If I took one thing away from the Conviction previews that I've been shown, it'd be that Sam Fisher is a total badass. I mean, really a guy you should not piss off.
The first thing I was told when I sat down to watch the demo of the game was that Ubisoft was trying to accomplish three things with Conviction.
The first is to tell a personal story of Sam Fisher, as he hunts down the men who have killed one of his family. It's certainly a rougher tale than the usual task of having Sam Fisher save the world because its his job. The sleek government look and equipment is gone, and ol' Sam is looking a little worse for wear this time around.
The second goal is to tell this personal story in a more dynamic way than just cutscenes and walls of text. This is done throughout the game with projected text and cutscenes. Instead of simply having a small indicator coming up with your objective, or pausing the gameplay to show you a story cutscene, the game does this by projecting the relevant information on to the walls. Literally. The walls light up as if a old 35 mm projector was shining the relevant data you need onto the environment around you, all in real-time, as you retain control of Sam and the camera, using a little bit of muscle to interrogate the man who needs to be softened up a bit before he tells you what Sam needs to know.
The third goal, and likely the one to be noticed the most, is to redefine what it means to be a 'stealth' title. Like I said, Fisher is a badass, so the question is always, why must you stay to the shadows like someone who can't take out four guys with bullets before they even have time to react? Now you don't. The gameplay this time around, while keeping the core of the stealth defensive (you can still die after a few bullets to the chest), they've added a very important offensive ability to how you handle yourself.
Much of this is done using both the 'mark-and-execute' ability, which is unlocked after performing a single melee kill, and the last-know-position system. The first allows you to combine your tactical abilities with Sam's offensive capabilities. While viewing a number of enemies, either with your own eyes or a camera, you're able to 'mark' them. Then, with the touch of a button, Sam quickly dispatches them with government-trained accuracy. This creates a very important tactical element to the game where each assault can be planned out before being executed by jumping out of the shadows and taking out enemies before they knew what hit them.
What determines how many marks you can take before starting your firing is based on your gun. The weaponry you get throughout the game each have their own mark abilities, but these, along with additional elements of the firearms, can be upgraded throughout the game. The man demonstrating the game to be could not elaborate further, but suffice to say, how you tailor your weaponry will be an important part of how you play.
The last-known-position system is also an extremely useful tool to you as a player. Essentially, when enemies are chasing you and you disappear from their site, a white silhouette of where they last saw you appear in the environment. Using this knowledge, you can sneak around the enemies as they approach where you once where to dispatch them quickly before they begin to look elsewhere for you.
Creeping around in the darkness (which turns the screen sepia to let you know you're truly hidden), your goggles also come in handy. Yes, Sam still has the goggles. In addition to providing the ability to see in the dark, they now allow Sam to see his opponents through walls, using a sonar-like system to detect where they are. Hopefully this means a lot less trial-and-error of running around a corner and getting jumped by multiple attackers.
Mulitplayer has also been confirmed to be in the title, but like the ability to upgrade your weaponry, could not be elaborated on further. More spies vs mercenaries, perhaps? Maybe some co-op spy action as well? Either way, when the game is released on February 23, 2010 on both the Xbox 360 and PC (using Games for Windows Live), you'll be able to put yourself in the shoes of the most capable man to ever wear those iconic goggles once again.