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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  • i wish they would make it for the PS3 also.

  • i wish they would make it for the PS3 also.
  • if the focus is on stealth i will buy

  • i was completely blown away by this video during microsofts media breifing. Was not expected but very much welcome. question: Why is michael ironside not doing sams voice?? i know Mr. Ironside normally doesnt do the voice during early trailers but please tell me if he is still Sam??
  • I like the idea of single-player, co-op, and multiplayer being intertwined by upgrades and currency.

  • There is a lot of complaining on this article. SC is one of my favorite franchises and I love all of them. I have one issue with this game: Ironside isn't voicing Sam. Other than that, It will be awesome. If everyone who complains about the game being Too "mainstream" Or "Too Much action", Blah, blah, blah. Gamers have grown into nothing but whiny school girls. It make s me sick. Why can't we just be happy there is another Splinter Cell game on the way?

  • I can't wait

  • I saw the demo, It got me hook and this game is a lot better than Conviction, which I enjoyed playing. I am awaiting this game very much. Take your time and make it the best Sam Fisher ever, or for now.
  • looks like mighty sh*t

  • I don't understand how Sam Fisher keeps going back to the government...

  • I agree that there aren't enough true-stealth games out there, but 'Splinter Cell's Stealth has always been flimsy at best (probably peaked with 'Chaos Theory). I'm glad they're adding in more action-oriented controls (like Assassin's Creed but with guns!) and taking away the groan-worthy personal-drama.

  • Sam Fisher, instead of getting old, somehow found the fountain of youth, moves faster, sounds younger, and is physically better than ever before.  O_o what!?

  • I was waiting for a nother splinter cell!!!!

  • Please tell me it'll support more than just the 360 at launch...

  • I've been extremely pissed off that Michael Ironside is not playing Sam's voice in this one.  I'm told that he's "coaching" the new guy (Smallville's Eric Johnson), who's taking over because Ironside is too old to do the mocap for the more acrobatic and running parts, but I honestly believe that they should have had Sam play the head of Fourth Echelon who worked from the HQ and have Johnson play a new character.  It's kind of like how Scott Mitchell is no longer playable in Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (not a spoiler, you see that he's been promoted to Major before the briefing of the first mission), and as someone else mentioned here in the comments, it's strange to see Sam suddenly looking and sounding younger than the previous entries and seems to be more capable than ever.

  • Since I've only ever played the first, I don't know if I'll jump right into this one.
  • I was utterly shocked when they took out the knife in Conviction. I mean the knife pretty much defined the stealth mechanics of the game. My favorite splinter cells were Chaos theory and Double Agent. I'm glad they're bringing the knife back, but I hope it's for more than just melee attacks. I loved in Chaos theory how you could play through an entire level without firing a shot or without even killing or engaging an enemy. I hope they bring that back as well.
  • sounds kinda cool. i just wish michael ironside was on board and voiceing fisher. if i heard correctly, he's not affiliated?

  • Have loved this series since day one,a true favorite of mine. As Chaos Theory being my favorite out of the series I can confidently say though that I really enjoyed Conviction & still play the hell out of it today. Even though it was a different take on stealth it was still stealth. Reminds me of the movie Taken some, no holds bar bad ass of a father tearing through guys with his dangerous knowledge & skills. This will be a pre order & day one buy for me, them improving on what fun elements Conviction had & then bringing back my favorite weapon the knife sells it for me. Hope you can interrogate the enemy more & bring back the no kill runs as well.

    Can't wait to hear more about this.

    The Michael Ironside thing took me by surprise too. It's going to be pretty damn different without em.
  • I never have played any of the other games, besides Convictions co-op and Double Agents MP. I think the game looks gorgeous though and now im intrigued by the campaign. I cant wait for it to come out