The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Unforgiving checkpoints and slow placed trial-and-error gameplay kept
many older stealth games from appealing to a wider audience. In 2010,
Splinter Cell: Conviction broke away from traditional stealth slog with
an action-oriented stealth approach that encouraged players to
constantly be on the move. Conviction’s mark-and-execute system allowed
gamers to easily take down their targets and quickly clean up their
messes when they accidentally stepped out of the shadows. Blacklist
continues Conviction’s legacy, further refining many of those systems
while crafting a white-knuckled espionage thriller that is hard to
After a terrorist group known as The Engineers destroys an Air Force
base on the island of Guam, the group demands that the U.S. withdraw all
troops stationed inside foreign countries. If America fails to comply,
the terrorists will perform a series of weekly attacks on United States
interests. Enter Sam Fisher, who is given command of a new special
operations and counter-terrorism unit called Fourth Echelon and tasked
with hunting down The Engineers to put a stop to their activities.
Blacklist might easily be one of the best stories in Splinter Cell
history; the game is full of fun summer blockbuster-like plot twists and
a few welcome character moments actually make you care about the cast.
The missions have players skipping across the globe, sniping enemies
as they parachute into Libya to extract a weapons smuggler, protecting a
grounded plane as waves of terrorist zoom up the runway, and breaking
into Guantanamo Bay to interrogate a prisoner. Blacklist’s mission
objectives are rarely repetitive and never boring. Whenever Blacklist
started to get challenging, it was usually because I was failing to
utilize Sam’s sneaky skillset. Splinter Cell’s mark-and-execute system
is not only useful, but also extremely satisfying. Every time Sam
performs a stealth takedown he earns an execute maneuver, which allows
him to dispatch tagged enemies with the press of a button. I love the
puzzle-like aspect of watching guards’ behaviors, marking several
targets, and then dropping down from a pipe to knock out one opponent
before hitting the execute button to take out the remaining enemies in
the room. My only major complaint is that this system is constrained by
Sam’s location; I was able to mark any enemy I saw, but sometime I
couldn’t execute a marked target if he was on the other side of a large
room – occasionally leaving me behind the iron sights of an active
Thankfully, Sam’s wealth of stealth gear helps make up for his
nearsightedness. Smoke grenades, sticky shockers, and remote cameras are
all useful for manipulating guard behavior and getting Sam out of
dangerous situations, but my favorite new tool is the tri-rotor. It’s a
miniature aerial drone, which allows you to get a birds eye view of a
combat zone, mark targets, and shock enemies from three rooms away. I
also loved the steady progression of new gear. After each mission, Sam
gets a fresh infusion of cash from the U.S. government, which can be
used to upgrade all his equipment. For example, Sam’s traditional night
vision goggles can be equipped with a sonar mode that allows him to
watch enemies through walls and even track their footprints.
When you get tired of Sam’s solo stealth, you can dive into the
wealth of Blacklist’s multiplayer missions. An abundance of optional
co-op missions task you and a buddy (either online on through
split-screen) with defending your position from waves of enemies,
sneaking through terrorist encampments unseen, or trying to take down
every hostile in an area without alerting their reinforcements.
Splinter Cell faithful will be most excited to see the return of the
series’ much-loved Spies vs. Mercs multiplayer mode. In this classic
game type, a team of mercenaries must stop a group of spies from hacking
a series of terminals. Mercs use traditional FPS gameplay while the
spies have access to Fisher’s arsenal of tricks that allow them to stick
to the shadows and avoid open combat. Spies vs. Mercs has always been a
refreshing break from traditional death match, and it remains so.
Online matches are tense and bloody, and victory often requires careful
Splinter Cell: Blacklist is a beefy game, and its well worth your
time to explore all it offers. While a lot of stealth titles reward you
for memorizing enemy patrols and choosing your movement carefully,
Splinter Cell gives you the flexibly to be the kind of think-on-his-feet
spy that Jason Bourne would idolize.
Watch Splinter Cell: Blacklist's Spies vs Mercs mode recreated in real life.
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