The sixth installment of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell series had stealth enthusiasts eagerly awaiting its arrival, as it promised to deliver a completely new playing experience – and Splinter Cell: Blacklist hasn’t disappointed.
Players of the previous title, Splinter Cell: Conviction, will remember that protagonist Sam Fisher was going after Andriy Kobin, the person who supposedly killed his daughter, and Third Echelon. Blacklist takes place directly after the events from the previous title, and will see players stopping a deadly war from breaking out between the USA and Iran.
What we like about it
In the beginning of the title, players learn of a terrorist group call The Engineers who demand that the USA remove their troops from foreign countries and send them back home.
The Engineers vow to attack American assets which they have placed on what they call The Blacklist, and will attack each target according to a timed schedule set out by themselves. It will be up to Fisher and the newly-created Fourth Echelon to get behind the deadly attacks and stop The Engineers before they cause an international war.
Blacklist’s main base is a large, technologically-advanced aeroplane from which the team plans and executes all their missions. The environment is free for Fisher to walk around in, and players will be able to talk to the individual team members to learn more about missions, the technology or to upgrade anything from the weapons to the plane itself.
Gamers interact with the SMI, a large table in the middle of the Ops Centre, where Fisher will be able to see which missions need to be completed, and which ones are optional. From here, gamers can also access the multiplayer and co-op modes, which will take them to a separate menu.
As the levels progress and gamers take down more enemies, the more in-game currency they will acquire. This currency can then be used to buy new and better weapons, as well as upgrades to their existing arsenal. It’s advisable that players upgrade their goggles first, as tracking an enemy is just as important as taking them out.
Players can opt to play in one of three different styles, namely Ghost, Panther and Assault. At the end of each level, gamers will be scored according to their play style, and be awarded points for each.
In terms of multiplayer, gamers can enter the Spies vs Mercs section in the SMI, which will take them to an online lobby, but probably the most entertaining part of the multiplayer is the Co-Op section.
In this mode, players can team up with one other person to complete missions. While the missions aren’t compulsory, there are element, aspects and characters that pull through to the single player campaign.
The Co-Op missions can also be attempted solo, but will be incredibly difficult to pull off. However, there are a number of missions which are Co-Op only, and players will have to complete it with someone else.
What we don’t like about it
If criticism has to be levelled against the two-disc title, it’s that it can take very long to load during transitions from the SMI to being boots on the ground. While it is understandable that there are a number of factors that needs to load, it takes longer than the average.
There were also a number on instances where the subtitles didn’t match up with the spoken words, or where characters disappeared from the cutscenes, onto to reappear a few moments later.
While enemies can seem linear in the easier game settings, they do become more intelligent as the player scales up the difficulty. Some missions are actually rather hard, even on normal – and players need to keep in mind to take it slow and steady.
There are also a number of Gone Dark meta-game missions available within the SMI, and while some Googling explained the missions, Ubisoft doesn’t do a very good job of telling players exactly what to look for or how to play the meta-game.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist is a highly addictive title, and while the single player campaign can be very tough in certain parts, players will find themselves pushing on unto they complete the next step to drive the story along.
The controls are simple enough, as most actions are directed through the Action Wheel, which also slows time down a bit – giving players a few extra seconds to select the right gadget to use from a distance.
Lovers of the franchise will most certainly not be disappointed with Blacklist, as it provides for many action-packed hours, as well as an extensive multiplayer aspect. Newcomers can also benefit from picking it up first, as it’s really a testament as to just how far the franchise has progressed.
Our score: 9/10
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor