Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Published by: Ubisoft
Release Date: August 20, 2013
Rating: M for Mature
Available On: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii U
Once upon a time, Splinter Cell was a beacon of hardcore stealth action. The game punished players for being overly combative, and rewarded players for sneaking through the shadows and learning to pick their fights. Over the course of the franchise, however, the focus shifted from stealth to action. Sure, the old stealthy moments were still here and there, but the main point of the game quickly became killing everyone in the room. No game took this concept further than Splinter Cell: Conviction, which was so far detached from the series’ roots that there wasn’t even a way to hide the bodies of bested foes.
Ubisoft seems to know that it has stepped too far from Splinter Cell’s origin. And with Splinter Cell: Blacklist, things seem to be back on track for fans of the original stealthy design that made the series a success. There’s still combat, to be sure, and there’s still the option to go in guns blazing, but hardcore fans will find many more options to remain in the shadows and push through levels undetected in this latest entry in the franchise.
The story, once again, centers on Sam Fisher and his elite band of do-gooders. Positioned in a flying mobile operations center, Sam and pals work to defeat a group of terrorists using a “blacklist” to plan and execute attacks across the globe. Michael Ironside hasn’t returned to voice Fisher and the supporting characters are more templates than anything else, and the main storyline is essentially as forgettable as the story of every other Splinter Cell title.
But we’re not here for story, really. We’re here to sneak around dark corridors and knock out unsuspecting guards, and Blacklist delivers this in spades. There’s a new game mechanic that allows you to identify and dispatch enemies on the fly, and you can also progress through most of the game’s missions without ever being detected. As you complete main and side missions, you can unlock new gear that enhances your play style – silent and non-lethal, silent and lethal, or loud and lethal.
Play is cleaner, more responsive, and more enjoyable than any previous Splinter Cell game. And while the bulk of the game seems as though it was designed to appeal to the widest array of players possible, there’s still enough classic Splinter Cell action to make the title worth looking into. It’s definitely one of the better late-generation Splinter Cells, and Blacklist comes pretty close to capturing what we all loved about the original games in the series.
Put simply: Blacklist is a good Splinter Cell game, and it’s a good game in general. Hardcore fans may still find the stealth mechanics too forgiving, but there’s enough packed into the title to make it worth a purchase if you’ve enjoyed other games in the series. As for whether the changes will rope in new players, well, that’s something we’ll just have to keep an eye on.