A terrorist unit known as ‘The Engineers’ threatens the United States with a series of deadlier escalating attacks which they are calling ‘The Blacklist’, unless the US government pulls all of its troops from their stations abroad. In response to this threat, the President of the United States forms a new Special Operations and counter-terrorism unit called ‘Fourth Echelon’ and installing Sam Fisher as Commander of the unit with the purpose of hunting down and stopping the Engineers and the Blacklist from happening.
By now most of you know who Sam Fisher is and the type of series Splinter Cell has been; a stealth based game wherein you sneak and stealth your way through missions (aside from Splinter Cell: Conviction - the last instalment in the series and one that many weren’t happy with, having the stealth element significantly reduced and action made the more prominent focus). Thankfully though Blacklist is a roaring return to form- bringing stealth back to the forefront and the game benefits immensely!
Splinter Cell: Blacklist is one of (if not) the best console stealth experiences I’ve ever had! It’s the one game that I’ve played where I actually feel like a highly trained, super-agent badass! But there is one thing that makes Splinter Cell: Blacklist such an amazing game: Choice. The amount of options you are given to complete your missions is fairly astounding. With three play styles to choose from; Ghost: Go the stealth route with non-lethal enemy takedowns, Panther: Stealth approach with lethal takedowns, Action: Go in loud with guns-blazing! Choose one style to stick with and earn rewards based on your style, mix it up as you please, or take each situation as it comes. The options given are many and varied and will appeal to a wide range of gamers. I found myself mainly going the non-lethal stealth route, but the great thing about this game is that with so many ways to play, it adds a considerable amount of replay valuable! Now that I’ve beaten the game, I’m excited to go back and try things out different ways, perhaps go a little more action heavy, or maybe just sneak around and take out my foes with deadly force! The great thing is that there really isn’t a limit to the choices you have. Each time you play through can be different and this will appeal to a lot of different types of gamers.
From a gear standpoint, the amount of different weapons available and the same for gadgets is quite impressive. Each better suited for the differing play styles and after the first few missions I found myself sticking to certain favourites and used those throughout the majority of the game, as I was settled on a certain approach to the missions (Ghost baby! Stealth all the way!). With numerous upgrades for each item, you’ll have a good time finding weapons that suit your needs and for those who need to go all the way- spending a lot of time and in game currency on getting every additional upgrade available, which will take up a nice little chunk of your time.
Between missions you are aboard The Paladin; a flying mobile headquarters equipped with everything you need. Here you can upgrade your suit, weapons and equipment. Access the campaign missions, the returning Spies vs. Mercs online multiplayer, check your game status and interact with your team, with between mission dialogue and story, but also, the best feature, accessing each characters side missions all of which can be played in co-op and the majority played in single player gameplay (Bar Briggs’ 4 side missions which can only be played in co-op). With 14 side missions in total, it’s almost another campaign in and of itself. Playing these as they become available mixed with the main storyline makes for a lengthy gaming experience!
Although the game isn’t without its faults. First of all is the sound. It’s patchy in places, while other areas it’s fine and sounds good. Others the music plays louder over the dialogue and in game radio communications are hard to make out at times, unless you like to play with the subtitles on (I don’t). Some minor control issues. The controls are good, but they just could have been a little bit smoother, but again, this is only a very minor hitch. When it comes to the graphics- Sam Fisher looks quite good, with a lot of time, effort and detail put into his character model. Same can’t be said for the supporting characters. Graphically they just aren’t up to par. With lifeless emotionless faces (aside from some mean squinting!), poor detailing, hair and creepy, unblinking eyes. I mean, really these are like PS2 graphics. It’s a bit of a let down. Also, while between missions on The Paladin, I found that the game suffered from framerate issues- chunking along in places, but nothing worse was after the final mission, during the post mission cutscene, one of the characters disappeared from the scene completely! Just blinked out, though that didn’t stop him from talking and the other characters interacting with him.
On the whole though Splinter Cell: Blacklist is a really good time! Sure there are some issues which really could have been ironed out, but these can (almost) be forgiven with the amount of content this game has and really, you can’t put a price on good fun! This game is fun to play and it’s a better game than it is worse!
Bringing stealth back, swelling with content and choices to play as you please makes Blacklist a title definitely worth picking up!
Reviewed on: Playstation 3
The return of stealth, plus loads of content and multiple gameplay choices, make Blacklist a must!
- ✔ Replayable campaign mode
- ✔ Excellent story
- ✔ Spies vs. Mercs Multiplayer
- ✔ Co-op mode
- ✘ Not the best graphically
- ✘ Choppy framerate at times
- ✘ Poor Sound