TOM CLANCY'S SPLINTER CELL: BLACKLIST REVIEW
Splinter Cell sneaks into a great game.
Posted by PlayDevil.com Staff on Sep 9, 2013 14:05 (92 days ago)
Written by: Alex
I never really enjoyed the Splinter Cell games. I remember getting the first one with my original Xbox, and the punishingly strict stealth action quickly infuriated me as I consistently came up short of the perfection it demanded.
The franchise has slowly become more forgiving however, and now Splinter Cell: Blacklist gives plenty of choice of how to move through its diverse range of maps and encounters. The automatic failures that dogged me at ever turn in the earlier games is now (mostly) gone, with Blacklist providing me with multiple ways to approach each missions, all of which make me feel like a badass.
Terrorism is an easy villain in today's climate, but Blacklist hasn't simply played on prejudice. Instead, the team at Ubisoft has created a diverse enemy group with an agenda murky enough, and a plan interesting enough, to keep you guessing until the end.
The group, calling themselves simply The Engineers, has laid out a timetable of attacks against America unless the US government agrees to call home all of their troops on foreign soil. With the countdown already ticking towards attack number two, its up to Splinter Cell veteran Sam Fisher, and his unit Fourth Echelon, to stop them.
With a unit made up of the best minds in their disciplines all that is left is to get them out in the field, which is achieved in impressive style by the Paladin. This is a massive aircraft, equipped with all the team needs as they try and stop the attacks and hunt down the terrorist leaders, in the most covert of black ops.
It is a well-constructed story, with premise that allows the action to move between a broad range of settings and gameplay styles, as the narrative's momentum builds.
As I said at the start, Blacklist allows you to approach most areas in a number of ways. Stealth is still a clear focus, with Sam as nimble and silent as ever, but (if you chose to) it is just as possible to roll through most of the game as though it were a cover-based shooter.
Blacklist itself distinguishes three different approaches to play, Ghost (moving unseen through the world), Panther (no one see you… until its too late), and Assault (which is when you think you are playing Gears of War). At the end of a mission scores are awarded depending on how Sam conducted himself, with bonus given if you break certain thresh holds in each, encouraging multiple play through.
However you choose to approach the game the controls feel good, with Sam more than capable in every role providing he is prepared, and that is where the upgrades come in. There are a full compliment of gadgets and weapons on hand in game, allowing specialisation towards each different approach.
Ever more silent suits, scanner upgrades, and EMP grenades help the Ghostly player, while a tri-rotor drone is one of the best tools available to Panthers. Finally Assault specialists can shun stealth in favour of armour and weapon upgrades for maximum lethality.
Upgrades along each path can be purchased using in game currency that is awarded for completing missions, with extra items are also awarded for logging on to the U-Play service and using the Smartphone companion app SC Blacklist: Spider Bot. These additional items offer some high-end equipment in the early game but, as you discover your preferred style of play, deeper customisation will be called for.
Despite all of these different approaches, Blacklist still forces changes in pace with different objective types, drone missions, and even FPS stages (though notably it never resorts to a turret sections). All of this keeps the game feeling fresh even if, like me, you are driving yourself unnecessarily crazy trying to be stealthy when it isn't really a requirement any more.