Narratively, Blacklist is a very confused game. Lost somewhere before Conviction and everything that’s sure to come. The narrative ties to previous games are muddied and convoluted. Sam appears younger and the situation Sam and his team find themselves in seems out of context. However, as a separate entity from all that’s out there, Blacklist is as good as anything we’ve seen from the Splinter Cell franchise to date.
Fisher’s takedowns are sublime and fluid. They neither interrupt the gameplay nor take the player out of the action with a laborious cut-scene. The frequency of the Execute ability also makes the experience a lot more fast-paced and dynamic. The result is a game that feels tight, looks sharp and relishes in putting the pressure on the player at every turn.
Be warned, however. Sam is flakier than you may remember. The need for stealth has never been more paramount as Sam cannot handle a full-on fire fight with bullets flying at every part of his body. But then, Splinter Cell has never been about taking an inordinate amount of damage. Fortunately, the new cover system has Fisher’s back and features welcome improvements. The ease of flicking between points with a single-button press using only the camera to guide gaze works wonderfully and is sure to prompt future titles in the genre to consider similar mechanics.
As for Spies vs Mercs, the gameplay has received some nice tweaks and makes the mode a lot more competitive as well as co-operative. The contrast of switching between third and first person not only creates a clever distinction for defining your role in multiplayer but also makes sure the experience is more accessible and enjoyable for any time of gamer. Ubi Montreal have created a mode that, at first, doesn’t feel tacked on, but most importantly seems like it might just steal hours from other heavy-hitters already on the market. Likewise, the co-operative missions really help expand the narrative, feeling crucial to the ongoing story, but also introducing unique, exciting scenarios that really break up the constant flow of single-player gameplay, stopping players from feeling as if they’re treading new looking environments the same old way.
Not quite as well-rounded as Conviction, Blacklist still provides a quality entertainment package that manages to provide an exciting new direction for a familiar character with creative new gameplay methods. You just have to wonder whether it would have been better for Ubisoft to reboot the franchise rather than try to tie things up.
Still, Splinter Cell: Blacklist is a fine example of a fantastic stealth-em-up. The gameplay carries the title well and sets an exciting precedent for the future of the Splinter Cell franchise as we move towards the next-generation.