I got a chance to play the demo for the upcoming Splinter Cell: Conviction on Xbox last night. I've enjoyed the Splinter Cell games in the past, even if it takes me an excessively long time to play them (I think I may have a tendency to "over-stealth"). I've missed out on the multiplayer, but the single player experience is one I've found to be fairly well-done.
The demo is certainly interesting. The game play is really intense. The demo starts out with Sam Fisher interrogating someone in a bathroom for information leading to the people responsible for the murder of his daughter. While Fisher has never exactly been hugs and kisses before, this scene is particularly brutal. See, new to interrogations is the use of the environment to encourage the victim to talk. What that means in this case is, if you're standing near a urinal, Sam will take the guy's head and smash it into the fixture, repeatedly, until the porcelain basin is destroyed. The guy will then give up some information, which is projected on the walls of the room. The effect has a very dramatic, cinematic feel, like a scene out of Natural Born Killers. To get more information, Sam can take his victim over to the bathroom's mirrors and smash his head into them, or use his body to break down the stall doors. It's almost unsettling in its brutality.
The demo then flows into the next mission, where you must infiltrate a warehouse. The transition is, again, very movie-like and very well-done. If it's any indication of the final game, then there is going to be very little in the way of "loading times" as each mission is just going to flow right into the next one. Very nice.
The game has a very easy-to-use cover system, where holding the left trigger lets you take cover behind obstacles, and tapping A lets you move from cover to cover. It's a convenient way to not only discover not only where you can take cover, but get to those places without fighting your controller or the environment. The "tagging" system offers a very easy way to take out enemies quickly (tag up to three enemies, then hit a button and Sam takes them out automatically), but to keep from making the game too easy, you have to "earn" the tags by getting in close and taking people out with a punch.
Objectives are projected onto buildings and scenery. It fits the whole cinematic theme and has the added bonus of guiding you to your destination. In the back of my mind, I'm wondering if there's going to be an instance where the projected text is going to be hard to read because of perspective or contrast with the environment, but it definitely didn't come up in the (very short) demo.
The big downer, though, was what happened when I encountered enemies in the warehouse and started taking them out. Every time I was discovered, or took a bad guy out, the survivors who were now on my case would shout obscenities. And not just any obscenities, either; most common were "F-bombs" of some form or another, followed closely behind by taking the Lord's name in vain. They were loud, punctuated, and it happened every time. And I could find no in-game option to censor the language.
Call me a "prude" if you wish, but this is not something I want to hear when I'm playing a game for my own entertainment. (At least, when I'm playing online, if another person takes their language over the top, I have the option of muting that player.) I don't like it; my wife, who is nearly always sitting in the family room reading while I'm playing, doesn't want to hear it; and we don't want our toddler, who lays around the room while I'm playing until he finally falls asleep, to be exposed to it in our house. It's one of the main reasons I stayed away from Gears of War, it's one of the reasons I shunned Rainbow Six: Vegas, and it's why I'm going to avoid Splinter Cell: Conviction this year.