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PLATFORM Xbox360

Splinter Cell: Blacklist Review

GAME INFO
publisher: Ubisoft
developer: Ubisoft
genre: Action Adventure

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
n/a
ESRB rating: RP
homepage:
splintercell.ubi.com

release date: Aug 20, 13
» All About Splinter Cell: Blacklist on ActionTrip


Ubisoft hasn’t made much of an impact in the realm of stealth/action games with the previous iteration of Splinter Cell – Splinter Cell: Conviction. No matter how much action and excitement they put out, Conviction didn’t seem to give the series a push it needed, especially after the project endured such a lengthy development cycle. To top it off, the story was damn short and players could generally go through the game in around 5 hours. All gameplay facets and stunning graphics aside, that’s ridiculously short. There was also a lot of call for some sort of refreshing addition to the multiplayer. The developers sought to change all this with the latest addition to the series, Splinter Cell: Blacklist.

There’s one thing that might disappoint a lot of fans out there, so I guess we better get that out of the way. Sam Fisher, the main character of the series returned and one thing that might bother longtime fans is that he’s not voiced by Michael Ironside. Yes, that is a bit of a downer considering how long Michael’s voice helped define the iconic main character. However, the new Sam Fisher is a bit different than the character you might remember from the previous series, which, from our point of view is a good thing. He’s still a badass though and you can notice a strong effort on the developer’s part to establish this reworked version of the popular hero. Throughout the game Sam establishes a rapport with a variety of characters that are on his team. So, the writers made an honest effort with Blacklist; at least when it comes to characterization. The premise is more or less what you’d expect for a game that denotes a war against terrorism. You’re fighting a group of extremists lead by a highly intelligent villain and there’s little the government can do to stop him, so naturally they have to seek out alternative means to deal with this and that’s where Sam’s team comes in.

There are a few ways you can play Blacklist. Players can dive into the main story-driven missions, which are pretty well-structured. Also, most of them are lengthy enough and will occupy you for some time. Each of these missions takes players through a series of well-designed levels, some of which give you the freedom to achieve your goals in different ways. Additionally, it’s possible to slip pass unnoticed. Another way to play this game is to take your time solving side-missions, which are given to you by various members of Sam’s team. These side-missions can earn you extra cash, which may be used to upgrade equipment and weapons. Money is also essential when you want to improve your HQ. In this case, your HQ is a military plane or rather a mighty and well-equipped flying fortress.

In short, there’s really a lot you can do in Blacklist, apart from keeping with the story and that’s a major plus for the series. Each of the side-missions can be enjoyed in coop. While playing solo, you’ll definitely find them engaging for a bit, but it’s the real fun starts in coop. Between missions you can chat with individual members of your team and learn various things about each character. The biggest improvement of them all is perhaps the way the developers incorporated the need for tactics in each combat situation. In other words, if you opt to shoot your way out of trouble, you’d better be damn good and even if you are, chances are you’ll be gunned down, because Sam is often heavily outnumbered. Players can go for the silent assassin approach and just move through the shadows towards the target, which is a challenge. In my case, I managed to find some sort of middle ground where I used a combo of action and stealth, effectively taking out opponents one by one, until the map was cleared. However, despite that, I discovered that creeping about in silence is the most fun. Blacklist , in truth, becomes most engaging when you resort to old-fashioned sneaking, silent takedowns and vanishing without a trace.

The game loses its grip on the player when certain bugs start to surface. There was a recurring issue which happened when Sam passed next to dropped weapons and simply refused to pick them up. Also, we noticed some weird AI behavior. In one situation, a guard was knocked out by Sam and later on another passing guard moved in to wake up his buddy, but instead of approaching the unconscious guard, he kneeled in a completely different spot where there was nothing on the ground. So, it looked kind of freaky – a guard kneeling, trying to wake up nothing. When it’s not exhibiting such quirky behavior, the AI can actually give you a hard time both in story-related tasks and during side-missions.

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USER SCORE
9.7
YOUR SCORE
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ACTIONTRIP SCORE
8.6   Very Good


HIGHS
Terrific and well-balanced gameplay that offers a delicious combo of stealth and action, awesome level design, well-written characters, plenty to do beyond the main story;

LOWS
The cover system doesn't always work as it's supposed to, AI and other technical issues, not all people are going to like the new Sam.

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