We can all agree that games which require being stealthy can be very fun and challenging. You just enjoy sneaking past a guard and leaving him alone like nothing happened. Such games like Metal Gear Solid, Thief taught us this art of being stealthy. The newcomer to this genre was Splinter Cell developed by Ubisoft. And it became quite successful for being interesting, having nice gameplay, voice acting and nice graphics. And most of all it was all about being stealthy in different locations on your elite ops missions. The game became a very known franchise and obviously sold millions. Up till 4th game Splinter Cell was outstanding, always bringing something fresh and new to franchise and learning on past mistakes. The 4th game wasn’t that good, it tried something new but it was still true to its source. Splinter Cell Conviction dropped stealth aspect completely and became just your everyday 3rd person shooter. There was no stealth except for just hiding behind a wall and then popping your enemies head with your pistol which had unlimited ammo for some reason and also brought us new thing called “Mark And Execute” to quickly dispose of enemies in just 1 shot kill. The game didn’t require skill at all to master it. It was a disgrace to franchise and many believed that Splinter Cell was officially dead. But now we got a new one, called Splinter Cell: Blacklist and it was promised to come back to original trilogy roots. How far did it go back? Here is your answer.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist is a sequel to Conviction and starts some years later, where Sam Fisher becomes new leader of newly formed 4th Echelon, because new threat was upon USA, a band of terrorists called themselves “The Engineers” started launching different attacks on USA and killing innocent people, so it was up to Sam Fisher to form quickly new team of his, with former friend Anna ‘Grim’ Grímsdóttir and some new guys to help out. And right of the bat here is what the game fails to deliver us most important thing, our main character. Sam Fisher is no longer Sam Fisher we used to know. He is no longer being voiced by veteran actor Michael Ironside, thus making a false impression on fanbase, next while he is supposed to be more than 50 years old, he strangely enough climbs buildings like a teenager. And finally the new voice actor doesn’t give him justice. Sam sounds boring and unnatural. After all 5 games we used to hear gruff voice of veteran and a man who saved world many times from different attacks and who is supposed to be old here we get a teenager, boy scout. In 3 words it’s just redesigned Commander Shepard from Mass Effect, and strangely enough there are similarities to his design from same game. But apart from destroying nice character the game manages to deliver us solid gameplay which almost plays like original trilogy.
You can have 3 different choices to play each mission. “Ghost”, which is described as being very stealthy and trying to evade as much enemies as possible, “Panther” which is all about killing everybody but quiet so no alarms or shootouts can happen, and finally 3rd option called “Assault”, where you go guns blazing on every living soul. The 3rd option seems quite out of place in Splinter Cell game, but alas all people make bad choices how to make game more appealing to younger audience while hardcore fans get something not inspiring or worth their devotion to franchise. As it was mentioned, Sam moves very smoothly and can grab his enemies from very far places, hanging on ledges, or behind cover. It’s nice to see that developers returned us ability to hide bodies in containers or other places. Other bad feature may get on some nerves is that even with night vision being back from previous games you can’t have all “visions” at the same time. That’s why you have a new customization option. Here you can change your outfits, your guns, your sonar color and even change your stealth or armor attributes. And by completing missions you get money you can spend on upgrading your guns and gadgets, or same new colors for your outfits. And in your mobile base Paladin 9 you can upgrade it as well to make your life a bit easier. It may not be perfect but a saving grace for hardcore fans is to play the game on “Perfectionist” difficulty, as it disables “Mark and Execute” ability and makes obviously game much harder and challenging.
The voice acting and music are great. It’s like watching a live-action movie. There is always some kind of suspense in the air and you always wonder what is going to happen next. But of course voice acting of Fisher isn’t that great at all. And there is no denying that Fisher character is completely destroyed and fans uproar is understandable.
The graphics got much better since Conviction and everything looks much better than before.
Finallly to add there are also 2 more mods to play. Coop with another friend for some additional missions which can also played alone. Coop is so much better and fun to play, you get maps which are quite big and you still have lots of room to learn and plan your every new move, and coop partner can be very helpful if he isn’t new to the game. And fan favorite return of Spies Vs Mercenaries. And multiplayer just got completely redesigned in a bad way. It’s not same MP from Pandora Tomorrow or even Chaos Theory. It’s just Gears of War meets modern shooter. You have your particular ranking system where 4vs4 beat each other in many different modes like deathmach, uplink or same hacking different devices. Spies must try use stealth and hack, while mercs from 1st Person view must protect those targets. But a kicker is that, whole MP is unbalanced. You get different perks to help yourself while on the other hand people can just try and rush each other hiding spots and kill them where they are. This is not returning to original roots, it’s just downgrade of original and spiting on it.
All in all the game is fine to play no doubt, if you aren’t that interested in MP you don’t lose that much there is still solid SP and also nice COOP. Customization is nice addition and atmosphere is nice. The downsides are obvious downgrade of MP and killing off iconic character. If it’s not the end of Splinter Cell hopefully Ubisoft will listen to fans feedback and bring back Michael Ironside to voice Sam Fisher. Because he made character we all love and respect, we don’t want another hero wannabe and destroy what we hold important for us. 8/10.