The Splinter Cell series has undergone a rebirth of sorts. Gone are the days when you had to spend hours in the dark tracking your prey’s every move only to engulf them silently in the shadows. The new Sam Fisher is fast, lethal and brutal. He still relies on the dark but when spotted can kill an enemy and vanish without a trace.
To fully understand the ideology behind his latest avatar we sit down and talk to Maxime Beland, the Creative Director and driving force behind Splinter Cell Conviction.
Why scrap the earlier design of the game? How painful was it to discard something you guys worked so hard on?
Our creative teams knew they needed to make an enormous impact with this fifth installment in one of Ubisoft’s most important brands. Great games aren’t made quickly and Ubisoft supported the creativity of the development team by giving the necessary time to make a great game.
Due to this, we kept all the great tools we already had, such as an amazing lighting engine and the dynamic environment, then we focused the gameplay more on the Splinter Cell values and strengths, such as light and shadows, athletic moves or gadgets to provide to the player the best possible Splinter Cell experience.
The airfield level was changed pretty radically in the last months of the project. But other than that, we pretty much produced and shipped everything that we had planned on the missions side. For gameplay, the number one feature that we where not able to do on time was the ability to carry dead bodies. I really wish we would’ve been able to do it. Not that you really need it in the game, but more because it’s a feature that a lot of fans would’ve liked to have.
What made you change the way the game plays? Why move away from the conventional Splinter Cell gameplay style?
We wanted to give the "ruthless elite agent" fantasy to the player. We focused on keeping what made SC special: intelligence in action. SC is not and will never be a skilled base shooter at its core, it has to incorporate tactical elements, and be rewarding for those that are using it effectively. Meanwhile, we realized that gamers enjoy innovative gameplay and fast-paced action. Our ambition was to bridge the tactical elements with the needed action and pacing that would resonate with gamer’s expectation.
So we’ve decided to focus on brand new gameplay elements for Conviction. The Mark and Execute is a really good example of this philosophy; Being granted a mark and execute, and using it well will require some thinking, while the execute part will be driven by providing the sense of being this ruthless agent. Additionally, the ability to use Last Known Position will allow players to strategically flank opponents.