25 March 2010

Splinter Cell: 24

I remember reading a while ago a preview of Splinter Cell: Conviction, the latest in the long running line of stealth action games from Ubisoft. The lead game designer (or was it producer?) gloated how Jack Bauer in TV-series 24 makes perfect headshots one after another. He wanted something similar to his game so that you, the player, don't need to re-target all the time. Guess what? It  has happened exactly as he wanted. And that's not a good thing.

Okay. Sam Fisher is a really bad rogue agent now and everyone wants his head while he's on his personal vendetta. You still control this once cool character from behind his back. He hops and rolls from cover to cover, ever helpfully indicated by the on-screen arrows. You really don't need to think about too much of your surroundings as everything's been more or less highlighted for you, like where it's safe to take cover, where the enemies are etc. While peeking from behind the cover, you see a set piece of three baddies. Lo and behold, one is close to you with his back exposed. Sneak towards him and finish him with a melee takedown. This grants you the possibility for the game designer's brainchild, the Jack Bauer headshot spree. You mark the remaining two enemies, hit 'y' and Fisher executes them with perfect headshots. Without you, the player, needing to do any aiming. Just like Jack Bauer, you see.

What if you don't get a melee kill and thus can't automatically execute? Fear not, non-stealth action is easy as a pie as the game has no challenge to present at all. Heck, it even throws in a ghost image of Sam Fisher to show where the enemies last spotted you so you can easily be perfectly safe all the time and pop out to snipe down the baddies. I tip-toed, executed and shot my way through the demo with no difficulties at all.

Splinter Cell: Conviction is not my kind of game. Splinter Cell series has not been that for a long time. The first game was a great stealth action thriller but by each passing sequel it has gotten worse and worse and more towards action. This time you can't even talk about action as everything's so easy. I have been talking about how lacklustre PS3 exclusive games have been but now Xbox 360 gets its very own underwhelming exclusive. I can't help but feel like Don Quijote fighting against windmills as Splinter Cell: Conviction will probably score big on media and sells bucketloads but despite of danger of repeating myself, at least I get a warm and fuzzy feeling about the fact the game won't find its way to my shelf.

Super violent self-help just like in 24, the game's big role model.

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