What Makes Blacklist Different From Previous Games In The Series? - Splinter Cell: Blacklist - Xbox 360 - www.GameInformer.com
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Splinter Cell: Blacklist

What Makes Blacklist Different From Previous Games In The Series?

Ubisoft's latest Tom Clancy project looked mighty fine at E3 this year. We investigate the new game to figure out what sets Blacklist apart from its predecessors.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist represents a new direction for the Splinter Cell franchise, both in terms of story tone and gameplay style. While many of the foundational elements of stealth gameplay remain important to the series, Ubisoft Toronto is exploring a number of features and story elements that will make Blacklist stand apart from previous entries in the series.

The Blacklist

The title of the game offers the first hint of what escalates Splinter Cell's plot into new levels of global significance. The game's developers were inspired by looking at the issue that the United States has troops of some sort in two-thirds of the nations in the world. What does that mean to those other nations, especially to those that wish that US would stay out of their affairs?

The Blacklist represents a new pact by a number of rogue nations who have banded together to demand that US soldiers leave their countries. To make it happen, these renegade states have devised a plan to attack America where it hurts the most - targeting major sites in the US for terrorist attack, each one representative of a particular American value. The list of their targets is the Blacklist.

Fourth Echelon

In response to this unprecedented threat, the President reaches out to Sam Fisher. Sam's had enough of the spy game after the events of Conviction, but the President manages to convince him to return to the fight. His condition on returning is that he needs to be able to do things his way, and lead the organization that will deal with the Blacklist threat.

Third Echelon is dead. A new mobile task force is formed with Sam at its head; Fourth Echelon is based out of a high-tech plane, from which Sam can deploy himself and his forces around the world. The SMI (Strategic Mission Interface) is onboard; it's a super cloud computer connected to all the major US intelligence organizations.

From the SMI, Sam has missions and new content popping up all over the world, and this interface will serve as the hub for everything you do in the game. Single player, cooperative, and competitive missions are all available from this station, and each mission will move the story forward and contribute reward money that Sam can use to improve Fourth Echelon's capabilities.


Blacklist has a new approach to upgrades. No matter what mode you play, and whether you're playing alone or with friends, you're acquiring money that can be used to improve your versatility in the field. Money can be spent to get new weapons, new equipment, upgrade existing tools, improve Sam's field suit, and more. The idea is to let players customize their loadout and strengths to their own playstyle, no matter what mode you choose to play.


Sam Fisher has been offered the fifth freedom to do whatever it takes to succeed in his mission, and he's taking advantage of the leeway.  The demo we saw included Sam Fisher taking out a healthy share of bad guys in brutally efficient fashion. A big part of his new lethality comes from the ability to kill on the move. Like in Conviction, Sam can mark targets from cover before heading in for the attack. Unlike in Conviction, Sam can now take out marked targets while on the move. The resulting action sequences are thrilling, as Sam enters a room and pops one target after another as he moves forward, often eventually coming close to a final target who he engages in melee. This new Sam Fisher moves faster, and is deadlier than before.

Motion Capture and Acting

Ubisoft has invested in a deeper storytelling experience for Blacklist, and that means plenty of strong voicework and extensive motion captured animation. As players, it's easy to tell the difference. Cinematic scenes are tense and facial features are detailed and emotive.  In particular, the interactions between the new actors behind Sam and Grim carry a lot of weight.

Fourth Echelon Moments

Not unlike the ability to call in your Brotherhood in Assassin's Creed, Splinter Cell: Blacklist introduces a new mechanic that lets players call down aid from Sam's compatriots in Fourth Echelon. In the sequence we witnessed, Sam comes under heavy assault from several terrorists, including a pickup truck with a heavy machine gun mounted in the back. While Sam could choose to confront the situation on the own, in our demo he called down a "Fourth Echelon Moment" that resulted in a airstrike that totally destroyed the truck and the nearby fighters. These moments won't always be bombastic in nature. At other times, Sam will be able to call on Fourth Echelon to aid him in remaining stealthy, like one instance in which he can call for all the lights in a building to be shut down.

Beyond specific features, Splinter Cell: Blacklist simply comes across as a more ambitious game than its predecessors. Offering increased choices to players, the stealth options that dominated early games in the series have returned in full force. Simultaneously, several sequences we saw proved that the more action-focused elements present in Conviction have expanded as well. The game showed great at E3, and gave us hope that the Splinter Cell franchise has many more years ahead of it. 

