Sam Fisher is back and better than ever. After the amount of critic and fan complaints about Splinter Cell: Conviction, Ubisoft promised that the next Splinter Cell game would take features from the fans favorite game of the franchise Chaos Theory and would combine them with some of the favorite fan features of Conviction, and has promised here it is, that game is Blacklist.
I won’t lie to you Splinter Cell: Blacklist is one of the best stealth games that I’ve played lately, Ubisoft went deep in various aspects like the gameplay, the story , the content , the graphics and the multiplayer. Blacklist has more content than any other past Splinter Cell game ever had, and this makes it the biggest Splinter Cell game to date.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist takes place three years after the events of Conviction, Sam Fisher joined up with his friend Victor Coste at his Private Military Corporation called Paladin 9. After we fire up the game Sam and Victor are in a military base that gets attacked by The Engineers, during this attack Victor gets wounded, and becomes one of the reasons that Sam joins the Fourth Echelon.
The Engineers are a group of 12 terrorists who initiate a terror countdown called the Blacklist which is a series of terrorist attacks on the United States interests, what do they want? All the US troops deployed on foreign countries to be removed. After the attack the President of the United States creates Fourth Echelon a special forces group lead by Sam Fisher, the group members are : Anna Grímsdóttir, Isaac Briggs, Charlie Cole and Sam Fisher. You might remember Anna, from the previous games and comics within the Splinter Cell franchise.
Fourth Echelon is a “blacker than black” special forces group, they answer solely to the President of the United States, and their task is to end any previous Third Echelon Operations (Conviction’s corrupted agency) and end the Blacklist while attempting to stop their constant attacks. The in-game cutscenes are great, everything seems flowing and the immersion that it gives to players it’s comparable to the Metal Gear Solid cut scenes and as we play thorough the game we get close to the characters and once we start to know each one’s personality we get to see each member of the team colliding between them creating conflicts within themselves. Fans can expect huge references to previous games especially between Sam and Grim as their relationship is sometimes create conflicts between the mission and the team.
The game keeps continues faithfull to the franchise, Blacklist is still a third person shooter based on cover to cover stealth just like any Splinter Cell game. But Blacklist takes gameplay deeper than any Splinter Cell game before, it allows the player to take 3 different playstyles.
These playstyles are Ghost, Panther and Assault. Ghost is a non lethal stealth playstyle, it’s for players who like to take down their enemies in a non lethal way with for example Hand to Hand combat take down, using a stun gun or just by evading the enemies. While the Panther is all about silent kills, by using a silencer on our gun, killing with our karambit knife or even killing a group of enemies while remaing in stealth while the Assault playstyle is all about going guns blazing Rambo style.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist is intense in terms of stealth, the first level starts in Lybia, mission codename “SAFEHOUSE, my objective is to extract Audrey Kobin from a Safehouse in Benghazi. The mission starts with Sam in civilian clothes as we may our way thorough a militia with armed weapons, our first objective is to find a bathroom to equip the the gear. After we suit up we mke our way to where Kobin is being held hostage for interrogation, I take out some lights turn on my NVGs and move thorough the shadows while taking down my enemies in a non lethal way, as soon as I take down the enemies I grab their bodys and hide them in the shadows. I make my way up to the top of the buildings, this was the tricky part there was a patrol of 4 enemies running around on the top.
Instead of killing them I quickly move forward into the shadows unseen as I proceed my way to Kobin’s once I made it to where Kobin is being held a small cut scene showing him being tortured is shown, quickly after the cut scene I grab a enemy from the window in front and quickly kill the other two with execution that were hidden behind Kobin.
As you can see this was just the first level of Blacklist, but was intense on hard as I used all the tricks that I had up my sleeve to remain hidden at all costs, at the end of the mission I used all the Gadgets that were available with me. All the missions in the campaign mode are different, some we might have to sneak in without alerting anyone, others we might have to extract someone and sometimes we might have to murder a HTV (High Value Target) you won’t get bored playing any mission in this game, there’s even a First Person View mission!
There’s also some secondary missions available given by the others members of the team that will unlock new items and give a good amount of money to spend on upgrading and customizing, all of this missions are totally diferent from each other with different objectives and approaches, so variety is one of the biggest words in Blacklist.
