Many games reach high, but few succeed in creating a great experience for the player. Many try to perfectly combine all the elements to create a perfect game or make one particular element stand out. Many fail, but Splinter Cell: Blacklist does not. It combines exciting gameplay and fun multiplayer in order to create a must buy game.
The game is not meant to tell a story as some past titles in this series have done, with Splinter Cell: Conviction being the most prominent among them. The story is simple – Sam Fisher is tasked by the president to take down a terrorist group, called the Engineers, in order to prevent a series of escalating attacks, called the Blacklist. The team, the newly established Fourth Echelon, includes Grim returning from previous games, Charlie being on the support side, Briggs as the second splinter cell and Andriy Kobin as the arms dealer eternally stuck in a cell. That’s all you need to know.
The gameplay is a lot of fun. You, the player, are fast and your motions are fluid. You can climb up a wall, jump though a window and get on a zipline in several quick and fluid motions without any special timing. The game can be as challenging as you want since there are many features to make life a little bit easier. You’re a hard core stealth fan – this game can be quite hard at times and there is such a thing as perfectionist difficulty. Are you new to stealth games? Don’t worry, the game can be very easy and there are many assists like the mark and execute system, gadgets and suit upgrades. The game’s difficulty also scales evenly and the action and story rarely falter. Gadgets that range from mines to noisemakers and allow the player to remain undetected for longer or destroy all foes without mercy, though it is possible to get through the game without using any gadgets. The gadgets, weapons and suit upgrades are available for in-game dollars and can be customized in any way the player wants. This game has almost 20 types of goggles for Sam to wear in the singleplayer campaign, enough said.
Blacklist’s enemies are varied, realistic and very smart. From the simple guard to the heavy to the Raven agent, they provide a challenge that players will be forced to overcome. What’s more, their behavior is highly realistic. In order to sound an alert, the guard will have to yell or talk into his radio, which can give a desperate player the half a second necessary to pump him full of lead or hit him with a sticky shocker. Running up to your quarry and taking them down in hand to hand is an easy way to deal with a lower level enemy. Later in the game enemies will be harder to deal with, especially enemies with heavy armor, which can only be taken down from behind, or enemies that will jam your goggles and deploy drones on seek and destroy missions.
The game’s visuals are great and the levels are well designed, though it should be noted that at times the game seems more like an Uncharted than a Splinter Cell game. Several sequences are little more than on the rails thriller rides, like escaping from an incoming drone attack on a village by running for the extraction point as everything is blown up around you. Blacklist differs from the iconic series as well in the sense that many environments are in the daytime, which is a departure from the stealth in the dark gameplay of previous games. The environments are varied ranging from European capitals to villages in Afghanistan. The truth is the game looks great, the levels are well designed and varied, there is little to dislike in this game from a visual standpoint. The sounds are well done, but they aren’t anything to write home about. Just like the story and visuals, the audio get’s the job done and little else.
If your done with the single player campaign and the side missions, then you can pop into the multiplayer modes that will greet you with open arms and a knife to the throat. The game modes take the form of either merc vs spy modes and deathmatches, where players can select either mercs or spies. The online component of Blacklist takes the fun gameplay and superb customization options found in the singleplayer and coop modes, and builds it into a fun way to kill opponents online. Gamers will play as mercs from a first person perspective, which will grant them powerful weapons and armor, but make finding enemies quite hard. They will have some sensors on their side, which levels the playing field a bit. FPS fans should be wary, the controls will not be optimal for shooters and will drag them down. The spies will play like the splinter cells in the story campaign and will have many of the same capabilities. The merc vs spy modes have spies trying to hack terminals or stealing the package from the mercs. Prepare to take a knife to the throat many times (like in any other multiplayer game) from your blind spot, but returning the favor can be quite satisfying.
Overall, the game is the best Splinter Cell game ever made. It combines fluid gameplay and smart AI, which allow near infinite tactical options. Blacklist welcomes newcomers and old hardcore stealth fans with equal fervor, but the fans of the series may find many things to dislike in the title. I’d recommend looking at some random gameplay videos to get a feel for the game. What you see in gameplay videos and trailers is what you will get in the game. This game could have hit perfect on the GP scale if not for some tech glitches that freeze your console and several instances where all your gadgets, weapons and gear is taken away from you. Not cool Ubisoft. Otherwise it is a true Tom Clancy game and lives up to that name. The enemies are real, the weapons believable, with gadgets that are in use by military forces around the world.