Ducking in and out of cover, dodging patrolling guards and their canine companions, Sam Fisher infiltrates an exotic villa to capture and interrogate a suspect involved in a terrorist organization that threatens the American way of life. From this point onwards, it’s your call on how you get to the target. Waltz in with a machine gun for company and blast everything that moves, navigate undetected through a maze of air-vents, underground tunnels and pipes until you eventually arrive at your target, or move in like a shadow, picking off the unsuspecting goons one by one either by luring them into traps, slitting their throats or a simple bullet to the head.
Sam Fisher exercises brutal efficiency, and that’s exactly what America needs right now. A terrorist group, known as “The Engineers” have set up a “Blacklist” which means they will attack a major outlet of the American way of life until all U.S. Soldiers stationed overseas are returned home. Their attacks are deadly, and the Government are powerless against them. Fourth Echelon however, are outside the Government, so it’s up to them to stop the Blacklist.
If you’re a fan of the Splinter Cell series you have every right to be sceptical of Blacklist after the previous game Conviction which was in its own right, terrible. It ditched the stealth approach and focused on the action while keeping the same combat mechanics of a stealth game so it immediately fell apart for me. Fear not however, Blacklist is the Splinter Cell we’ve been waiting for. Returning features from Conviction are the Mark and Execute abilities and the fighting from the shadows gameplay, which now is indicated by a light on your back, instead of the entire screen going black and white.
Missions are accessed from The Paladin, a military plane that acts as a hub world. It feels similar to Mass Effect as you talk to your crew-members, upgrade your ship, access side missions and build up your team to face a major threat, but, the characters just aren’t interesting. The two newest members are I.T specialist Charlie Cole, a generic-nerd, and side-kick Isaac Briggs whom is as Jim Sterling (Destructoid) puts it “Call of Duty: The character”. Grim’s only purpose is to feed you intel as you progress, how handy! The game no longer features around Fisher’s mental state as he reacts to what’s happening to him and things around him, he now takes a step back and feels like a supporting character. Michael Ironside the series’s famous voice actor playing Fisher has been replaced by Eric Johnson, who does a good job but fails to catch up with Ironside’s gravelly tones.
It’s not all that bad, while the characters might be weak and plot fairly over-done the gameplay easily validates the rest of the game. Ghost, Panther and Assault are the playstyles you are graded on, Ghost being super-stealthy using non-lethal means of combat, if you play Ghost however, combat should be an extreme rarity. Secondly, there’s my style in all stealth-games “Panther Style” which incorporates stealth and combat together. Use silenced weapons, knifes, traps,poison gas. I found myself hunting down enemy’s that I could easily avoid just for the sadistic fun. There is no better feeling than clearing out an entire area silently. Finally there’s Assault, run in, shoot things, blow up things. Win.
I disregarded Assault at first, but when I tried it, I loved it! The weapons have a real bang to them, as well as explosions, it’s the combat that Conviction needed to pass as a shooter.
Blacklist really nails all three play styles on the head.
This game reall brings the series’s back to it’s former glory, it really reminds me of Chaos Theory, hiding bodies, taking human-shields, enemy’s freaking out when they realise they’re all that’s left it’s all here and it’s all done great!
Customisation plays a big part in Blacklist, you can literally customise everything! Areas of the plane, guns, suits, goggles even the lights on your goggles! There’s alot of money to be spent here, which can be obtained by playing missions, finding collectables, challenges and online, it will take a while until you finally have everything bought in the single-player. Never mind the multi-player!
Speaking of the multi-player, the game is worth buying almost because of the fantastic Spies VS Mercs asymmetrical gameplay. Spies play like regular Splinter Cell, third-person climbing and hiding in all sorts of nooks and cranny’s and Mercs play like an FPS, they are big lumbering dudes with bigger guns, it is up to them to protect different sites and it’s up to the spies to hack these. Once hacked the hacker can only stay in a certain zone until the hack is completed which leads to some very tense standoffs for both teams. In the classic mode, maps are very dark and spies can only kill by stealth, mercs have flashlights and neither teams have any abilities like drones, or sonar-vision (vision through walls). SvM Blacklist is the same concept only 4v4, with brighter areas more classes and customisation.
Extraction is like capture the flag with mercs capturing and spies protecting and Team Deathmatch is a mixed 4v4 team.
There’s a lot of fun to be had here, the campaign is a constant challenge, the co-op campaign is great but should only be played with another player, solo takes way the experience and turns into a regular challenge room style with hoard mode type games and stealth infiltration missions. Play with a friend and you’ll be having a lot of fun, for a long time! Multi-player is a breath of fresh air, and really is an experience that has to be had by all! Splinter Cell: Blacklist has redeemed Splinter Cell as a series, I cannot wait for the next instalment, I can’t imagine what they’ll do with next-gen hardware.
If you’re waiting for GTA V, or the next-gen systems, Blacklist will keep you busy right up until the very end!
[easyreview title=”The Arcade Verdict” cat1title=”Story” cat1detail=”Terrorism attacks on America are a series’s tradition for Splinter Cell, even though it’s done rather well, for me, they only served as gateway to link missions. ” cat1rating=”6.5″ cat2title=”Gameplay” cat2detail=”Setting the bar for the series and stealth games in general with it’s broad range of playthrough types and attention to detail!” cat2rating=”9.5″ cat3title=”Music” cat3detail=”It’s a game about a spy agency taking out terroists. Expect drums and keyboard synth. ” cat3rating=”7.0″ cat4title= “Multiplayer” cat4detail= “Asymmetric multiplayer done right! Spies V Mercs is worth the purchase alone!” cat4rating=”9.0″ cat4detail= “An extremely enjoyable experience that caters to all players” overall=”true”]