on August 22, 2013
I have no problem saying that this is the best Splinter Cell game to date. Customization and (except for some forced sequences) the choice to tackle a problem however you want is refreshing when compared to most games out there in circulation right now. The only issue I had with the customization was that it requires you to purchase weapons and equipment in order instead of picking and purchasing what is available.
That being said, my only true problem has nothing to do with game play mechanics but with the voice acting. This is the first Splinter Cell where Micheal Ironside does not voice the protagonist Sam Fisher. Eric Johnson does a fine job on his own but his voice is nowhere near that of Ironside's. The whole time I couldn't shake the feeling that I was playing as someone else besides the Sam Fisher fan's of the series know and love and even when listening to the game I still tried my best to imagine Ironside's voice instead.
Great game, I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the stealth/action genre of gaming.
Next time Ubisoft bring back Ironside for the voice (let someone else motion capture, technology can do it) and you'll have absolutely one of the best games of the year.
on August 20, 2013
Splinter Cell: Blacklist is the latest installment in the beloved series. With Splinter Cell Conviction, Ubisoft decided to make the game less about stealth and more about brute force. Sure, there was the option at times of using stealth but I never felt the need to use it. With Blacklist however, stealth plays a much bigger role. Gone are the days when it was ok to charge headlong into a room emptying clip after clip on enemies. While I enjoyed Conviction, Blacklist takes all the good parts of Conviction and adds so much more to it.
For a game bearing Tom Clancy's name, the plot line is exactly what you would expect. Terrorists are threatening to destroy something and an elite group of soldiers have been given carte blanch to stop them. In this case, terrorists are threatening to destroy the United States by systematically taking out high value targets, or what they call the Blacklist -- things like energy, food; basically the backbones of the country. Sam Fisher of the elite 4th Echelon is tasked by the President to do anything necessary to stop the attacks. While the plot isn't spectacular, it serves it purposes to facilitate the missions and lead you towards the final encounter.
From the first mission it's evident that there is an enhanced fluidity to movement. It's easy to slip into the shadows, mantle over cover, climb up a pipe and drop down onto an unsuspecting enemy. There is a certain satisfaction in sitting in one spot for several minutes studying enemy movements to really plan out a route that will either let you slip by completely undetected, or to divide and conquer without raising any alarms. Each mission allows you to complete it any number of ways; some force you to remain undetected while others encourage it by sending in swarms of reinforcements. It proves beneficial to not start large scale gun battles.
One complaint I had with Splinter Cell Conviction was, while stealth was a game mechanic, there was very little true need to use it. That has completely changed with Blacklist. Sam Fisher can only take limited damage and when multiple enemies are attacking it can end very quickly. Planning before the mission is just as important. Deciding what gadgets and gear to equip before you put boots on the ground is imperative to making the mission go as smoothly as possible. There is a wide array of gadgets you can purchase with money earned during the mission such as smoke bombs, EMP grenades, sticky cameras, sleep gas grenades, etc. Depending on your play style, there is certain to be gear you will quickly fall in love with.
Graphically the game looks good. On Xbox there is an optional HD Texture pack that can be installed from disc 2. It's approximately 3 GBs of data; honestly if you have the space just download it for the full effect of the game. Lighting and shadows are well done. The lights on Sam's suit flare when you are under cover of darkness. They provide a nice indicator so you are not left guessing if you are in the shadows or not. Likewise, the sound track and effects are pretty good as well. They won't win any awards here, but they don't detract from the game either, but with one exception. I have a surround sound headset which is perfect for a stealth game like this. However, on more than one occasion the enemies footsteps did not mesh with where the enemy was on screen. This created some frustrating moments when I needed to go off enemy positions purely based on sound.
On top of the single player campaign there are two multiplayer offering as well. The first is the fan favorite Spies vs Mercs mode. Spies are elite, agile stealth-based characters who need to hack certain terminals, all done in third-person perspective. The Mercs and heavily armed, first-person based characters whose job is to stops the Spies from hacking or to kill the spy responsible for the hack before it completes. Playing as the Merc, there is always a sense of tension as you search for the spies, knowing at any moment you may be taken down by a lithe assailant. Conversely, as a Spy you know if you are caught in the open the fight will end quickly. There are a couple different modes within the Spies vs Mercs umbrella. Classic 2 vs 2, 4 vs 4, and then Uplink where there is a combination of Spies and Mercs on the same team. All three are high tension modes, but when you succeed luring an enemy into a kill spot and execute it to perfection, there are not many video game moments that can live up to it.
