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Splinter Cell: Blacklist Review

Sam Fisher is back, and though he may sound a little different it is business as usual for our tricloptic action hero. Yet again world peace is at threat, this time from an organisation called The Engineers, threatening to destroy America in a series of terrorist attacks, ominously labelled as the Blacklist and consisting of a series of attacks on the homeland.

To show they mean business The Engineers manage to surprise attack a high military facility, injuring both Sam and his buddy Vic in the process. Put on high alert, 4th Echelon is created to trace and stop this threat by word of the President and with this, the new team board their flying base of operations the Paladin and scour the data feeds hoping for a break. To have any hope of stopping this new threat Sam has to rely on his exceptional stealth skills to infiltrate many highly secured areas, travelling the globe whilst following leads and experienced guesses, trying to second guess the terrorist and attack them when they least expect it.

Sam’s general control is the same as the previous Conviction game, easily hugging cover with simple button taps and quick running to other areas with the help of HUD input. The automated executions also return, unlocked by taking out an enemy in close combat, Sam is then able to tag a few enemies and with the push of a button, shoot them all with ease; it is a little strange handing over the controls to the game at these vital moments but it really works well and keeps the flow of the game running, however that is not to say this is an easy game, as even on the normal settings the enemy are quick to spot you, leaving you to rely on precise and swift movement to either find a hiding spot or battle it out and hope they do not call for support.

With each mission mainly relying on Sam’s stealth skills to shoot out lights and remain undetected and agility to climb all manner of walls and pipes Sam also has a huge amount of gadgets at his disposal and though not essential, they certainly make the job easier with an array of noisemakers, sticky cameras, tri-rotors and a healthy selection of grenades; add to that a customisable suit that allows you to choose from heavy armour or the lighter fabrics that make you move silently and The Engineers will only know when you are close as you snap their necks. Working silently in the background is the Shadownet, the games scoring and challenge system that really encourages you to try and be inventive with your kills, with Shadownet toting up everything from time taken, friends scores and how many headshots you have made, with each challenge successfully completed earning cash which can then be spent on even more items for Sam’s locker. Even the Paladin gets its own upgrades, offering better scanning for secondary targets and the possibility of unlocking black-market weaponry.

There is an awful lot of game include on the disc, something that Conviction also managed and set itself apart from the rest of the pack, with numerous reasons to replay without ever getting repetitive or boring. Each mission will be grading your performance under three specific play styles, Ghost, Panther and Assault, which basically is a grading system sliding between silent and humane and never spotted to guns blazing, kill everything that moves. Each mission also has an equally challenging set of secondary objectives, usually a little off the beaten path that tend to be even more guarded than the rest of the game, these earn even more cash with you capturing certain enemies or collecting a data drop or information from a laptop.

Even with a lengthy single player experience to keep you entertained, there is even more packed into the game, all accessible via the SMI console in the Paladin. Move your cursor around the global layout and there will be other missions submitted by the members of the 4th Echelon team, each acting as a solo or co-op experience. Over the 14 missions available you will again have to call on many skills to complete them. Grouped into sub categories, each set has its own specific game rules, including data retrieval without being spotted, surviving an incoming attack or killing all of the enemies on a map. Each one offers a great challenge but the most fun will be had with a decent co-op partner, synchronising well planned attacks and dual execution moves.

When it comes to online play, Splinter Cell: Blacklist has offered some of the most fun I have had in a long time on an online game. Each mission is split into two factions, Spies and Mercs, each with their own specific rules of control and also separate character creation options. The most basic and which also turns out to be the most fun is the SvM Blacklist mode, where you take it in turns playing the Mercs and Spies, the goal, as the Spies you have ten minutes to hack three terminals, as the Mercs, you just need to kill the hacker responsible to restart the hack. The main difference between each faction is the control; with the Mercs they are represented in your classic first person view, slow moving and armed to the teeth, whereas the Spies are played in a third person view, allowing a better understanding of the field and also able to scale walls and hide in the shadows, though at a cost of being very weak with only melee attacks really offering any chance in an all-out fight. Team work is essential for a successful raid, with you chatting and agreeing with other players which console to go for and then offering covering fire whilst the hacker tries to find the best place to hide, holding their breath as they wait for the minute timer to reach zero without being spotted.

As an online player you rank up the standard way via wins and kills and then with the cash earned from online, single player and the Shadownet challenges you can then slowly create a master thief or battle hardened Merc. Starting with a few pre-sets like the Peacemaker and Hunter which comes with its own drone for the Mercs or the Intel Scout and Predator, packed with a digital ghillie suit for the Spies you later unlock custom set ups allowing you to create your own characters.

Aside from the SvM Blacklist mode there are a couple of other modes available, a similar Extraction mode where the Mercs need to infiltrate and steal a package whilst the Spies try to stop them but other modes go by the wayside removing the asymmetrical teams and allowing mixed teams, with the likes of team Deathmatch just tend to be lots of spies running around rather than the more balance fights

Splinter Cell: Blacklist continues the great story of Sam Fisher and never fails to entertain be it online or solo. For the fans of the original games that may feel a little put off by the changes to controls or the apparent action heavy gameplay, put aside your doubts and just try it as in reality; all these have made the game even more enjoyable and accessible.

Loads of gadgets and weapons to try out
Shadownet manages to keep multiple pays fresh
Hours upon hours of game play
Play how you like, stealth or action?

Graphics do not seem to be the best, especially on the characters.

Words by Ash Buchanan

Edited On 30 Aug, 2013

( 1 )
Anonymous user's avatar
Yoram 3 years ago
When will be restock for Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist Ultimatum Edition

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