Splinter Cell Blacklist-Preview

Splinter Cell: Blacklist

With The new Metal Gear Solid game recently being announced, and Hitman: Absolution right round the corner, it would be easy to forget about the 3rd elder statesman of the sneak em up genre. Welcome back Sam Fisher, it’s been a while…

 His last outing, Conviction, which changed the shape of the series dramatically, from all out stealth to a much more action packed title, was stripped bare, and given a Rainbow Six style make-over, and although Sam was without his trusty SC-20K assault rifle and trifocal goggles, it still retained its unique and tense feel that fans of the series will have become accustomed too. So, with that being said, the question is, has Sam gone back to his roots? Or has Blacklist continued with Conviction’s makeover? Well the answer is, well, neither.

The original trailer released at this year’s E3, shows a freshly grizzled, newly voiced Sam Fisher, shooting and stabbing his way through a desert compound, before saving a former third-echelon agent, and blasting his way back out of there. A gameplay demo was also released at E3 and unveiled his new “killing in motion” feature, but more of that later.

Blacklist follows 3 years after the events of Splinter Cell: Conviction. The now President, Patricia Caldwell officially terminates Third Echelon and orders all operations immediately aborted. President Caldwell then replaces the former corrupt agency with the newly-formed “Fourth Echelon”. A shiny new elite team of Government operatives, drawn from different agencies, which operate permanently around the globe performing missions assigned to them by Caldwell. Fisher is appointed to head up the agency.

With Fourth Echelon conducting their primary mission of shutting down all former Third Echelon activities, a group of twelve international terrorists that are sick and tired of the U.S military having a armed presence in a large majority of the world’s countries, initiate a terror plot named “The Blacklist” – a countdown of escalating terrorist attacks on the United States. Fisher and his team must now track down and stop these terrorists, and halt the Blacklist before it reaches its grizzly finale.

 The initial reaction to Backlist has been sceptical to say the least. Although visually the game looks exceptional, there is a general consensus that the series is beginning to lose its roots. Fisher has changed; a new voice, suit and weapons, meaning he is no longer the gravelly voiced one rifle man who we have all become attached to. He is now a super-agent, scaling up walls, shooting nine soldiers in nine seconds and generally un-killable. Is this really what we hardcore, Fisher fans want?

 My memories of Splinter cell are all centred around hiding in the shadows and waiting for that perfect moment to strike. Or slowly edging your way around a dark compound, occasionally risking a headshot at an enemy, hoping it wouldn’t trigger an alarm. Hours and Hours of sneaking, learning to use your goggles and gadgets all at the right times, seems to have well..vanished. Fisher now effortlessly scales walls, is freakishly quick across the ground, and is seemingly now more of a mercenary than a Fourth-Echelon agent.

 However, don’t let this detract from what looks like, a superbly presented, action-packed game. The gameplay looks fluid, fast, gritty and violent, and the new “killing in motion” feature just adds to the impressive slickness and flow of what could be a sublime action game. The sound is snappy and brings a polished feel to the table, and the lighting is of course, exceptional as it always has been with the series.

 Splinter Cell is shaping up to be an excellent  3rd person shooter. The graphics are exceptional, the sound is fantastic (even if Michel Ironside hasn’t returned as Sam), the game looks fluid, fast and polished. But, and it’s a big but. At these early stages……it’s just not Splinter Cell…