The other multiplayer mode is 14 Co-op based missions. These appear as side missions during the campaign, and all but 4 can technically be done solo. Yet, playing through these missions with a partner adds an entirely new level of strategy, planning, and tension. Executing double kills, having a partner distract a guard so the other can sneak up behind them and eliminate them is so rewarding. I have never hid the fact that I love co-op games, missions, or stories. While Conviction had a Co-op mode, it was a self-contained story and felt more like an add-on. The co-op in Blacklist feels and plays so well. Enemies rarely do the same thing no matter how many times you play a mission, so repeating the missions with different play styles, or partners, still offers an engaging experience.
I haven't enjoyed a Splinter Cell game this much since Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. Blacklist went back to the roots of what made it an outstanding game and added more variety and appealing gameplay. I have always been a fan of stealth-based games, a few games claim to be stealth-based but quickly become run and gun games where the only stealth is hiding when you are waiting for your health to regenerate. Blacklist is not one of those games. It's a game that forces you to plan ahead, and rewards you for good choices, and punishes you for rash decisions.
Stealth, that actually works and is beneficial
Amazing Co-op and MP modes
At times audio is out of sync with events on screen, most notable enemy footsteps
At times the control scheme gets in the way of the game
Splinter Cell Blacklist is the stealth game that Conviction promised it would be. With solid gameplay, and fantastic level design, it delivers many memorable moments while not sacrificing its true vision. Allowing the player to play anyway they want through almost each mission, and still feel as though it was the way the developers intended it, is a testament to how much Ubisoft wanted to get this right. Blacklist is a deeply rewarding game for those who take their time, plan, and execute a strategy. If you are looking for a fast paced, run and gun shooter - you can play like that. If you are looking for a game where you can sneak past virtually every enemy leaving nothing but a shadow behind, you can play like that. If you want something in between those you, you can do that as well. While Conviction was a decent game, Blacklist excels as a stealth -based game with loads of replayability. This is one game I will be trying to convince as many friends as I can to pick up. This one is simply too good to ignore.
on September 6, 2013
Love this game, reminds a lot of my favorite one in the series which was Chaos Theory. Great single player campaign that you can play again and again. But the multiplayer is where it's at, Spies vs Mercs nuff said. My only complaint is that I wish there was more multiplayer maps. Maybe they will release some in the form of DLC.
We were very lucky to get an advance copy of Blacklist for the 360 and have been playing it pretty relentlessly for the past couple of days. If you are a fan of stealth genre games in general (especially latter Splinter Cell games) and the bombastic ridiculous set pieces of Call of Duty/Uncharted then you will have a blast playing Blacklist.
The plot makes sense in some sort of alternate universe, but frankly it's just a vehicle for a globe-trotting backdrop and creative level design. Thankfully "Mark and Execute" make a welcome return from Conviction allowing for lots of RTS-lite entertainment. Deaths were frequent but the fun-factor high enough so that they were never a barrier to try and try again.
One of my personal issues that I have is that Michael Ironside is no longer the voice actor for Sam Fisher. Having played the series from its inception, this was more than a little irksome. The elephant in the room (Eric Johnson is the new voice and also provides the motion-capture for Sam) becomes immediately apparent when climbing into character. Fortunately, I'm happy to report that ultimately you will probably come to be comfortable if not pleased with Eric's voice talent (which he does in fact possess) before the end of the game as I did. He's still not Sam in my personal opinion, but I admit that he's growing on me. If Ubisoft can't commit to bring Michael back to the series, then sticking with Eric is a tolerable second option.
We haven't spent a bunch of time playing co-op -- which isn't exactly a harkening back to Chaos Theory -- but provides for plenty of fun for two people to kill and kill time. We spent most of our time plowing through waves of enemies in any way we could. The best part was that can be on the same screen as well as online! Hurray for couch co-op!!! Spies vs. Mercs is also back. However since we kept getting our butts handed to us we opted to spend the majority of our time swapping playing the single player which is both globe-hopping and fun, and most importantly doesn't ever feel like you're repeating yourself.
Running and gunning is only good for about the first third to half of the game, so you may want to brush up on your stealth skills on occasion in the early missions since you'll need to employ at least some of your gadgets from time to time to advance. A couple of missions are utterly dependent on them. That isn't to say that the game isn't merciful enough to allow for lots of trial and error, but even when you die that old Splinter Cell feeling comes back enticing you to try new angles and tactics.
And that's the bottom line. If you're invested in Splinter Cell you'll be pleased to invest in Blacklist which is in our opinion is the best stealth game in this generation on the 360 (for reference Deus Ex was a close second).
on September 7, 2013
I had mild expectations of the new splinter cell, wondering how they were going to meet EVERYONE'S expectations for stealth, panther, combat, multiplayer, story, gameplay and more. It pretty much exceeded all my expectations. Sam's new voice takes some time to get used to, but he has potential. Looking forward to the next installment!
