GAME: Splinter Cell Blacklist
Release date: 23rd August 2013
No spoilers Included in this review
Story: 8 / 10
Following the events of Splinter Cell: Conviction, Patricia Caldwell, the President of the United States, shuts down the corrupt Third Echelon and replaces it with a new special operations and counter-terrorism unit called Fourth Echelon – a team of elite operatives drawn from different agencies, who operate in a mobile environment and perform missions assigned directly by the Commander in Chief, led by former Third Echelon agent Sam Fisher. When a group of twelve terrorists calling themselves “The Engineers” initiate a deadly countdown of escalating attacks on United States assets called “The Blacklist”, Fisher and his team are assigned to hunt them down and stop the Blacklist countdown before it reaches zero.
Control feel: 7 / 10
I was expecting some fluid movement, smooth transitions from one spot to another but instead I found it very jerky. Whilst the basic controls were fine and easy to get to grips with I found myself doubling back to take the correct course of action quite a few times. Even basic controls and commands which in Splinter Cell I expect such as when you approach a door do I open it or take a peek with the snake camera? This was frustrating and I found myself opening doors when i wanted to peek as they have the same button command. Stealth actions on the whole though were quite easy to do, for the most part you had time to think about your next move and then could wait to execute it.
Now when that all goes to s*** and you alert a guard, a man of Sam Fishers stature and experience should be able to floor them in no time and with precision accuracy, well call me rusty, aiming was not easy! Even with slowing down the cross hair movement, headshots were vital as it could take up to 6 bullets otherwise and with more guards on the way. It took loads of missions to get a firm grip on the targets fast and accurate so persevere you will get there or take the full stealth option and not have to kill anyone, you choose.
But putting aside the couple of bad points, Sam navigates and traverses obstacles, walls and pipes very well, coupled with some nice and easy camera movement it was a pleasure to play once the niggles had been avoided. Sliding between various cover points an pulling your enemy down were nice and easy to execute and when certain “special” moments present themselves, those kills will put a smile on your face.
Graphics: 9 / 10
Games like Splinter cell Blacklist have such high expectations, especially with the likes of Ubisoft putting so many hours into it, we create an almost unachievable level of expectation. I am happy to say though, that blacklist does live up to expectations, aside from recent Xbox One coverage and videos, this is the best looking game I have seen in a long time.
Whilst I normally don’t care much for cut scenes, I found myself watching all of them throughout the story, the facial features are some of the finest you will find, this may be down to the small number of characters involved in cutscenes but its certainly a fact I’m willing to overlook.
In game its also a great visual experience, not the best but still damm good. Close up, (and you spend alot of time there) features you normally expect to see pixelated are clean and sharp. Lighting plays such an important in Splinter Cell games of past and blacklist is no exception, shadow and lighting effects are great, and you will have to decide if you have enough cover or not before proceeding.
Sound: 8.5 / 10
So the idea of Splinter Cell Blacklist is to sneak around and take people down with the minimal amount of fuss and complete the mission! Well you cant expect beating background music and bells and whistles then can you! And sure enough you don’t have to listen to it. So the devil is in the detail, listen to the enemies, when i turn around can I hear them as well? What does my surroundings do to help disguise my movements? Well grab some turtle beach, Ubisoft have delivered a fantastic piece, if this were in the charts it would have made the top ten no problems.
Where most games can cover the action and environment behind some high tempo beats, Ubisoft have duly noted that gamers will use the sound to their advantage and unwittingly be focusing on the footsteps and splash of puddles to position enemies and plan their attacks or infiltration.
Gameplay: 9.5 /10
Get comfy there is alot to tell you about. Lets begin where you will most likely starting point, The campaign. As you should now know you have a limited amount of time before the blacklist reaches Zero Sam and the team of Fourth Echelon elite agents must stop the blacklist.
Previous Splinter Cell players will find resembling features and sequences of the gameplay throughout but the big difference this time round is the ability to play the game the way you choose.
Your rules Your way as Ubisoft so elegantly put it. Choose to go Stealth, Panther or Assault. Each mission will give you vital statistics and feedback to tell you how you are doing, this not only enables you to personally set yourself targets or better decide how to play the game but also to choose your upgrades more carefully.
As a more assault style of player I opted to improve my stealth and go for the upgrades focusing on stealth, that way my clunky poorly planned moves would be disguised a little, and oh yes, feline feet ninja style invisible ghost, just some of the words I could use to describe myself when I finished with my chosen upgrades.
Ubisoft have done a great job at giving power to the player and letting them choose their style of play. Then you need to put it all to use, with so many gadgets, you can get a little creative and the game even gives you some fun obvious pointers like the stun gun in……. you’ll have to wait and find out but it will hopefully spark your imagination and that coupled with the odd whistle to draw your enemies attention and a few other gadgets will keep you up for hours thinking up new and amusing ways to kill your unsuspecting foe.
The campaign is set in a huge array of surroundings and with lots of objectives over the campaign and then as if the mission alone wasn’t enough for you to have to deal with, your team members all have their own side missions to contend with each providing different challenges to complete along the way, this provides a nice mix of gameplay and styles for the gamer. You can choose what mission you do in what order and let your decisions shape the game. Whilst not a completely new concept, few have been successful in their efforts but Ubisoft have pulled it of in Splinter Cell Blacklist
Now I like games with buddies, I mean we are on Xbox Live for a reason and it ain’t to hear 10 year olds scream at us online when we take them out. Find a pal and set off in the co-op missions together and I’m not going to spoil them for you but, the one thing I will tell you is that you should lock the door behind you as your going have your partner dragging you kicking and screaming out of the room before you put the controller down, not only do you get hours of gameplay but some of the most enjoyable missions in a co-op for a long time.
Spies vs Mercs, yes the reason many have been looking forward to this last installment of Sam Fisher on the Xbox 360 was Spies vs Mercs. As a beginner on the multiplayer element I was really looking forward to this, Infiltrate and take out the objectives whilst preventing the mercs from disarming. Simple really so what in the world could make that such a disaster on my first outing out? INVISIBILITY, REALLY, in my first game i get killed 15 times but a seasoned vet with massive upgrades I could only dream of, that I couldn’t even see! Two can play at that game and although my wife threatened to leave me I carried on and got my upgrades and WOW online is awesome. Be prepared, I’m sure a army sector has that as a motto or something, well in Splinter Cell Spies vs Mercs be prepared to die until you get yourself some of those sweet upgrades, but I promise you, as you do the fun begins!
Having such high hopes for a game is dangerous, having been burned so many times in the past I was afraid it had happened again, but after a couple of hours I was drawn into the great story and variety of missions I had to accomplish. Although the movement bugged me in places, you soon forget it when your busy scouting your surroundings and planning those special attacks that will give you that resounding smile of satisfaction as you take down your enemy.
Graphically ingame lets it down just a little but coupled with the cutscenes this is one of the nicest games to look at this year. All this tied in with the co-op and multiplayer make Splinter Cell Blacklist one of the games of the year for me, and those of you thinking about holding off buying games until the Xbox One comes out, DONT, Your local game store deserves a visit from you and £40 of your hard earned cash, Splinter Cell Blacklist is a keeper.
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