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Junipers Pruned

Final February! Splinter Cell: Conviction and White Knight Chronicles Ian's avatar
Finally I’ve got to the last two significant games of February, Splinter Cell: Conviction and White Knight Chronicles. Mass Effect 2 is still keeping me busy. Unfortunately everything I want to say about that game is now just a straight up spoiler. I may end up posting some articles that are entirely spoiled out, but then how will people know if they’ve played far enough to read it? I think I might have to mention specific achievements associated with the things I am doing, and people can work it out from that. I can see from the achievement descriptions that someone thought about making them safe, for example I just got the Ghost Ship achievement, the text for which said "Complete the investigation of a derelict alien vessel", which considering what that mission actually involves is a perfect way of describing a very significant plot mission. As always, enough about Mass Effect, that’s January talk. We’re all about February in this article.

Splinter Cell: Conviction – 26th - Delayed till April 16th

Picture of Sam Fisher blowing up a hotdog stand I am astonished considering how fast they were getting Splinter Cell games out for a while that it’s given them this much trouble to get another one out. I remember when it looked like Conviction was going to come out along side the original Assassin’s Creed. At the time they seemed to both be going with the Social Stealth concept. Ubisoft put out this really odd trailer which seemed to be about a hobo version of Sam Fisher living in a park and fighting security guards. At one point in the trailer he blows up a hot dog stand with a grenade launcher! This seemed like a pretty weird and left field direction to go in, and about as far from prison grittiness of Double Agent as I could of imagined. I think this hotdog stand hobo version of the game was scrapped shortly after, and development has gone in another totally different but still not completely Splinter Cell like direction.

To me Splinter Cell was all about one mechanic, watching people’s patrol routes to find out when one guy is vulnerable then getting up behind him and taking him out. I think I did this over and over again for the five previous games. I say five because Double Agent really has to be considered two games. The 360 version was basically a totally different to the game they released on the PS2 and original Xbox. It had the same basic plot and characters, but none of the levels were remotely similar. You could tell which one was developed by Ubisoft Shanghai though because it had a level set in Shanghai.

The new game seems to be more action orientated which I think is fine if they’ve changed the controls to match. That said, one of the main mechanics they’ve shown off is a sort of auto-targeting room clearing attack that prevents you from having to do any manual aiming, so maybe they haven’t changed the controls, as much as I would hope. I’ll really have to wait and see on that. I’m also quite interested in the co-op campaign which I understand to be completely separate from the main single player, and is actually a prequel. Sam has agreed that we’ll play through that, as we’ve been working pretty well together playing through the Special Ops mode of Modern Warfare 2.

Likelihood of buying: Sure, if it doesn’t get delayed again.

Update 8th Feb - Oh, apparently it was delayed again. Till April 16th. Colour me unsurprised.

White Knight Chronicles – 26th

Picture of original White Knight Chronicles Trailer I remember when I first saw this trailer in November 2006, it looked freaking awesome. Having seen some gameplay footage of this recently, it definitely look similar to how the 2006 trailed looked but way crummy. The animations don’t actually transition together nicely like they did in the trailer, and everything looks way less polished. It’s hard to tell what happened, or if anything in that original trailer was actually ever real. I know Sony spent a while producing ridiculous target renders for all their games, like the infamous Killzone 2 E3 2005 trailer. I think they’ve stopped doing these now, or at least stopped showing them at press events.

I haven’t really had a good time with JRPGs recently. In this generation I’ve completed Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey and Eternal Sonata, and given up on Infinite Undiscovery because it was hopeless. Of those, Lost Odyssey was the clear winner, but even that didn’t have much of the magic of a good Final Fantasy game. I really haven’t enjoyed the post FF12 changes to the combat system that seemed to have been picked up on by everyone. I don’t want to be manually running in combat in a JRPG ever, I want to be select Attack from a menu and watching my characters Attack. At no point in Eternal Sonata or Infinite Undiscovery did I feel like I was using my superior tactics to defeat anyone.

This game is probably coming out the right side of FF13. Games that are very similar to better games always need to come out before the better game to tide people over. No-one is going to buy Dante’s Inferno with God of War 3 on the shelf next to it, and no-one would buy White Knight if they found it sitting next to Final Fantasy 13. I’ve read some reviews that were a bit down on FF13, but the things they were complaining about sounded like some of the things I like about these games. I hear it’s very linear with no backtracking, over a third cutscenes, and had very little to do beyond the 50 hours of main game. Perfect, I never wanted to breed fucking Golden Chocobos anyway. FFX’s optional Dark Aeons were a nightmare that I can’t imagine anyone being masochistic enough to defeat anyway, except this person who wrote a FAQ on the subject.

Likelihood of buying: Eh, we’ll see. Tags: