I hacked the Gibson with my wrist

October 16, 2006 by Tim

Ok, first things first (and since I get a few emails a day about it), what’s left of the Ctrl+Alt+Del books are now on sale in the store. We’ve marked them down to $14.95, and when they’re gone, they’re gone for a while. It will probably be early next year before I get around to reprinting them, so grab ’em now if you want them. Volume 3 should be going to print soon, as well a couple of other projects.

I’m doing that lecture down at Rensselaer Polytechnic in Troy, NY this Thursday. Should be fun, basically I’ll talk about the comic and how its made and all that neat stuff. I think I’ll also have a computer and projector at my disposal, so hopefully I can utilize those to give a more visual demonstration on putting the comic together. As of today, any tickets left should be available to the public, but I am not really “in the know”, as they say.

And finally, having spent the last evening with the Splinter Cell: Double Agent multiplayer demo, and having see lots of varied reactions to the changes made (since Chaos Theory), I wanted to lay down my thoughts for you.

Frankly, I enjoy it. Now, that’s setting aside the few glitches and connection troubles (which seem less severe now than they did) the demo seems to experience, because I’m not going to comment on those things in a demo. But I had fun with the demo, on both teams.

Personally, I like that the spies are weaker now, and have to rely more on stealth and strategy. I saw too many aggro spies in Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory. And that’s fine if that’s how you like to play, but that’s not the dynamic that has been designed into these levels. I always preferred the idea of sneaking unseen, capturing the objective, and leaving without a trace, so obviously I’m happy that the game now encourages that moreso.

I think that the spy escape moves are really cool looking, though I’ve had no occasion to use any other than that spidery scuttle under a low passage. Since you can only carry one gadget, and all of them can be useful, there’s a lot of opportunity for some teamwork there. The wrist device that does it all, hacks from a distance, shuts off lights, and even breaks windows, is pretty neat. I love hanging from a pipe on the ceiling and using my forearm to capture a file when the merc has no idea where I am.

I’m not a huge fan of the smooth sheen that appears on spies when they’re in the shadows. I feel like my spy is wrapped in saran wrap, or was just rolling around in vaseline. I understand some sort of outline is needed so you don’t lose yourself in the shadows, but do I really have to glisten?

One thing I see a lot of people complaining about is the merc PD (proximity detector). Basically it notifies you when a spy is in your immediate vicinity. Not only does this give mercs a fighting chance, but it’s practically a necessity due to the wireless hacking ability of the spies.

As a spy I didn’t find that I was getting caught any more or less often because of the PD, and as a merc, I didn’t find it made things overwhelmingly easy. But because when you hear an objective is under attack, and the attack could be coming from the other side of the room, you need all the help you can get.

The only merc gadget I’ve used so far is the drone, but it’s pretty nifty. Basically it’s a little hovering remote grenade, with a camera in it, that you steer around. Haven’t killed any spies with it yet, but got killed by one as a spy. Just as I was making the leap from the last rooftop to deliver the file, too.

I’m pretty psyched about the 3v3. It makes the matches a little more intense.

So all in all, I’ve found the multiplayer portion of SC:DA to be really exciting and enjoyable. I think that they’ve taken another step towards what Splinter Cell multiplayer was always intended to be: spies versus mercs. Not super ninja assassins versus mercs. People will whine and moan because they want their deathmatch and aggro spies, but that’s not here anymore. What we have here, finally, is a multiplayer that more closely resembles the single player feel of the first few games.

It’s good stuff.

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