Tech News on G4
Splinter Cell: Different Fisher, same action
Oct 1, 2013
By Alexander Cattani - G4 Canada
Sam Fisher is one of gaming’s most stern, intimidating and deadly agents. Sam’s made quite a name for himself being the protagonist of one of the most notable series in the stealth genre: Splinter Cell. Sam’s back but is his new look and voice worthy of the Splinter Cell name? Enter, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, the sixth game in Ubisoft’s long running series.
Players once again resume the role of the gruff agent but not without some changes. Here we see a younger more military Sam, a contrast to the vengeful vigilante in games past. Our new Sam not only looks like he’s aged backwards but is also voiced by a different actor. While news of this change may have rustled the feathers of series veterans, it’s safe to report that Sam’s newfound voice fits in line well with the quasi reboot nature of the title. Eric Johnson, now playing Sam, delivers a solid, well-acted performance. While it’s hard to not miss the trademark voice of Michael Ironside, the new tone injects an arguably needed freshness back into the series.
Blacklist’s story starts off with a bang and manages to keep a steady pace throughout. A terrorist group knows as “The Engineers” threaten to launch a series of attacks on American soil. For the attacks to be haltede, the group demands the United Sates government cease all military activity in any foreign countries. Sam and his team are tasked with taking down the big wig of the operation and making us all feel safe again. The narrative is filled with more shadowy black ops talk than you can shake a stick at and has a healthy amount of edge of your seat action. It may not be the most original plot in the world but it succeeds at being an entertaining ride.
While Blacklist’s campaign won’t not take you by surprise something that might is Ubisoft’s new approach to mission structure. In between missions, Sam will now walk around a central HUB know as the Paladin, a huge flying plane that seems to be running on an infinite supply of fuel. Walking around the plane and talking to fellow crewmembers adds a layer of RPG like immersion. Granted, the mid mission chatter between you and your team is nothing of great substance but it’s still a nice touch. Think Mass Effect’s Normandy but scaled down and with no romance dialogue trees.
While on the plane, the player has the option to upgrade Sam’s op suit as well as his gadgets, weapons and even the colour of his goggles. Surprisingly enough, even the plane itself can even be tuned up. Dropping cash on various sections of your mid-air base unlocks new gear to buy, as well as new side missions to undertake. All these upgrades are made with currency earned during your time on the field, both in multiplayer and during the campaign. Everything from getting headshots, to completing a level in under a set amount of time will net you cash in a unified bank. It’s an addicting rewards system.
When it comes down to controlling Fisher, the game is split up into three different play styles. Not being afraid to engage hostiles while reaming stealthy will net you “Panther” status. Bypassing guards completely and leaving them untouched will result in a “Ghost” ranking. And going the “kill ‘em all” route will land you an “Assault” status. While it’s fun once and a while to play guns blazing, Sam will often go down after a couple shots. After all Splinter Cell is still a stealth game and is best played that way.
In addition to an already large amount of replay value, prepare to lose yourself in some of the most enjoyable multiplayer action to come out this year. Returning to Splinter Cell is the fan favorite “Spies versus Mercs” multiplayer mode. Last seen in 2004’s “Pandora Tomorrow”, the mode has since been polished and made even more fun than before. I’ve played quite a bit of multiplayer games over the years. Some I got unhealthily deep into and some I wrote off as tack-ons, merely just to serve as a back of the box bullet point - I’m looking at you, Tomb Raider - but with Black List’s multiplayer component, I can easily say it is some of the best I’ve played in recent memory and will easily find long legs with the Splinter Cell community. Quick nimble spies must hack three terminals to win the round. Once a terminal is hacked, the spy must remains in the vicinity until the hack is complete. The opposing lumbering Mercenary’s are tasked with making sure the terminals remain un-hacked until the end of the round. Simple and a blast to play.
In the end, Blacklist hits the target. While the decision to half reboot the story seems a tad off, the new structured campaign and addictive multiplayer make the shortcomings look trivial by comparison. Strap on those night vision goggles and sneak your way into one the year’s finest actions games so far.
Splinter Cell: Black List
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