full step.
UbiSoft Montreal is looking to recreate the feeling of wonder and awe the original Splinter Cell delivered by taking advantage of new technologies to give us a new style of game. Just as dynamic lighting brought innovation to the stealth genre, dynamic environments will too.
Stealth has not been totally abandoned for Splinter Cell Conviction. Quite the contrary. Stealth will now take on a new form as Sam Fisher changes roles from highly decorated soldier to fugitive. You'll still be able press up against walls to look around corners, hide inside of cabinets or underneath tables, and peer through windows to survey the next room. But in Conviction, patience is no longer a virtue.
To stay true to the core concepts of the original Splinter Cell, but still deliver a new style of play, the idea of active stealth has been created. With Sam Fisher taking on the role of a fugitive, he'll still need to stay out of the public eye. Unfortunately for Fisher, wanted men don't have the luxury of advanced gadgets, intel, or a large support team. They have to wing it, just like Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity or Richard Kimble in The Fugitive. Split second decisions that make use of everything around Sam will be the only way to survive. That and a good sense of how to blend into a crowd.
"Improvisation is a concept we wanted to bring to the gamers, as we felt it was one of the strongest shared elements of all spy agent on his own," explained Ferland. "They have to be able to deal with anything, anytime, anywhere, faster, smarter."
To allow for improvisation, UbiSoft had to create a truly dynamic environment where the decisions players made aren't limited by the game. The first stealth element in this dynamic environment is the crowd. In Conviction, Fisher will be able to blend into the crowd, mimicking what those around him do in order to remain incognito. If a group of folks is walking along, Sam will be able to slide into step behind them and follow along for a short while to blend in and look natural. Of course, the people will get suspicious of the stranger behind them if he does this too long. A park bench or café stool might present a place to sit down and look the part of a person taking in a sunny afternoon.
The crowd won't be passive though. Non-player characters will constantly move and react to what happens. Tearing a girl's laptop from her hands and tossing it on the ground will cause a nice commotion that will draw attention to a single spot while Sam ducks off into the bushes. Push a woman and she'll tell the cops to investigate what the man in the hoodie has done. This would be the time for Sam to sneak off into the bushes and knock the cop out away from the prying eyes of the public. Creating a large panic will cause the crowd to start fleeing, creating a great cover for Fisher to make an exit. It will be up to the player to guide Sam through these crowded areas while reacting to the changing environment while somehow remaining incognito.
Of course, the game isn't just about crowd dynamics. As a fugitive, everything around Sam can be used. Papers can be thrown in an oncoming enemy's face to momentarily distract him, tables can be picked up and used either for cover or as a weapon (breaking off a leg makes a nice club, doesn't it?), doors can become offensive tools, and gunfights are sure to break out when Sam makes his presence known. And since you can use everything around you, so can the AI controlled enemies.
The goal is to replace the small "boxes" of scripted gameplay in previous Splinter Cell games with sandboxes, where improvisation can save the day even if you've made a mistake. Unlike other Splinter Cell games, making the wrong decision does not spell immediate defeat. It just means that you'll have to find another way through the current mess you've gotten yourself into. As Mathieu Ferland put it:
We are creating chaos in the system and we ask the player to "surf" this chaos, and ultimately create order in the midst of it so that they can pass through. This is a very delicate approach and we are still experimenting with it; the real challenge is about providing an exciting game experience every time: If you are too systemic, you can start an incredible session or something less exciting, it becomes hard to balance difficulty and get some general guidelines for the player.
It's easy to change directions with a franchise, but one of the hallmarks of the Splinter Cell series was its cinematic feel that scripted events created. Hiding in the shadows to perform stealth kills and using a large arsenal of high tech gadgets can present many interesting gameplay scenarios, but it can also be limiting. On the one hand, these "boxes" of scripted confrontations convey a cinematic feeling that games like Crackdown or Oblivion for the most part lack. On the other, the game is scripted, which doesn't allow for much improvisation. Meeting a healthy balance that provides both freedom and cinematic, memorable moments is one of the challenges UbiSoft Montreal is faced with in this new improvisation heavy style of gameplay.
The other challenge, and perhaps a trickier one, is convincing the legion of fans that have stuck by the franchise through four installments to continue to back a vastly different Splinter Cell game.
"Splinter Cell Double Agent current gen was developed especially as an homage and thank you to them," Ferland told us. "Now we, as a development and creative team, need to be challenged. Conviction is this challenge, and hopefully those that trusted us in the first place, while feeling sad that something they liked may not be there, will give us the benefit of a first great run, let see what else Montreal's original Splinter Cell team can do."
We'll be continuing our look at what Montreal's Splinter Cell team can do over four more feature stories, starting tomorrow with a look at Sam Fisher himself and how he came to dump his gadgets in favor of a beard.
It is only by fate that any life ends and only by chance that it is yours.............not mine!!
Post by Tyler Durden on May 17, 2007 13:51:08 GMT 6
Wow, Sam Fisher meets Jason Bourne... sounds pretty cool! Definitely getting this! I've always been a fan of the Splinter Cell series and I'm glad they're taking a new approach since the gameplay was starting to become stale.
"This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time."