By Sam Coles:
Splinter Cell is easily one of my favourite stealth games from the last two generations of gaming however the series had a bit of a hiccup with the release of Conviction and threw all the features that made the series unique out the window. Conviction decided to go for the Call of Duty crowd with linear missions and more action rather than stealth; however they redeemed themselves with the release of Blacklist all the back in 2013 on the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U and PC. The game takes the good elements of Conviction and blends it with Chaos Theory and the original game.
Splinter Cell Blacklist takes place after the events of Conviction where Fisher is now back working for the government in the newly established 4th Echelon which was created after leader of 3rd Echelon was corrupted and tried to assassinate the president of US. Sam is pulled out of retirement due to a new terrorist group called The Blacklist are threatening US soil and Fisher must go on a gallivant around the world and stop them. It’s a great narrative with some excellent acting from the cast and good facial animation although Michael Ironside does not reprise his role in this game which is a shame but the new actor does a good job.
The gameplay goes back to the original trilogy of games from the sixth generation of gaming with open ended levels that let you proceed as you see fit. They introduced three play styles in this game Ghost, Predator and Assault. Ghost is where you sneak through undetected without killing anyone, Predator is similar to Ghost where you sneak through undetected but take a more lethal approach and Assault is self-explanatory where you go in loud. You gain points and money for each play style you choose and it grades you at the end of the level and shows which style you prefer. This is great as it encourages you to replay each level differently and adds a huge amount of replay value as you discover different entry points in the level, I prefer to play as a Predator as it is fun to hide in the shadows and kill.
You gain money from each missions and this can be spent on new guns, equipment and suit upgrades. You’ll more than likely end up spending most of your money on suit upgrades as it is the most useful as your starting pistol is fine throughout. What the suit upgrades entail are aspects such as making you lighter on your feet, making less noise and of course bullets doing less damage when you’re spotted or if you decide to do an Assault playthrough.
As this game only came out a few years ago it still looks stunning visually with good character models with moist skin textures when they’re sweating or in the rain. Environments look beautiful from the sandy deserts of Afghanistan to the wet airfields in Washington the attention to detail is great. The frame rate does take a hit in a few areas especially in some of the busier sections but this was near the end of the PS3 and 360 life cycle as the PS4 and Xbox One were released later that year.
Splinter Cell Blacklist is a great stealth game and is a return to form after the mixed bag that was Conviction. I’m looking forward to the new Splinter Cell if the rumours are true but I don’t want them to turn it into an open world game. The game is easy to find if you want to get it on consoles I would recommend the PS3 and 360 version as the Wii U version is buggy. If you missed this 2013 gem the first time I would urge you to pick it up.