I've played all the Splinter Cell games and loved them all, especially Conviction. Blacklist was tons of fun, I played through the campaign twice. I experimented with going through it "run and gun" style but since I've never done well playing any game that way, I quickly abandoned it in favor of my usual stealth. It was weird that a good number of the missions were during the day - I still was able to do it stealthily, but really.... during the day? Why did 4th Echelon choose to do a mission during the day? It didn't make sense but I tried not to think about it. A nice change in this game is there wasn't a lot of profanity - in Conviction, the enemy AI were nearly always yelling the F word, which can irritate some people. But in Blacklist, the enemy AI didn't yell profanity (thought I'd mention this in case it mattered to you).
So the gameplay was really fun, and I liked the storyline, but for me, this game does lack the character that previous Splinter Cell games had. By that of course, I'm referring to the new Sam Fisher voice actor who sounded a bit bland (I kept thinking of Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect series, and Sam looks like an older Shepard in this game), and it didn't help that the writers didn't give Sam Fisher the witty, unique lines like he's had in previous games ("Face, meet Wall. Wall, this is a Face."). There was some banter with a jailed character that *almost* came close, but not quite. I do recommend Blacklist, but I sure do miss Michael Ironside.
The best combination of stealth and assault yet!
Splinter Cell Blacklist is a great combination of using both stealth and assault attacks for various missions. The side missions each have their own style, some requiring absolute stealth while others almost require a visible attack. I did, however, run into a glitch at the end of the last coop mission for Briggs COOP Mission 4 and that is why I gave this game 4 instead of 5 stars. I and a random player from Xbox Live fought through the whole mission and got trapped in a non-completing sequence where we were left restarting the check point over and over to a hoard of enemies that eventually stopped and left us nothing to do. Other than that heartbreaker I would give the game 5 stars. (UPDATE: Ubisoft has stated a update is coming out to correct this glitch)
I really liked the purchasing of the weapons and gadgets as well as the ability to customize the components of most. This added a little extra fun for someone like me who is OCD with their games. The storyline was cool (as are all of the Xbox 360 games in this series). I was all in all happy with this purchase and would recommend this to anyone who likes games beyond "hack and slash" and FPS (first person shooter) genres
on September 7, 2013
Playing "Splinter Cell: Blacklist" offers feelings that were both foreign and familiar. Playing the game, I had a sense that I had been here before, long ago, but that the experience was new and refreshing. "Splinter Cell: Blacklist" evokes these feelings because it is, quite honestly, the perfect hybrid of what made the original "Splinter Cell" so great while still keeping relevant in today's changing gaming culture.
Die hard fans of "Splinter Cell" want their "Splinter Cell" to be fairly simple. I am silent. I am deadly, but I do my job best when I move through this environment with full deniability. I have a Fifth Freedom, but this is the freedom to not take a life inasmuch as it is to end a life. "Splinter Cell" accommodates this in many ways. What it also accommodates is the modern mindset of pure reckless abandon; chaos with an iron fist. The ability to rush a level and let pure shooter skill decide who is left standing. You can do this too in "Splinter Cell" and...oddly enough... it never betrays itself.
The game performs this very delicate balancing act a few ways. The first is the game's campaign has each mission (and there are more than expected) playable in one of 3 methods. "Ghost" (which has players being unseen/detected and using non-lethal methods), "Panther" (Unseen but exceptionally deadly), and "Assault" (Go loud... there are no survivors.) You can select gear in an almost RPG fashion that fits your play style. Your pants, for example, may be more effective at stealth with little armor and are purchased through credits earned in-game. You may very well have the intention to go "silent" during your mission, but you are dedicated to that task. Need to kill a guard because it's most efficient for your particular goal? No problem. Do it. You aren't penalized outright with a failure (in most cases...more in a moment) and it isn't until the end of the mission where you are rated and scored on how you accomplished your goal. The more you play, the more you may want to switch your play style. The game keeps track of how you've beat levels so you may very well feel comfortable going loud and deadly on your next go through just to see how it feels (and it does feel good.)
Your main mission screen is the "Paladin," the flying air fortress where Sam's Fourth Echelon now resides. I will not go into details as they are pertinent to the story, but here you can play the campaign and access the other features.
Other features include level types for different characters such as a Co-op only mode where you MUST play with another player (On Xbox360 and PS3 this is Splitscreen enabled as well), a "horde" style mode (that you can choose to play in the same styles as standard missions making for an interesting time,) a full blown GHOST mode (enemies cannot spot you or it is mission over) and a few other little goodies.
Back to those who missed it is "Spys VS Mercs." There are changes here however but nothing too crazy. Spies do wield DEADLY weapons, no more stun weapons. These weapons however are weak in comparison to the Mercs and a good Merc does have a pretty good setup.
