Back in the game

sc1I’ve recently had a bit of a games bonanza on the XBox 360. I have been playing Splinter Cell Conviction and Alan Wake. This combination is slightly freaky because in Splinter Cell you are sneaking around shooting out the lights and trying to stay in in the dark while in Alan Wake you are running around turning on lights and  trying to stay lit up like a Christmas tree at all times.

Splinter Cell Conviction is the latest in a line of 5 Splinter Cell games from Ubisoft. It’s a notable game series because in my opinion it’s gone from strength to strength and they’ve never had a dud. Even the Tomb Raider series only managed to get to Tomb Raider 2 before producing a complete lemon in the form of Tomb Raider 3. The plot lines and characters have remained contiguous and consistently engaging. It is also the only stealth-based action adventure I’ve played that manages to sustain it’s stealth element so consistently throughout the game without it ever getting tired or stale.sc2

The graphics in the latest episode are some of the best I’ve ever seen. They are rich and smooth and glossy and detailed. The playing environments are large, rich and detailed and the whole feel of the game is immensely satisfying. There are a number of game modes in addition to the main narrative that come under the title “Deniable Ops”. These arcade modes include a “Hunter” elimination mode, a survival mode and an additional “Infiltration” mode that can be unlocked via download.

aw1 Alan Wake was announced 5 years ago…yes, 5 ! The build-up and hype since including the release of a series of short films before the game has been hard to live up to. The format of the game is “survival horror” similar to Resident Evil and the game does evoke some of the same sensations of dread and apprehension. It has a great story. It’s like a mish-mash of Twin Peaks and The Twilight Zone. It is formatted into episodes which give it a TV-like quality. There are some nice touches like episodes of a TV series very similar to The Twilight Zone that you can watch on TVs you find around the game and being able to tune into the local radio station.

The overall game play is OK and the environments are rich and detailed. However it is let down by poor graphics and clunky animation. Opening doors for instance is performed by bumping into them. Even in cut scenes the animation is clunky and when you see detail like hands picking up objects or putting them down the gestures are vague and unconvincing. Yes, the work they’ve done with light and shadow is impressive but I’m guessing that was added at the end and the animation and graphics are the stuff from 5 years ago when the game was first announced.

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