Splinter Cell’s Complexity Is Holding It Back
With more and more games getting homogenised, standardised and easier it’s refreshing to see games that want to be all about stealth or look to give you a challenge. Not everything has to have lots of action, Nolan North and hyper-realistic graphics to be good.
Splinter Cell is one of those series that has somewhat tried to stay true to its stealth roots but has also let the homogenisation influence creep in to accommodate a wider audience net. We saw the same with last year’s Hitman Absolution which was a great stealth affair but also had an action outlet for players who wished to play the game that way.
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Splinter Cell: Blacklist has action elements but is also aiming to take the series back to its challenging and complex stealth origins. This, according to Ubisoft Toronto boss Jade Raymond, is what’s holding the series back in terms of popularity.
Speaking with Eurogamer, Raymond offered her own theory on why Splinter Cell hasn’t hit the same heights as its stablemates, “One of the things that held it back is despite all of the changes that have happened over the years, it’s still one of the more complex and difficult games to play.
“Even though we do have core fans who are like, ‘Oh, I want to have more of this experience,’ when you play any other game that has stealth elements, they’re all a lot more forgiving than Splinter Cell. I guess Splinter Cell stayed with the most pure approach to that stealth experience.”
Raymond acknowledged that previous entry Splinter Cell Conviction took a more action-heavy approach, but stressed that Blacklist is a return to form, and the stealth ideals that founded the franchise.
“Splinter Cell still really is a thinking game,” she added. “It’s really about being intelligent and taking that time in the first phase to plan out how you’re going to do things, and understanding the elements, and even planning your gadgets and your load-out and being smart about it.
“That’s where you get the thrill, but it’s a different way of playing than most games on the market these days.”
Sure, Splinter Cell may not be on the same level as, say, Assassin’s Creed but that franchise started off well and then strayed so far from its roots that it hardly appeals to its original fans anymore. Perhaps we actually need to focus on these more niche games and sub-genres rather than making every game target a macro-genre and as many gamers as possible. It hasn’t worked out for EA.
That said, Splinter Cell hasn’t exactly been sticking to its roots all these years. Do you think Blacklist may be changing that? Based on gameplay footage it does look like an intriguing stealth affair but nothing great just yet.