Well, I figure at this point I've done all I can to get the word out about Monster Hunter for those not familiar with it. Either your interest is piqued, or you've decided it's not your kind of game. The online component is Capcom-hosted, which means no friend codes to mess with. As soon as it's all set up I'll post the pertinent info so you can find me for some hunting if you should happen to end up with the game.
Switching gears here, this week I've been playing Splinter Cell: Conviction (and will continue to right up until MH lands at my doorstep next week). As I'd mentioned, I've been playing through it on Realistic trying to "ghost" each level. It's tough.
There was a lot of concern that Splinter Cell was no longer a "stealth" game, and that couldn't be further from the truth. This latest installment of the series is certainly a different beast than its predecessors, and while I went into it (and have enjoyed) trying to be the invisible predator, the more I play it, the more I realize I may be wrong.
Splinter Cell is a stealth game, in that stealth and shadows and surprise are your primary tools. You cannot walk through this game as a shooter. However, it's the most fast-paced stealth I've ever seen. There's nothing wrong with playing the game like we played previous Splinter Cells, but Sam is a hunter more than ever in Conviction, and if you can shrug off your preconceived notions about being detected equaling failure, there is some great fun to be had here.
When I began, I'd restart the level any time I flagged a "detected" warning. I didn't want to be detected. I wanted to be completely unseen. I was able to do it (after multiple tries), which certainly provided a challenge (especially on Realistic, the only way I'd recommend playing Splinter Cell) and extended gameplay. However as I said, the further I got into the game, the more I loosened up about mechanics.
If I completely botch a run, I'll still restart it, but I'm learning to use the other features such as last known position. It's not the end of the world if they know you're there. In fact, in most levels they DO know you're there, somewhere. The exhileration comes from being the predator, from methodically taking them down one by one or in groups as they panic and try to find you.
Sometimes a guard will spot me, and get out "It's Fisher! He's he--" before I pretty him up with some bullet lipstick. And that's alright. Because Sam can immediately duck back into the shadows, moving quickly away from the position where the enemies think he is, circle around and demolish them before they know what hit them.
It's turned out to be one of the best the Splinter Cell franchise has to offer.
It's not all perfect... some of the controls can be a little fidgety. Ninety-nine percent of the time they work great, but every so often you do something unintended. Like if you don't come to full complete stop in front of a window to open it, Sam will just leap through the glass. Or if you try a hand-to-hand takedown near a door, you might end up kicking the door open instead and just looking like an idiot. But these little hiccups are minor and rare
The story is decent... I'll be honest, I never really played Splinter Cell for their stories. I mostly just want to sneak around in the shadows and kill dudes. Still, there's definitely a feeling of rage in Sam. He's downright brutal this time out, and it adds to the sense of drive and pacing in the overall game.
I've been online a few times, and while the single player campaign is relatively short, the online stuff should provide plenty of hours of additional entertainment. If you're not into the online modes though, Splinter Cell may seem a little short for your money's worth, but what's there is definitely a chunk of good gaming.