PAX / Splinter Cell: Conviction & Assassin’s Creed II demos

It was nearly 6 o’clock, and though the event wasn’t scheduled to start until 7:30, already hundreds (soon to be thousands) of people were claiming their place in line to get into one of the hottest events of the day. I had already been boxed out of Halo 3: ODST earlier because I was coming from an interview, so I was not going to miss this one. After a lot of sitting, and moving, and sitting, we were all finally let into the theatre. I found myself seated in the 4th row, a mere 8 feet from the man Gabe himself. The presentation started late, but no one really seemed to mind once it did.

First up was Splinter Cell: Conviction. When he took the stage I recognized Maxime Béland from the earlier developer videos we had seen of the game. He said we would be seeing some videos, then he would play the game and take questions. The demo was the same one we have seen in many videos despite the fact that he did play it live. He admitted though, that he has played the 5 min scenario hundreds of times, and it was virtually the same execution as the recorded video. He talked about the changes they have made to the Splinter Cell formula, and how they are rethinking the stealth game a little; Conviction has a faster pace which Béland described to his team as “like a panther, not a grandma”. What he means by this hilarious quote is simply that actions such as shimmying on a balcony ledge, using a meat-shield, or dragging a body don’t have to be slow like most games of the day, they can be badass.

One of my favorite features of the game is how the objectives are projected onto the game world, instead of through popups. Some people criticized the new plan-and-execute commands in the game, saying that it takes all of the player control away. Béland was not phased, he assured us that both fans and non-fans of the franchise would enjoy the action, and during his playthrough there was one moment in which he didn’t kill every single person perfectly, and wound up in a firefight. The big reveal for PAX with Conviction was the announcement that Sam Fisher’s iconic goggles would be returning, and can see through walls.

Then it was on to Assassin’s Creed II. Patrice Desilets, the creative lead, took the stage as the super high quality CGI trailer played through. Much clapping ensued. The format was similar, some videos and a playthrough, but AC2 had some new things to show.

Desilets has in the past worked on titles such as Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, and he wanted to show us what the experience has brought to AC2. First he demonstrated a move that allows you to do a 90 degree turn while running on building overhangs. This is accomplished by hanging plants that can rotate in all directions and are placed on the corner of a building. It should be noted that in this new time period, buildings are taller than they were in the crusades. He also played a section where Ezio traveled into the catacombs underneath Florence, which introduced some linear platforming as opposed to open world (very PoP of him). This quickly turned into a chase scene, and then an assassination, which only emphasized the game’s versatility this time around. You can now pickpocket from civilians and use the money to buy heals, poison or lord knows what else. Ezio can now blend in with any group of crowded up people, not simply 4 monks, and can also use his stolen money to hire thugs to attack guards so he can pass.