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Splinter Cell: Conviction versus mode tested

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I'm giggling. Rich is bent over, crouch-walking towards a guard. It's funny for three reasons: 1) it's a silly walk, and the day I stop laughing at silly walks is the day the terrorists have won, 2) Splinter Cell Conviction's guard deaths are over the top and awesomely violent, and 3 ) I know he hasn't spotted me.

Conviction has a versus mode that takes the usual co-op activities and maps and twists them: two spies in an arena full of guards. Kill them, kill each other. This creeping, crawling action is stupidly tense and tensely stupid: you daren't move until you've checked every angle and spotted every corner. It neatly subverts what's comforting about the game: when a light winks out on the other side of the arena, I know Rich is on the move. But is he moving to the inky black hole the light was illuminating, or is he hoping I'll think that he is? Is Rich, our simple, grinning, overly enthusiastic staff writer really that devious? The tinkling glass attracts a guard, and whatever Rich's plan is has the added complication of the dimwitted servicemen that populate the arena blundering into his circle of pain. I use the opportunity to move, bolting across hunks of modern art, avoiding the dark area Rich made, instead settling on a high wall that Rich will have to pass no matter what.


Of course, it's better to take a guard quietly, so Rich lets him turn back and stalks him, coming into my view. It's honestly just really funny. Like those times when you're playing hide and seek as a child, and the seeker is right there . I watch as Rich grabs the guard, but instead of killing him he takes him hostage. He walks underneath my perch and approaches another guard. What a buffoon. I start firing at him as he's shooting at the other guard.

Annoyingly, he survives.

I guess the human shied works, but as soon as his held guard drops, Rich falls to a headshot. But that's not the end. It's possible to sneak up on the other Spy as he's sneaking up on you, laying traps within traps. And Rich really is that devious. He was sneaking on one side of a giant plant thing, I was on the other, the pair of us circling around it, keeping out of range of the other while trying to track him as well. Round and round we went, childishly taunting each other before I exploded. Rich had planted a proximity mine on his side of the planter.

What a git.

If you haven't given it a shot, Splinter Cell: Conviction's versus mode really is worth playing. A unique, silly addition that doesn't get any of the attention it deserves.