Fisher has been put in charge of Fourth Echelon.
The titular Blacklist refers to a collection of terrorist organisations from countries opposed to America’s military occupation of certain countries.
With Sam in charge, he has carte blanche to deal with the Blacklist however he sees fit.
The violent interrogations of Conviction make a return and, though proposed during the planning stages, there is no system in place to morally judge you.
Ubisoft reportedly thought that a moral points system like the Paragon/Renegade system seen in Mass Effect, say, might lead players to make choices in one direction for a specific outcome rather than to make the choice they feel is right for them.
Of course, this means that players are able to behave in quite the most amoral of ways, should they so choose, and it’s perhaps this that has had Ubi declare Blacklist a more ‘mature’ direction for the series compared to its predecessors.
Now, hold the phone. We have always considered Splinter Cell games to be mature, and Ubi declaring this one as such has us a little worried. ‘Mature’ in videogame terms can often just mean that the violence is unnecessarily brutal and graphic, and to us, that is not ‘mature’. It’s the other one.
And Ubisoft has gone and ‘done a Hitman’. It has presented the new outing of a series known the world over for its devious and stealthy gameplay as a balls-out, explosive, ratta-tat-boom rollercoaster of ultraviolent shootiness, and if that internet is to be believed, it has in doing so upset series fans immeasurably.
But are these complaints justified? Well, Ubisoft has, after all, worked pretty damn hard to tick every non-stealth box, to include every fashionable feature that on paper, turns Splinter Cell: Blacklist into middle-of-the-road cover shooting fare. Hide behind cover, pop up, shoot (check). There’s parkour of a sort (check). Sam Fisher has a bow (check). He can fire electrically charges bolts into puddles and fry enemies (check). Enemies that are composed of the dusky-skinned, keffiyeh-clad ex-pats of Terroristan (check). The list goes on.
But appearances can be deceiving. There are many layers hiding beneath the surface. Ubisoft has admittedly done itself no favours in the eyes of fans by showing the game’s most action-packed features at the expense of the series’ more traditional stealth gameplay. But equally, as many who wouldn’t have previously been interested in a Splinter Cell game declare their interest now. Swings and roundabouts. And, it turns out that if it is your wish to crawl through the game and not be seen, you still very much can. Happy now?
Because even those of a stoically stealthy disposition are going to have to admit that some of Sam’s newer, louder moves are far too tempting to dismiss. Described as a ‘highway of death’ by the game’s developers, the mark and execute mechanic makes a return in a big way. Previously, through stealth actions, Sam could build up a series of power bars that would allow him to mark one, two, or three enemies, executing them in quick, silent succession at the touch of a button.
In Blacklist, successful executions are rewarded immediately with the ability to mark and execute more, allowing Sam to chain them together to form some insanely cool combos. Of course, we’re as concerned as you are that there is perhaps not all that much skill to it, but at this stage we’re at least prepared to wait and see.
Sam Fisher has always been a bit of a monkey-man when it comes to climbing, but like so many other of his skills, Blacklist takes things to the next level, allowing him to do far more than merely shimmy his way up a pipe or dangle from a wire. Sam can scale cliff-faces, vault practically anything that gets in his way and make liquid-smooth transitions from place to another.
Ubisoft is pushing Splinter Cell in a pretty bold new direction with Blacklist. As much as our hearts bleed to see one of our favourite series changed beyond recognition, we cannot help but support progress. New ideas drive this industry. Blacklist is full of them.
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