Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist review (Xbox 360)

Valenka | 385d ago | User review
Reviewing: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Chaos Theory Meets Conviction
Splinter Cell: Blacklist is an experience that delivers on every spectrum of the third-person, stealth-action genre. It takes what fans of the older instalments loved the most and incorporates them alongside features introduced in Conviction to write up another chapter of Sam Fisher's life with elements that we've come to expect from the gaming industry today.

In classic, Hollywood-blockbuster form, terrorists are up to no good and the fate of the world falls into the capable hands of Fisher and his Fourth Echelon (4E) team consisting of the ever popular Anna Grímsdóttir, Isaac Briggs and Charlie Cole. The Engineers, a group of cyber-warfare terrorists, destroy Anderson AFB in Guam and announce that the assault was the first of a deadly continuance of attacks on United States assets, called The Blacklist. Their demand: the United States government is to call back all military troops stationed abroad. Patricia Caldwell, the President of the United States assigns Fourth Echelon to the task of finding and bringing to justice the men responsible and stopping The Blacklist before the countdown reaches zero.

Blacklist reintroduces elements favoured in the original trilogy and mixes them with the gameplay and tactics of Conviction; many were understandably sceptical at first, but the myriad of glory that the combination produces has quelled all cynicism. Blacklist reintroduces the dependency of gadgets and stealth tactics and rewards the player accordingly for their proper implementation. However, engaging in guns-blazing firefights also have their share of rewards as well as a mixture of both.

Blacklist presents three different play-styles for the player to engage in: Ghost, Panther and Assault. The Ghost play-style resurrects the classic Splinter Cell methodology and requires the player to sneak through the map undetected and either leaving hostiles unharmed or eliminating them with non-lethal means. Fisher also has a handful of equipment to assist him on this path including a stun gun, a crossbow with shock or sleeper darts and grenades proximity mines that release knock-out gas and electrical charges respectively. Should the player feel like completing the mission without any technical assistance, the good 'ole fashioned method of 'distract and disengage' with hand-to-hand takedowns is at your disposal as well.

The Panther play-style is a fair balance between the Ghost and Assault methods, requiring you to complete your mission undetected by hostiles, but allowing you to eliminate them with lethal means including headshots and Mark & Execute (from Conviction), stabbing and slicing with a Karambit and snapping necks for that up close and personal feel. Your equipment ranges from tear gas and smoke grenades to crossbows with deadly arrows and any suppressed firearm in Fisher's armoury (pistols, submachine guns, assault rifles and sniper rifles.) Blacklist also introduces a new gameplay mechanic called 'Killing in Motion,' which allows players to highlight targets and take them out in a quick succession while on the run; favoured by this play-style.

The Assault play-style is nearly self-explanatory; get the job done while making as much noise as possible and not giving a hoot about who sees you doing it. Go loud with frag grenades and a Desert Eagle with a shotgun or a carbine rifle and take out everyone in sight.

Players may complete their missions in any manner they see fit and are not limited to a single play-style per mission. If you want to start off as a Ghost and sneak past the hostiles and then start slicing throats from cover as a Panther before going out with a bang with a Desert Eagle and some grenades, you're more than welcome to. You receive points and rewards accordingly, but more rewards are earned through completing the mission strictly as a Ghost, Panther or Assault agent.

Blacklist also introduces Kinect integration which allows players to say things to distract enemies and then escape, evade or eliminate. The player can also use the Kinect sensor to control Fisher with their body instead of the Xbox 360 controller.

As featured in Pandora Tomorrow, Blacklist returns Spies Versus Mercs as the multiplayer component which plays just like the original, but with an upgrade to gameplay befitting of Blacklist's methodologies as inspired by Conviction. It's just as fun, just as competitive...and sometimes just as annoying when you have an overly-aggressive participant on the enemy team. SVM also introduces a training mode which allows new players to learn and experience the component with other new players. It's a nice little feature to allow newcomers to hone their skills before getting themselves into matches with higher-levelled participants. At least it would be if Ubisoft put a level-cap on the training mode. You'll find that it is an unbalanced slaughterhouse where players with levels of 20 or higher will participate for easy levelling, as they'll be paired up with others who are much lower in rank, often bringing an unfair advantage and experience to the table.