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  • "Lasers? lasers are so..."
    "I was going to say '70s, COULD YOU PLEASE STOP MAKING ME FEEL OLD."
    "Got bad news for you Sam, You are old."
    No Michael Ironside is like not having David Hayter as Snake.

    Every single game Ubisoft makes him younger, now he looks and sounds like he's 30.
    They should have just introduced a new protagonist, retire Sam and/or turn him into Lambert, talking over the radio to the new character instead of turning him into Benjamin Button or even better make a spin off or 2 separate games to splinter cell, one that focus on Sam's story and has the old classic Splinter cell hide behind shadows-stealth WITH IRONSIDE'S VOICE! and the other focusing on action stealth with a new protagonist and Conviction's and Blacklist's action-stealth-jason bourne meets jack Bauer.

    Ubisoft needs to set up a new protagonist like Kojima did years ago with Raiden, they've had the chance to introduced new protagonist plenty of times like the co-op spies Bob and Steve from chaos, the co op splinter cells from old gen version of double agent and that rookie splinter cell that gets obliterated in 360's double agent, and they just keep killing them off (Except Bob and Steve) Instead of introducing a new protagonist since Sam's getting old instead of making Sam look younger without explanation.

    this game looks nothing like splinter cell just another generic cover based shooter (with some stealth.)
    Hey let's send the leader of fourth echelon to do the missions, that sounds like a good idea!

    TL;DR Ubisoft ruined another franchise that i love
  • No Michael Ironside and no non-lethal takedowns, no buy. Simple as that.

  • there is no shadows any more..splinter cell was about hiding, killing without being seen and hiding the bodies. it was about playing a level without killing a person, it was about high espionage...it was about being invisible!!!! i dont know why all developers are changing their games into action gamea...so annoying.
  • I've never bought a splinter cell game before, but I have played with friends. The Splinter Cell game I remember and loved was when I could come up behind a guy, choke him, then interrogate him by whispering in his ear while he's fighting for breath. Then shooting out the lights to move in the shadows and finding keycards to get to computers to disable security systems. Can anybody tell me what was the last Splinter Cell game that had great gameplay like this and wasn't all action? Because I want it.
  • -Political agenda -No Ironside -Rehash of Conviction -No Lambert "**BRAAAHHHH** Fisher!" -No true stealth "This new Sam Fisher moves faster, and is deadlier than before." Chaos Theory was the last true Splinter Cell.
  • I thought this was a prequel, why did they change Sam's voice actor!?
  • gorgeous and fun

  • Can they at least bring back Spy Vs. Merc? The Co-op B.S. in conviction sucked. Or maybe i just didnt like the game that much, either way Spy Vs. Merc or no buy for me!
  • Many people are disappointed in the lack of stealth gameplay. When Conviction came out, Ubisoft said that they wanted to allow players to be able to choose between the two, so people could do things the way they wanted. They didn't remove stealth, they just allow you to do what you want and choose.

  • "What Makes Blacklist Different From Previous Games In The Series?" Micheal Ironside isnt in it and therefore (in my eyes) Sam Fisher isn't in it. I'm sorry but i wont be able to be comfortable playing this game if sam doesnt sound like sam. I'll be wondering 'who keeps talking im trying to do stealth her' I've brought my self to understand the reason for it but atleast get someone who sounds atleast a little like him or sounds old anyway. The new guys voice sounds much too young, i dont like it.
  • Still, the stealth options don't compare to Chaos theory. I miss the darkness level, the A.I who'll notice open doors. The fear of being caught. Now it's all gone. Action's fun, but not when it sacrifices the stealth.
  • Conviction was awesome so I am deff getting this one right out of the gate

  • You can keep it Ubisoft.

  • The game looks good.

  • Looks great. The loss of Ironside is unfortunate, but Splinter Cell is a first day for me because the gameplay has a history of being great. But then again I'm a human rogue from Azeroth... its kinda my thing.

  • Wish I could play Conviction but alas...only a ps3

  • I really like the Splinter Cell series (own them all), and I really would like to see how this game pans out. Color me intrigued.

  • The demo made it look too run-and-gun, needs to go back to good ol' stealth
  • I think Ironside couldn't do Sam Fisher because of his age and their use of motion capturing equipment which requires him to move and act rather then just do voicework.