As previously stated in my thoughts on Mark Of The Ninja, I was never a big fan of stealth games. But recently I have indeed taken an interest to stealth based games. I am loving the tension…and my patience and tolerance, it seems, has gone a notch above. Endless deaths and enemy-detection has caused me to be so I suppose. Splinter Cell, once, had been the touchstone to which all stealth games had been measured and constantly delivered that promise albeit with a few hits and misses. While earlier games in the franchise made it tough for casual gamers, Splinter Cell Conviction made it accessible for action game fans as well.
Taking place, 3 years after Splinter Cell Conviction, Sam Fisher is back in action and the plot puts you into the thick of it all. Splinter Cell Blacklist has a pleasing plot (which I wont spoil) and playing through the campaign makes you feel like you in a blockbuster movie. You regroup with (the amazing personalities of) Grim, Charlie and Briggs on your mobile Fourth Echelon headquarters, The Paladin, a large military transport aircraft. The Paladin replaces the game menu and is an excellent gameplay mechanic. Do roam around the Paladin to talk to personal and get extra missions or to call Sam’s daughter. You talk to crew mates, check your stats, customize your gear as well as the aircraft inside the Paladin. The Paladin also makes sense when you globe-trot on missions.
Splinter Cell is back to its roots having a heavy emphasis on stealth but it can be played like Conviction too. I had a taste of both worlds. Playing stealth leaves you with a very satiated state whereas playing guns blazing got me out of many sticky situations. Anything you do in the game rewards you with points which can be invested on gear and gadgets. And talk about gadgets and gear, you’ve got large arsenal at your disposal, my favorites being The Tri-Rotor and the Crossbow. There was a particular level where you have to play as Briggs which was in a first person perspective and boy it SUCKED! It was very rigid and moving and aiming the gun was a real pain in the neck and for that sole reason I left out Spies Vs Mercs mode. The singleplayer and co-op content was immense in this iteration with Grim Missions, Briggs Missions and Charlie Missions extending the already gratifying single player campaign.
Blacklist encourages you to play non lethally and the gear for that is at your disposal. Ghost, Panther and Assault ratings are a welcome addition giving you points for the way you play the game. You can play as discreet as a Ghost, The Panther is more close quarters gameplay or play all weapons blazing and aggressive as an Assault. ‘Last Known Position’ and ‘Mark and Execute makes a comeback making easy, some otherwise difficult kills making way for some excellent kill cams.
The music is one of the biggest pluses, often feeling like you are in too deep in an action movie. Composed by Mike Zarin and Tony Hajjar, its one of the high points of the game and is equally responsible for immersing you. Though thumbs down for Eric Johnson as Sam Fisher’s voice, I just couldn’t buy into his constant badassery.
Doesn’t have the most promising graphics and I am held back calling it a next gen game…yeah for me next gen games should have next gen graphics to be called so. Sorry Assassins Creed Blackflag I am talking about you as well. Cinematics stutters and has severe screen tearing, textures lack details and the game models lack that lifelike quality Conviction had. I am surprised a game that runs on the Unreal Engine (Modified to LEAD) can be this bad.
Regardless of the flaws that Splinter Cell Blacklist has, its never a bad game. In fact its one of the best Splinter Cell games ever. ‘Team Sam Fisher’ fanboys rejoice! and as for the less inclined gamers it makes for a perfectly fun, adrenaline pumping stealth action game. Missing this wouldn’t mean much for the casual gamer but for true stealth fanatics this’ll be the best treat since Mark Of The Ninja.