At last year's E3 convention, Splinter Cell: Conviction jumped out from the shadows and knifed us in the back with one of the most impressive demos of the show. Since then we’ve gotten our hands on the game and our enthusiasm for Sam Fisher’s latest outing has only grown. However, this time around Sam has to share the shadows with the two stars of Conviction’s co-op campaign. Ubisoft recently stopped by the office to let us play through this two-player mode, and we almost didn’t let them leave. This four-level prequel campaign isn’t an afterthought. Gamers will want to set aside some time and work through this mode with a friend.

Weapons of Mass Power Outage

The story follows two covert operatives, Archer and Kestrel – the former an agent of Third Echelon, and the latter an agent of Voron, a covert Russian military organization. Four Russian EMP weapons have been stolen and it’s up to Archer and Kestrel to retrieve the warheads before they are sold on the black market. This hunt takes the duo on a worldwide jaunt that includes locations in Russia and the U.S.

Expanded Single Player Features

All of the features found in Conviction’s main campaign will be available in co-op. However they will be slightly adapted for the two-player experience. Last known position, a feature that displays a dark silhouette in the last position you were seen, can be used to lure guards into a trap set up by your partner.

Similarly, the mark and execute feature will also be shared in co-op. Mark and execute allows players to tag enemies and then quickly take out all marked targets with the touch of a button. Archer and Kestrel will share each other’s marks, so while one player marks enemies from a bird’s eye vantage, his partner can perform the executions from below.

Watching Your Partner’s Back

Conviction’s co-op will also feature some new ways for players to work together. Archer and Kestrel will help each other breach doors, interrogate enemies, and resurrect each other when they take too many bullets in the vest. If an enemy grabs one player from behind and starts using him as a human shield, both players will have to work together to get him out of that jam. The player who has been grabbed can elbow his capture, giving his partner a window of opportunity to headshot the enemy guard and free his buddy. Teammates who stick together and share their tactics will have the most success tackling Conviction’s co-op experience.

Persistent Elite Creation System

Plenty of online games feature persistent experience boosting systems, but Conviction’s PEC system will actually bleed over into the single-player and co-op game modes. Players who accomplish various achievement-style challenges within the game will be awarded points that can be used to purchase new weapons, upgrade their gadgets, and customize their outfits. Players who get stuck in the single player campaign can play through a few online matches and earn extra tools to help them progress.