For those who like Co-Op , Briggs gives missions only available in Co op. Grim, Kobin and Charlie give single player missions that can also be played in co op. If played in co op you’ll have special routes created especially for two players which will make the job easier, all missions in the game can be played in Co-Op via Split Screen, Online: Find Teammate, and Online: Friends Only.
What’s funny about Blacklist it’s that within a mission the players are the ones who decides who want to do what, for example I’m a pure stealth player, so I always try to complete the levels without raising any alert or guard suspect that I’m there, which is quite difficult I tell you. Blacklist really balances out the playstyles of each player, my playthorough was on hard and stealth was “hard” indeed. Blacklist AI is amazing without any doubt either you’re playing full stealth or assault mixed up with some stealth, they won’t have any trouble shooting you on sight so using the cover to cover system is the best choice available to the player. At certain story missions there’s also given an opportunity to SPARE or KILL a character during a cut scene which gives a bit of freedom to the player.
The execution system is back from Conviction as well, for those who aren’t familiar with it we have to kill 3 enemies and that we’re allowed to mark up to 3 (down from 4 which was in Conviction) enemies once marked we press execution and Sam will directly shoot to their heads, this will NOT kill the enemies that have a helmet equipped though it will only remove the helmet.
Blacklist takes the Splinter Cell franchise further in terms of content, there’s customization to everything. We’re able to customize our suit ( gloves, boots, pants and even the suits and Googles light), weapons ( ammo, sights, silencers and so on) Googles ( color ). Plus we’re also able to upgrade our HQ which is a C-159 Paladin plane, by upgrading the plane sections we get new weapons, increase health regen , radar and more. The customization and upgrading is unlike any other Splinter Cell game we’ve seen yet and one playthorough is not enough to unlock all of them. The customization is also available in the multiplayer which I’ll talk in more detail below.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist also features a competitive multiplayer mode, but don’t get mistaken it’s not a multiplayer mode that it’s there to say that it’s multiplayer. Ubisoft has brought back Spies vs Mercs mode and they’ve created a new mode called Blacklist.
Spies Vs Mercs classic version is a two-vs-two. The Spies gotta hack a terminal while the Mercs are protecting. Spies are played in a third-person while Mercs are in first person.Then we have the Blacklist mode which is s a form of Spies vs. Mercs, but with two teams of four, plus we’re able to customize classes.The customization and gameplay classic just like in the campaign. In terms of classes the spy side, there is the Intel and the Predator classes, while on the Merc side the classes are Peacemaker and Disruptor, some game modes require player level though.
The multiplayer focuses it very much on the community aspect, so far what I’ve played I’ve enjoyed my matches some have been won and others have been a lose but it’s a fun competitive multiplayer that it worth checking it out.
In terms of technical aspects, both PS3 and Xbox 360 version run around 29 FPS while the Wii U is the only console that gives the full experience of 30 FPS. The game looks good especially at the end of this console generation cycle, the screen tearing 720p shows how a next generation is needed and fast, just like any other multiplatform the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions are different. On the Xbox 360 the Shadows are turned on to the maximum while on the PS3 the brightness is the one turned to the max the FPS are 29 stable.
The Wii U version allows the player to use the secondary screen on the controller as their OPSAT. Which allows the player to do different tasks in a more fun and entertaining way.
As for sound design some things have been changed, especially the voice acting. The voice acting of the game had some changes since Conviction, the first change has been Sam Fisher’s voice instead of being Michael IronSide on voice of Sam, it’s now Eric Johnson which makes a really great job as the new voice fans will notice and find it different at the start but soon after will get used to it and rather enjoy this Sam’s voice than Mr Ironside. The voice acting sounds professional and great, never have Splinter Cell had such a great voice during cut scenes and in game.
The sound design sounds great as any Splinter Cell game, the SC weapons have the same sounds from the previous games which fans will love the feeling of hearing that SC pistol and SC assault rifle shooting again. The loud weapons sounds are realistic while the silenced weapons may sound like a water gun from time to time in different environments.
With that all being said Splinter Cell: Blacklist gives fantastic experience for all type of players either you’re new to the stealth genre or you like to go loud by shooting everyone in front of you, the game has a unique experience to all different type of playstyles. Never have a Splinter Cell game packaged some much content, and I can’t wait to see where they’re taking the franchise from here.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist is now out and is available on PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U and the PC
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