I suggest this game to fans of the "Splinter Cell" franchise as well as newcomers. There is enough information here that all can enjoy. I will say that if you're a fan of the series, there are a few moments where I, literally, jumped up and yelled "That's Bad@$#!" That happens rarely in my world of "always awesome."
I will mention the ONE gripe I have had with this game. I will say that when I heard Michael Ironside wasn't reprising his role, I openly stated that the new guy is probably good enough and we should give him a shot. New persons to the series will find little wrong with him, but as a fan of the series I did have a few gripes. The guy did a decent job, make no mistake. The PROBLEM is they wrote for this guy, not for SAM FISHER, or even Michael Ironside. This is evident in a few interactions with Sam and his partners. I won't spoil anything but these interactions are almost mirrored with what those who feel they know Sam might witness. In addition to this, the guy's lines felt light in contrast and, honestly, I would have been happier if the story was this was Sam's Protégé and he was dating/attempting to date Sarah (Sam's Daughter.)
Given that gripe, there are still some amazing gameplay experiences in "Splinter Cell: Blacklist" and if you were on the fence and looking for an action packed game with an interesting story and a cool payoff... sneak this one into your shopping cart. You're Bad@$$ enough... you earned it. -Adam
Sam Fisher is back in Splinter Cell: Blacklist, the latest entry in the Splinter Cell series. First off, we'll just put it out there that Michael Ironside no longer voices main character Sam Fisher, a detail that will undoubtedly be disappointing to those who have been with the series since the beginning. It's a little jarring to hear this new actor in the role, Eric Johnson, as he comes off as a younger sounding Fisher, vaguely channeling Ironside. In all honesty, as sad as I am that Ironside is no longer voicing the role, Johnson does a good enough job that it's not a game breaker. In fact, this game is probably the best one in the series.
Blacklist comes spread across two discs with the main single player campaign spread out over both and an installable HD texture pack that comes loaded on the second disc. The gameplay feels like a marriage of the best bits of the first few games in the series and the more action oriented stylings of Splinter Cell: Conviction, the last entry in the series. Stealth based gameplay is once again put in the forefront but you can still pull off the same cover switching and tag/execute moves that were introduced in Conviction. This is easily the best controlling game of them all and everything that Sam can do becomes second nature fairly quickly. It's a bit complicated but becomes very intuitive once you get it down. The graphics are pretty good but nothing mind blowing, which is interesting considering that the game comes with the aforementioned HD texture pack. The story is typical techies and anti-terrorist fare that gets confusing and overly familiar (especially if you've played any other Tom Clancy game) but the nerve wracking gameplay and scenarios more than make up for any shortcomings in the game's story.
The multiplayer portion marks the return of Spies Vs. Mercs, which initially made its debut in Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow and would appear again in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. It's easily the best feature of the game and makes for some intense player matches. What it essentially boils down to is a high tech game of rock, paper, scissors. Spies try to hack terminals and have a whole arsenal of gadgets and items at their disposal. The Mercs job is to stop them using their own gadgets and items as countermeasures to whatever the spies are using and vice versa. Blacklist mode ups the classic count of players from 2v2 to 4v4. You can still play in a classic format which is closer to the original way it played but in Blacklist mode, you have four spies duking it out with four mercs in what can only be described as mayhem mixed with scrambling around trying to pass itself off as coordinated stealth. It's a blast to play and the better you get at it, the more fun it becomes. It requires constant communication between teammates and when you get a room going where everyone is playing for keeps, you get multiplayer goodness that is a welcome departure from your typical first person shooter online madness. There's a high level of customization when it comes to tricking out your spies or mercs and making them perfect becomes an engaging affair. Some may say that hardcore gaming barely exists but Spies vs. Mercs is here to prove that it's not gone entirely.
If you're a fan of Splinter Cell, rest assured that Ubisoft has done right by you. You get not just a solid single player experience but a phenomenal multiplayer one as well and a ton of replay value for your hard earned money.
on October 6, 2013
When I first got this game, I enjoyed it, but there are times I really hate it. Here's a few. You have a weapon, you walk by guys with weapons, and then suddenly you are in a contrived scene where you have no weapons. The random 1st person shooter is also annoying. I don't like games that change the rules within the game. How come if I avoid a guy and go to the next level, it counts as a panther kill? So even though I've been non lethal on the whole level, you give me credit for a kill? I really did like this game, but there are parts where it out and out sucks. Here's another. Forced internet coops. This could have been a 10 and maybe a forgivable 8, but there are points I hate it. It's not because of it's hard, but because it's arbitrary, faulty logic and poor development.