Overall, Splinter Cell: Blacklist is an experience that must be...well, experienced by every fan of third-person action, stealth and a mixture of both. It's lengthy, offers a great narrative and has plenty of replay value.
Ups
Revitalises cherished elements of past SC titles
Great gameplay
Decent replay value
Downs
Assault play-style is forced in some missions
Controls often feel clunky
Multiplayer often feels unbalanced
Score
8.5
Graphics Visually delicious, NPCs themselves have been given proper consideration and have just as much detail and texture as Sam Fisher himself. Environments are properly rendered and there is not a texture out of place.
8.5
Sound Voice acting is believable but often feels cheesy or uninspired in some dialogue. Sound effects are spot-on and the music is proper.
9.5
Gameplay Undeniably amazing implementation of cherished elements from the previous Splinter Cell games and they blend well together with the features and gameplay introduced in Conviction that carried over to Blacklist.
9.0
Fun factor Easily enjoyable and something that one could simply pick up and play and jump right into an action or stealth based experience. Replay value is decent and there's a nice handful of side missions to occupy you.
7.0
Online Blacklist reintroduces Spies Versus Mercs from Pandora Tomorrow and it's utterly wonderful. However, poor construction delivers an unbalanced experience often and Training Mode needs a level cap so higher-levelled players do not take advantage of newcomers.
9.0
Overall (out of 10 / not an average)
coolbeans  +   383d ago
"Chaos Theory Meets Conviction"

To be honest, that's the reason I'm not really excited about picking this game up. It certainly has a load of content, but I don't see myself having the same fun either Chaos Theory or Conviction provided with this meet-in-middle appeasement because one is going to outweigh the other. Like in your negative ("Assault play-style is forced in some missions"), I honestly can't stand the idea of playing the good 'ole Chaos Theory way of not touching a single guard and then being forced into Bay 'splosion scenes because of what the plot demands.

Perhaps I'm jumping the gun here.
PhantomTommy  +   383d ago
I completed the game without killing anyone, and I'm almost positive that every mission can be completed without Fisher being spotted during gameplay at least.
coolbeans  +   383d ago
It's good to know that's possible, but body count (or lack thereof) is really only part of the point. It's also the idea of having the opportunity for a complete stealth, don't kill anyone affair feeling contrapuntal to a story framework/tone/etc. (seemingly) framed around the typical clock-ticking, constant fist-bumping action thrillers done constantly already. You have two separate design philosophies that were destined never to mix together.

(Yes, my speculation is framed on very limited information in comparison to you and reviewer. I'm more than willing to admit I'm going overboard here if my experience is quite different than what I'm expecting).
#1.1.1 (Edited 383d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(0) | Report
Valenka  +   381d ago
I'm not too sure; I haven't been able to remain undetected when Paladin falls under attack in the hangar. Leaving the plane and taking cover always results in being spotted.
PhantomTommy  +   381d ago
I couldn't manage it either. But you know how each stage has those 3 completion goals of beating it on the highest difficulty, taking a non-lethal approach and completing it undetected? Well those goals are still listed on the Airstrip stage, so presumably it is possible.
codename13  +   378d ago
Nice review. Forcing assault play is not down though because every level actually can be finished with master ghost. I managed to finish all level with master ghost rank.
Valenka  +   378d ago
I think you've misunderstood. I'm completely aware that you're able to complete missions whilst mastering the Ghost playstyle overall; I listed 'Forcing the Assault playstyle' as a downside because I wasn't a fan of being forced into Assault methodologies for the sake of the story, yet still being rated as not being seen, non-lethal, etc.
Pintheshadows  +   370d ago
It is really good but I had to switch to a gamepad very quickly. I played Conviction on 360 and frankly, I really liked it, not as a SC game but just as a game. When I started playing Blacklist I thought it felt sluggish and clumsy but switching to a pad remedied that immediately. Great game and one of the best this year. I expect this will be on a few people's game of the year shortlist. Mine included. Great story as well.

Add comment

You need to be registered to add comments. Register here or login
Remember

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Average Score 8.4 Reviews(154)
Release Dates
PC Release Dates
US 23 August 2013
EU 23 August 2013
AU 23 August 2013
PS3 Release Dates
EU 23 August 2013
US 20 August 2013
Wii U Release Dates
Xbox 360 Release Dates
US 20 August 2013