Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist
(Tested with 360 & Kinect)
Let me get this out of
the way, right off the bat shall we? Sam Fisher is back, do not adjust
your sound settings. This is Sam Fisher. This is the first Splinter
Cell, from my memory anyway, where Canadian Actor Michael Ironside is
not the voice of Sam Fisher.
Actor Eric Johnson voices Sam Fisher in this latest
espionage/military/spy romp from Ubisoft. Eric Johnson does do a great
job... the only problem is the difference in voice is so jarring you
just don’t feel like you’re playing a Splinter Cell game. If you come
into the franchise and this is your first game from the series and maybe
only game…it won’t bother you at all. You would be blissfully unaware.
While this is a small thing to be sure, it still is a jarring change.
That low dangerous growl that Ironside is able to emote for the
character is sorely missed. Eric Johnson seems to bring out a drier
sarcastic side to the character. Again his obvious younger voice makes
one feel that the game should have been something that happened perhaps
at the beginning of Fisher’s career.
What is going on in this game you ask? A group of
terrorists calling themselves The Engineers have got their panties in a
bunch over the United States having its military all over the world. The
Engineers set forth a terrorist campaign that has been called The
Blacklist. Each attack on the U.S. interests escalates. It’s the stuff
of summer popcorn action films and thankfully Splinter Cell: Blacklist
delivers the goods.
The impending next attacks happen in real time as we
see a countdown for the next one…giving it an almost “24” feel to it.
The story is designed to give a sense of urgency to move forward and it
does that job very well. No small thanks to the very cool flying base of
operations and the very cool computer systems called the Strategic
Mission Interface (SMI). Throughout the adventure the SMI can be a
source to look over data about missions and objectives.
A lot of the new toys and the flying base of
operations (the Paladin) are tied to upgrades. As the player earns money
for completing missions, and tasks in the field as well as extra bonus
items like picking up dead drops…the player then can use the money for
upgrades to the aircraft base. This in turn opens up new side missions,
better weapons and all kinds of goodies that the player can purchase.
The Xbox 360 version of which this review is about
does use the Kinect. It is not required for the game. But does make use
of it in small ways. You can lure guards over for a stealth call by
saying ”Hey You”. While this is pretty cool I did not find myself using
the Kinect feature as much as I hoped. It was not missed.
Character writing is mostly competent, though
formulaic. I would love to see a show or game that does a twist on the
hacker character or forensic person not having odd quirky qualities.
Actors all deliver the character and make them believable and likable.
(So please note , my thoughts on the Sam Fisher character do not reflect
poorly on the actor voicing the character this time around…the voice
overs are all very well done.)
Splinter Cell Blacklist designer’s looks like they
did some fan loving work on this one. Mixing a fairly well balanced
combination of stealth and full on combat assault tactics integrating
this into all of the missions. There are a couple mission later that you
will need the stealth side of things. Stealth tends to be rewarded very
well, while letting yourself be seen or known to be in the area will
punish you with enemy reinforcements. Some of which are heavily armored
and hard to take down. There are also a couple missions later that
Stealth is a must because if you get seen or captured…mission over.
The game gives you three options really to play and
most players unless you’re a diehard in the wool Splinter Cell fan, will
bounce between all three during play. If you can get through on full
stealth, my hats off to you. It is challenging but not impossible. The
three play style options each seem to have their own merits and in turn
rewards. Ghost is non-lethal stealth, Assault which is as it implies
head on in guns blazing. Lastly there is Panther which kind of marries
the first two play styles.
I was happy to see the mark and execute mechanic back
for this latest in the series. For those that have not played any of the
Splinter Cell games yet….mark and execute allows the player to mark
targets after a meter is full and then they are able to hit the execute
button and Sam takes out all the marked targets with gunfire in a slow
motion ballet of death. There are some curve balls the game throws at
you which is a nice change, some enemy as noted earlier have body
armor. Others may have a combat helmet, so a shot to the head may only
knock the helmet off. Requiring a follow up round or two to take them
out before they raise an alarm.
Playing at the higher difficulty levels gives a real
challenge and tenseness to the game play. There is something to lose
here. Even if you’re starting over at a check point, the game gives you
the drive to try out different tactics. There is nothing like getting
through a level or a particularly difficult area, its rewarding feeling.
The game graphics are very nice in high Def. I would
suggest players install the texture pack from disk 2 to get the best
graphical punch from the game.
The final battle is a bit of a let-down, not what I
expected in the very least. It was reminiscent of the fight with Batman
VS Deadshot in Arkham City. Will say no more about it because there is a
lot more in the ending. So I won’t ruin it for you.
The single player game is good just not overly so,
the Coop game play for Splinter Cell Blacklist is out right
spectacular. Playing with a friend is a blast. Enemies don’t seem to do
the exact same patterns in these maps so it does offer some replay
challenge. Don’t get too at ease thinking it’s all a cakewalk once you
have played a map a couple times.
Multiplayer Spies vs. Mercs mode is just out and out
fun. The spies play in that third person perspective, trying their best
to use stealth and sneak attacks to take on the Mercenary players who
are gunners and play in a first person perspective. Playing as a merc,
you feel some dread as you make your way through a multiplayer map.
Wondering where the attack is going to come from and will you even see
The game designers did a nice choice for the
multi-player. There are some modes that you can even mix Mercs and Spies
on the same team. This makes for some rather interesting game play
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist a good single
player game with a spectacular co-op and multi-player component.
Have fun, play games