Games that usually try to fit themselves in the stealth and action genre tend to fit neither of those categories very well. At first glance, stealth and action probably shouldn’t even fit together. Splinter Cell Blacklist, however, takes both of these categories and give players options for not only different play styles, but different play speeds. Do these options and different voice acting give Splinter Cell Blacklist a new rejuvenation or do these changes actually harm and deviate from the Sam Fisher everyone loved in the past?
Splinter Cell has been one of my favorite stealth games for a long time. Studying an area, looking at the enemies patterns and learning new tricks to bypass guards has always been fun to me. This new Splinter Cell game has all of the things that I loved and adored about the past games while using new gadgets and tricks to make the game flow even better. Moving from cover-to-cover, zapping enemies with a crossbow, and sneaking up behind people has never felt this smooth.
Moving, jumping and every other piece of fluidity in the game are obviously informed by other games in the Ubisoft publishing system and that is okay. When climbing rocks and moving over obstacles, it is easy to see the animations and systems from Assassin’s Creed peeking through, but it is used to make gameplay feel better. Most of the time when I see reused assets from other games it makes me cringe, but Splinter Cell Blacklist uses it to its advantage.
Another thing that Blacklist uses to its advantage is gamers playstyles. Instead of forcing players to play a certain way, it throws three different play styles at you and allows you to choose. For those who like super stealthy non-lethal kills, ghost play style will feel rewarding. For those who want the tense moments of stealth but the skill that comes with stealth kills, the panther style of play will scratch that itch. Finally the last play style, assault, is just a fun way to play killing everything in sight with a machine gun for the action oriented player. Giving these three options to players makes the game more rounded and an all-around better experience.
The levels themselves also feel very rounded. Old Splinter Cell games were often set in very similar environments for each mission. Blacklist, however, strays far from the dark, nighttime, industrial compounds of the past game and gives interesting level design for daytime and nighttime missions alike set in many different locals. The PC version of the game in particular looks absolutely beautiful in sections even though it is running on a modified Unreal Engine 2 (not 3) engine.
All of these things together make for interesting co-op missions as well. Infiltrating a base, taking out enemies and completing mission objectives with a friend brings out new aspects and makes players play together to take on objectives. Gadgets that normally would never see the light of day become infinitely more useful in co-op. Taking out a room of six people with a co-op mark and execute feels absolutely amazing.
The multiplayer Spies vs. Mercs game comes back in this incarnation of Splinter Cell with a few tweaks. There are a couple of different modes that include a 4v4 Spies vs. Mercs, 2v2 Spies vs. Mercs, Deathmatch and Classic Spies vs. Mercs modes that are all good. Players new to the multiplayer might feel a little lukewarm about the game mode because of all of the customization and strategy that are needed to be successful. If you do get invested in this game mode, there are plenty of rewarding, fun, hours of gameplay to be had.
Many people have called for the death of Sam Fisher and the Splinter Cell franchise after the past couple of games. Splinter Cell Blacklist takes a turn for the better with a butt load of content for single player, co-op and multiplayer experiences. The gameplay is tight and gives options for players to play how they want. I know this game will be in my system for quite some time and recommend it to anyone who wants to have a good time.
Splinter Cell Blacklist plays fantastic and is jam packed full of content.