Outlook: ‘Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction’
How do games tell stories? How do classic narrative points get integrated into the new and flexible framework of videogames? Staid old cut scenes with distracting subtitles need to go. I don't want games to try to be movies; I want them to be informed by movies and every other narrative option, but to forge something new. There's a chance that "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction," with its technique of projecting memories onto walls and integrating objective lists into the game world, could be a step in the right direction.
And in terms of how games represent facets of perception that are so common as to go unnoticed in daily life, "Conviction" has new ideas about marking and taking down enemies, and recording where you assume enemies are looking for you. Fun stuff, potentially. Then add real-time environmental interrogation, aka an in-game recreation of the bathroom fight from "Casino Royale"? Could be sick fun. OK, maybe I want games to be like movies every once in a while. So, yeah, I'm crazy hopeful for this one. Don't let me down, Ubi.
Scott Jones: The fact that I'm interested in "Splinter Cell: Conviction" at all is kind of a miracle. I haven't touched a "Splinter Cell" game since the original. When Ubisoft started cranking them out on an annual basis -- or, if it didn't, it sure felt like it was -- the "SC" games all began to blur together for me. All the games seemed to feature some new goggle type, and a Sam Fisher with varying degrees of facial hair, and some new ninja move that Sam could do. And they had vague, forgettable names like "Dark Tomorrow" and "Even Darker Tomorrow," or something.
Games need to feel special. They need to feel like events. If you get the sense that a publisher is going to the well one too many times with a series or a character, it's very easy to tune it out. If games in a series start to feel like trains -- if I miss this one, I'll just catch the next one -- that's a problem.
"Splinter Cell: Conviction" does feel like an event. It does feel special. It feels dark and complex and adult. Do I want to beat someone up in a bathroom and use their face to break a urinal? I do. Do I want to see clues and cut scenes painted on the walls around me? Again, I do.
In other words: Russ, save me a seat on this train. I don't want to miss this one.