Like its ruthless protagonist, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction has spent more time in the shadows than it has in the spotlight since it was first announced back in 2007.
The game was a different beast back then, swapping the series’ trademark empty darkened corners for populated urban locations. It looked to take the franchise in a new direction, but then mysteriously disappeared under a shroud of development troubles.
Last June, a new-look Conviction was unveiled to much acclaim at E3 – and it certainly looked like it had been worth the wait.
Still aiming to take a fresh approach to the popular Splinter Cell formula, the game returns to the darkness but gives players even more control over how they complete their mission and terrorise their enemies.
“We’re going to reinvigorate the stealth genre with Splinter Cell: Conviction,” says Ubisoft brand manager Matt Benson.
“We’ve opened up the experience so that the player has more choice in how they approach each situation.
“There are also new gameplay tools such as the ‘Mark and Execute’ and ‘Last Known Position’ features that allow player to gain a key tactical advantage over their prey, bringing intense bursts of action and making players feel like a predator, rather than forcing them to lurk in the shadows.”
Gamers once again grip the silenced pistol of Sam Fisher, formerly a US secret agent and now on a mission of personal vengeance to find out who killed his daughter.
THE SPYING GAME
Since Fisher no longer answers to Uncle Sam, players can take a much more brutal approach to dealing with their enemies as they continue his determined search for answers.
Two new gameplay tools in particular given them a range of new tactical options. ‘Mark and Execute’ allows them to scope out a room, identify key targets and unleash a whirlwind attack before their enemies are even aware of their presence.
Alternatively, the ‘Last Known Position’ indicates where players’ pursuers will be searching for them, allowing wannabe spies to reposition themselves for surprise attacks or make a more effective escape.
The publisher is also proud of the multiplayer elements. Splinter Cell now features much more extensive options for multiple gamers than previous instalments have, including the comprehensive Prologue co-operative campaign and customisable Deniable Ops mode.
“Brand awareness is high for Splinter Cell, but we want to broaden the audience and appeal to those who may have never considered purchasing it,” says Benson.
“Splinter Cell has been an extremely successful franchise to date, but the team wanted to focus on Sam Fisher’s personal motives this time round, rather than solely on a geopolitical conflict.
“This has allowed the team to bring a whole new level of action, presentation and storytelling to the game experience. We feel that the team has delivered on that expectation and we ensure that we’ll take this through into our marketing as well.”
The publisher is certainly working hard to achieve this, with a broad campaign that looks set to engage a wider audience than any previous entry in the series (see ‘Splinter Sell’). Ubisoft is even targeting fans of other Tom Clancy franchises with access to the Ghost Recon: Future Soldier beta.
Splinter Cell: Conviction has been a long-time coming but the wealth of features and scenarios that appeal to fans of both tactical stealth games and more intense action titles ensures that it will be a strong performer when it stalks onto shelves next month.
Ubisoft has drawn up an extensive marketing campaign to promote the long-awaited arrival of Conviction, not only attract long-time fans but also to those who have yet to expeience the series for themselves.
– TV advertising will form the core of the overall campaign, with TV spots driving mass awareness and attempting to engage potential buyers with the cinematic elements of the main game.
– The first phase of the TV campaign will see brutal teaser ads running after 9pm, before broadening out closer to the game’s release with 20- to 30-second TV spots, which will be shown throughout the day. This will run from launch until the end of April and beyond.
– Specialist print ads have been running throughout March and will continue into April, pushing both the single-player and co-op experiences.
– This will expand into the lifestyle press closer to launch, with ads focusing on the single-player campaign appearing in sport, technology and men’s lifestyle
– Online ads will be primarily promoting the co-op and multiplayer offering across all major gaming sites in order to boost awareness of these features among the hardcore gaming market.
– This will also be expanded at a later date to run across mainstream news, men’s lifestyle, sports and technology sites.
– There will be a dedicated advertising push across key video-on-demand services, including SkyPlayer and 4oD.
– In-store POS will be available, and will be designed to help drive pre-release awareness and Ubisoft’s various pre-order incentives, such as exclusive downloadable weapons.
– A viral Alternate Reality Game began on Boxing Day. It was organised through Xbox Live and ran through to the end of January. Participants were rewarded with an exclusive multiplayer skin code.