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Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist
Platform for Display: Xbox 360Edition: StandardChange
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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2013
Platform for Display: Xbox 360Edition: StandardVerified Purchase
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.
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45 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2013
Platform for Display: Xbox 360Edition: Standard
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.

Pros
Stealth, that actually works and is beneficial
Amazing Co-op and MP modes
Fluid movement

Cons

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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2013
Platform for Display: Xbox 360Edition: StandardVerified Purchase
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.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Platform for Display: Xbox 360Edition: StandardVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist gives you three options for playing and awards you depending on your playing style. There is Ghost which is non-lethal stealth, Assault which is fairly much full bore rush in and shoot anything that moves and then there's Panther which is a middle ground between the two extremes. I think most people will play the Panther style game though the options are there for you to choose whichever style you wish.

The basic premise of the game is that you have various missions to complete. Each mission gives you cash which you can then use to upgrade the equipment you carry, the combat suit you wear or the plane you use as a home base.

Graphics wise the game is very good with realistic movement of the characters and details set into the backgrounds.

Sound is also very good. You know it's good when you don't really pay attention to it, it kind of just fades into the background but then you hear footsteps and you are instantly on guard trying to find who's making them and where they are.

Gameplay is where its at however. This game, in my opinion, is not really designed for a single player. It's more designed for co-op play (there are certain missions that are co-op only). Co-op mode splits the screen vertically with one player on each side and the graphics scaled appropriately and it works well. You do lose you radar (an option that you can buy for your aircraft) which is a bit of a pain but otherwise the game works very well in co-op. The major thing I would have to say about the gameplay however is that I think they've set it too hard. Some missions my friend and I have found extremely difficult to complete, even in co-op mode which should give you a better chance, when the level setting is supposed to be on Rookie. It's certainly a very hard game and not one for people who like casual shooters (ala Far Cry 3).

One other thing worth saying is that the game comes on two DVDs (Xbox). The second DVD basically consists of the hi-res graphics package. Although it's worth installing this for better graphics (doesn't slow the game down in any way once installed), it does take about 30 minutes just to install and unpack this.

Overall there is a lot to like about this game, lots of options and ways to play it and even a re-play factor in that you can go back and play the game a different way once you complete it, just beware of the difficulty level.

Graphics : 8/10
Sound : 9/10
Gameplay : 6/10
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2013
Platform for Display: Xbox 360Edition: StandardVerified Purchase
Splinter Cell: Blacklist is an unfortunate case of not being the sum of its parts. It has all the makings of a great game--and it is by no means a bad game; however, it fails to deliver on its potential.

Having played the previous entry, Splinter Cell: Conviction, and greatly enjoying it, I was very much looking forward to returning to the shadows with Sam Fisher in a new entry to the series. Conviction's strong gameplay and Michael Ironside's great vocal performance really carried the game far. While Conviction's plotline was a bit of a nonsensical mess at times, it dealt with the intriguing notion of Sam returning from retirement to deal with his past organization's corruption.

It stood to follow that a follow-up to this game with more polished game play and expanded mechanics would be a surefire hit. Unfortunately, there are a number of issues with Blacklist that prevent it from matching or even surpassing the bar set by its predecessor.

Firstly, the plot in Blacklist--while no less nonsensical than Conviction's--feels uninspired. How many current generation shooters have beat the dead horse trope of America versus the evil Terrorists? Furthermore, in a time when we are more sensitive to secret (and perhaps illegal) government spying, Blacklist's conviction to the theme that "the ends justify the means" and its concept of the "Fifth Freedom" (the idea that sometimes you have to break the law to save it) makes it difficult to resonate with the player. Granted, the current political scene is beyond Ubisoft's control; however, they had a real opportunity to provide social commentary on these issues and perhaps explore the necessities and limitations of such doctrines. Unfortunately, these ideas are presented with little thought or commentary on them, which really contributes to a feeling flatness to the story. It is just disappointing since there was ample opportunity to go beyond the mindless tropes that are rehashed far too often.

Contributing to the lifeless story is the noticeable absence of Michael Ironside as Sam Fisher. Ubisoft argues that they wanted an actor that could both voice and do motion capture. This is understandable to an extent; however, it is a bit puzzling why they did not retire the character and allow for a new protagonist to step into the series. Nonetheless, I was prepared to dismiss the voice change as non-issue prior to the game release. Little did I know how much Ironside's powerful delivery really helps provide the binding that holds the plot of the story together and maintains its story's flow. At best, the new voice actor can be described as generic and mediocre. At worst, he is underwhelming and out of place. Fisher is in his fifties at this point, however he sounds like a man in his 20s. This is painfully apparent in his side conversations with his 20-something daughter, where he sounds like he could be her age. Sadly, without Ironside, the plot's shortcomings become even more apparent and glaring.

The Villain is both a high point and a low point for Blacklist. He is interesting and mysterious and (more importantly) seems to be a match for Sam Fisher and his Fourth Echelon team. However, the downside is that his character is never fully explored and his motivations never explained at the end (which is more frustrating and disappointing than a one-note villain whose agenda is obvious).

The supporting cast does little to help with the above shortfalls. The CIA coop operative is forgettable and Charlie, the new hipster tech specialist, comes off as annoying. The idea of an aircraft mission hub where you can interact with the crew (a la Mass Effect) is an interesting idea; however, it feels wasted as I never felt like I much cared what the rest of the crew thought.

This leaves the gameplay, which has not changed drastically from Conviction. Conviction added a number controversial changes to the series' stealth gameplay, namely the mark and execute. This returns to Blacklist; however, is disabled in expert level of play. The player is scored on differing play styles (e.g. Ghost for being undetected, Panther for being deadly stealth, and Combat for being loud and decidedly un-spy-like). These scores play into how you earn money which is how you buy upgrades for Sam's gadgets, kit, and plane. The upgrade system has expanded from the previous game, but it still feels mostly superficial.

There are two troubling aspects of gameplay in Blacklist. The first is a number of sections of the game where the player must control a UAV flying overhead or a stationary sniper rifle. These feel like cheap attempts to emulate some of the set piece moments of the Call of Duty series and they come across as half-baked and out of place. Secondly, there are a number of missions where the use of loud force is encouraged (however still not required). For a game series that is about spies, it is both out-of-place and irritating to be asked to hold out against a number of enemies using grenades and loud assault rifles. The gameplay doesn't lend itself too well to this either, as I found myself having to retry these sections a number of times as Sam became quickly overwhelmed.

When Sam is being stealthy, however, the gameplay excels. Sam's ability to use the environment to his advantage and melt into the shadows returns. When used sparingly, stealth take downs married to mark and executes makes the player feel appropriately empowered. The addition of heavy armored enemies provides an interesting wrinkle to the mark-and-execute ability which keeps it from feeling over powered. Even still, there is a nagging feeling that more could be done to improve the mechanics introduced in Conviction. The cover mechanic seems a bit stale and dated at this point. I found myself having to fight the cover system to get Sam to maneuver as I intended. The ability to round corners while in cover would have made things much easier, but--alas--it was not included.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist was by no means a bad game; however, what it does right is overshadowed by its wasted potential.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2013
Platform for Display: Xbox 360Edition: Standard
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!
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25 of 34 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 20, 2013
Platform for Display: Xbox 360Edition: StandardVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Platform for Display: Xbox 360Edition: StandardVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 30, 2013
Platform for Display: Xbox 360Edition: StandardVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2013
Platform for Display: Xbox 360Edition: StandardVerified Purchase
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
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