It’s once again time to strap on the tri-goggles of elite special forces soldier Sam Fisher in “Splinter Cell: Blacklist.” “Splinter Cell” is a long running series of action stealth games that began in 2002. Sam Fisher is a highly-trained agent of the NSA called “Third Echelon,” a group organized to be the best of the best in anti-terrorism. Over the course of the last six games, Sam and his team have thwarted many different terrorist plots, and this time in “Blacklist,” the stakes are even higher.
The gameplay of the “Splinter Cell” series has been largely the same, but that’s not bad; this series is known for having one of the best stealth gameplay around. The best way to play the game is to be methodical and remain out of sight, select non-obvious routes, and use diversions to outwit guards. What makes the series stand out for me is it seems to be more grounded in reality. There are several other games that offer great stealth gameplay, such as “Metal Gear Solid,” but they have unbelievable stories and crazy casts of characters. “Splinter Cell” is a lot more realistic. The graphics and lighting are gorgeous, and the physics and AI are very plausible.
The story of “Blacklist” is a twisting and turning tale of espionage, and could possibly be the best of the series. This time, there has been a terrorist attack in Guam and the terror group having issued an ultimatum called the Blacklist, which is a list of escalating terrorist attacks that will be performed against the U.S. The President has granted Sam Fisher and his new team, the “Fourth Echelon,” ultimate authority and resources to eliminate this new terrorist threat.
The variety of missions in this game is incredible: there is parachuting, sniper missions, breaking into Gitmo, and several other interesting scenarios. All of the different mission objectives ensure the game is never boring, and taking down all of the enemies silently feels very satisfying. A cool new addition is the mark-and-execute system; each time you do a stealth take-down, you earn an execute maneuver, and when you have a few saved up, you can cash them in by tagging several enemies in a room and Sam will automatically take down everyone in the room. Stealth take-downs and tasks also earn you ways to customize you character with all sorts of different gadgets, such as sleep grenades, mines, crossbows, and many other tools.
I played the game on the Wii U, and graphically, it’s about the same as the PS3 and 360 but has slight frame rate issues; none of the them are game-breaking. The thing I really enjoyed about the Wii version was the ability to quick-select gadgets and weapons on the touchscreen and controlling drones and sticky cams. The best use for the game pad is the ability to play the full game on it. You can throw the game from the television to the game pad and continue playing when someone wants to watch something.
“Blacklist” has much more to do than the previous entries, as there are now several challenge modes for you to test your sneaking skills; the challenge modes can be done in single mode or with a friend. Although the story mode is quite good, “Blacklist” has some great multiplayer modes that are very entertaining. The best of the new modes is called “Spies vs. Mercs,” where teams of spies play a game of hide and seek with bigger lumbering mercs. One team plays the spies and they are like Sam, and the mercs are big burly guards that play like a first-person shooter. The mercs’ job is to track down the spies who are trying to hack into the computers. It can be a lot of fun, but the majority of my time was spent with the single story mode.
Overall, I loved my time with “Splinter Cell: Blacklist.” I recommend this game to anyone who likes stealth games. It has the best story and gameplay of the series and is worth a look, especially if you are veteran fan. If you are new to the series, it might take some getting used to, but once you learn the system, you are in for one of the best spy games on the market.
-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]