Splinter Cell: Blacklist Will Cater To Your Style Of Play
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell was first launched in 2002, where it quickly become one of Ubisoft’s most successful franchises. The series currently has five different mainstream console and PC editions available, where August’s release of Blacklist will be the sixth.
Alongside PC and console versions of the game, Ubisoft has released fan fiction with further plans for a movie.
Ubisoft’s upcoming installment to the Splinter Cell series is titled Blacklist, and it is said to act as a sequel to 2010’s Conviction release.
Name: Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Genre: Action-Adventure, Stealth
Multiplayer: Co-Op, 2-on-2
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U
Developers: Ubisoft Toronto
Release Date: 23 August 2013
Price: R329 (PC); R509 (Console)
As a sequel, Blacklist will follow the events of Conviction where United States President Patricia Caldwell shuts down the corrupt Third Echelon in favour of a special, new, Fourth Echelon. The fundamental difference is that the new Echelon will draw operatives from different agencies, allowing them to operate in a mobile environment. Keeping true to the series, Sam Fisher will play an integral role in all of this.
Blacklist’s story takes place around six months after Conviction, and it revolves around 12 terrorists who call themselves “The Engineers”. This particular group is planning to initiate a deadly countdown of escalating attacks on United States’ assets, called “The Blacklist”. Sam Fisher–and his team–are commissioned to hunt down The Engineers and stop the Blacklist countdown before it reaches zero.
Keeping true to the series, Sam Fisher will be the star. However, returning characters from previous installments include previous ally Anna ‘Grim’ Grímsdóttir, and Victor Coste and Andriy Kobin from Conviction. New characters in the game are Isaac Briggs and Charlie Cole.
As the sixth main installment to the series, Ubisoft has invested time and money in creating new features and modes for players to enjoy.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist includes a new gameplay mechanic called “Killing in Motion”. This feature will simplify the game, as players are able to highlight targets to be eliminated in quick succession while on the run.
Another feature is one that allows owners of Microsoft’s Kinect to use the device as an in-game asset. Ubisoft has created functionality that allows players to distract enemies using the voice integration features of the Kinect system.
However, that’s not all. Ubisoft has added further functionality for Kinect owners: those who are truly brave will be able to control the game’s protagonist with the sensor, as opposed to the standard remote control.
Ubisoft saw 2010’s Conviction release as a ‘rescue job’, a game that aimed to bring back the glory of the series. While Conviction was not horribly successful, nor was it unsuccessful, the producers of Blacklist sat down and researched much of the Conviction fan feedback, in an attempt to deliver the best Blacklist experience possible. One leading issue was that players felt that Conviction was too short with a limited scope, therefore one can expect Blacklist to change that.
Although Blacklist seems to be some sort of action-packed game, the developers have created various approaches for players to undertake. Firstly, one can be the Ghost player–someone who does not want to kill or be detected. Secondly, there is the Assault player, the player who runs in guns blazing. Lastly–and what Ubisoft calls the Panther–is the player who wants to be clean and tactical. The Panther is not full-stealth, but rather smooth and quiet and aims to eliminate targets when necessary.
To ensure that these player types are possible, Ubisoft will, for the first time, allow an upgradable equipment setting. Whenever the player changes out one of the five customisable equipment offerings, the game will change accordingly. Therefore, the game’s setting will be determined by the equipment brought to the mission. Certain gadgets can make guns more powerful, whereas others can make the protagonist more stealthy.
It seems that Ubisoft wants to give control to the player, to let him or her choose how to play. Players are therefore forced to choose their own path, be it brute-force or stealth. However, despite this, there is no guarantee that players looking for ‘stealth-only’ will get away without killing anyone. There may be a time where this is the only way to progress.
Ubsioft’s multiplayer addition for Blacklist sees the return of the “Spies vs. Mercs” competitive mode, as well as co-op play. The Spies vs. Mercs mode is essentially a two-on-two battle, forcing one side to take the role of computer-hacking spies–played in third-person, and the other as Mercs–played in first-person. Each side has an advantage, stealth vs. firepower, for example.
Suspected Selling Points
- Ability to play to one’s preference: Ghost, Assault, or Panther;
- Bettered the experiences and mistakes from the previous game;
- Inclusion of the popular Spies vs. Mercs multiplayer mode;
- Great functionality for Microsoft Kinect owners; and
- Ability to customise the hardware used, inadvertently changing the game’s dynamic to create a unique experience.
- As a follow-on to Conviction, Blacklist may isolate players, or alternatively not be a successful sequel in terms of story offering;
- Killing in Motion may make things too easy;
- Standardised action approach, where the game caters too much to newcomers, isolating fans;
- The change of voice actors for Sam Fisher due to motion capture requirements; and
- Removal of an interactive torture sequence could lead the developers to tone down the realism of the game in favour of pleasing critics.
Splinter Cell has always intrigued me. The game offers a lot of elements that makes gaming enjoyable. The stealthy aspects offer a great amount of fun with a dash of challenge. Sneaking around sets the tone that ‘this is important’. Therefore, with that being said, my only worry is that Ubisoft does what they do best: creates a game that is overly catering to new comers. A game that is so hardcore action packed that it is hard to distinguish it from whatever else is out there. One does not need to look further than Ubisoft’s other franchises to find examples.
A leading concern that supports the aforementioned view is the inclusion of “Killing in Motion”, does this feature not create simplicity on the fly?
While I am more than willing to look past that, I can only sincerely hope that Ubisoft’s approach to a more player-orientated setting is very prominent. By allowing the player to choose stealth, guns-blazing, or in-between, sounds promising. That, coupled with the dynamic changes made to the game through gadgets chosen, seems like it could be very successful. If Splinter Cell: Blacklist can cater to all sorts of audiences without isolating one for the mainstream approach, I feel that it can be more of a step-forward for gaming, as opposed to a successful game on its own.
A final grievance includes the removal of an interactive torture scene. While I understand why this was removed (due to furor from critics), I can–once again–only hope that further scenes were not removed as a preemptive measure to ensure success and less outcry.
Finally, Splinter Cell’s Sam Fisher will sound somewhat different this time around, as a new voice actor will play the part. The reason for this is because of the mobility required during motion capturing–and that’s something we should not really worry about.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist will launch on the 23rd of August, on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC and the Wii U.