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Review: Splinter Cell: Blacklist

The world is run by terrorists, a very accurate saying when it comes to the blacklist. The blacklist is composed by a group of terrorists called ‘the engineers’. They vanquished the Anderson Air Base as warning and will pick another target each and every week. How to stop them? America has to recall all of its troops from countries where they don’t belong, that’s the only way the blacklist can be stopped… Or you can put world’s best spy on the case.

That’s where Sam Fisher enters the picture and he’s up for some serious business. His best friend Vic got harmed during the Air Base attack and Fisher wants retaliation. To help him meet his goal, the president of the United States gave him an operation base and team to work with. Your base is the impressive airplane ‘Paladin’ and will serve as your main HUB in game. Your team consist out of veteran Grim and newcomers Briggs and Charlie. Together you form the brand-new Fourth Echelon (the Third was destroyed in Splinter Cell Conviction).

Fourth Echelon really operates as a team and every member has his/her own role in the story. Talk to Grim if you want the Paladin upgraded. Upgrading your base will eventually result in more income, better weapons and even radars to spot the enemy. Charlie is the geek of the squad and although he isn’t quite that good in expressing himself, he’s the best drone maker/hacker on the planet. Talk to him if you want new or improved gadgets/drones. And Briggs? He’s your new partner in crime and will join you on several dangerous missions.

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The missions go back to the roots of the franchise and aren’t that easy to complete. No longer will a Conviction-like run and gun  tactic work. The enemies are very clever and adapt to several situations. Fisher will have to look for dark places, alternative routes or distractions in order to pass the enemy forces. Stealth is often the best choice to complete the mission but it isn’t the only choice. You can play as a Ghost/Panther or Assault.

The ghost never shows and passes by enemies without them ever knowing your presence in the room. The panther sneaks up on enemies to take them out in absolute silence, one by one. The Assault doesn’t care about invisibility and just shoots down enemies in open combat. A brutal technique that doesn’t always turn out that great in this episode. Most points/money can be made by playing as a ghost but it’s really up to you to decide which way you want to play the game. Some will find satisfaction in being a ghost throughout the entire game while other will pick a more action packed experience. It’s your choice and your rules.

Before the start of the mission you’ll be able to pick some new gadgets or upgrades depending on how you would like to play. You can buy different kind of grenades to improve your assault skills, buy flying drones to take out guards unnoticed or improve your outfit to make less noise while walking. Gadgets play an important role in the game as they can really change to way you end up playing a mission. There are a lot of gadgets and upgrades so you’ll always find a reason to spend your money.

No longer will the guards follow their set path.

Once in a mission you’ll notice just how great the controls in this game are. Just like in Conviction Sam can move from cover to cover with just one touch. Going from cover to cover is key to stay unnoticed and works brilliantly thanks to the genius way of controlling Sam. Running, crawling, dodging, hiding, aiming, firing, throwing grenades.. Everything just feels natural. You’ll be able to control Sam at his full potential immediately thanks to the smooth controls.

Those smooth controls are necessary to stay alive. Blacklist introduce  the most fierce types of enemy every spotted. No longer will the guards follow their set path, when they notice something’s wrong, they’ll change their path. Guards now also notice when one of their friends don’t answer their call and go on an investigation. Take note that you’ll also have to face dogs, armored guards and drones and then you know this isn’t an easy game at all.

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The variation can’t only be found in the different types of enemies, it’s found throughout the missions as well. You’ll complete the solo adventure in 8 to 10 hours, depending on your playstyle but you’ll never get bored. Stealth mission are often followed by more action packed missions and you’ll sometimes take control over other characters as well. Controlling one of your teammates can result in sniping or true FPS-style missions. Mix this variation with a very cinematic story and you know you’re going to have a thrilling ride.

Once you’re done with this solo adventure, the game doesn’t end just yet. Ubisoft put a lot of effort in the multiplayer as well. During your solo adventure you’ll unlock special co-op missions that can be played with one of your friends. These missions vary from stealth missions where both players must stay unnoticed to horde-like missions where you have to defeat different waves of enemies. Both types of missions really add something new to your adventure and will give you some extra challenges aside from the solo story.

That’s not all for the multiplayer section however. The famous Spies VS. Mercs multiplayer mode makes a return as well. In this multiplayer match you’ll fight 4 against 4, one team being the Spies, the other team being the Mercs. You can pick three different classes and one custom class before entering one of the beautiful multiplayer maps.

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The Spies need to hack three terminals on the map in order to win the round. Once a terminal is hacked, the Spy needs to stay close to it for a certain period of time. The Mercs need to defend the terminals and eliminate all Spies in order to win the round. As a Spy you’ll play closet to the singleplayer experience, sneaking and trying to stay unnoticed while Mercs play as a true first person shooter, hunting down Spies. After each round, roles are changed. You’ll have to become the best Spy and Merc in order to reach the highest ranks on the leaderboard. It’s a multiplayer slightly different from others on the market and stays fresh for a long time. You’ll enjoy going on missions with friends or trying to become the best Merc/Spy.

We can conclude that Splinter Cell: Blacklist is probably one of the best stealth games on the market and has a lot to offer. The story has enough variation and cinematic experiences so it stays fun to play. Once the singleplayer is finished you can go all out in multiplayer. Sam Fisher is back with more stealth, more gadgets and more action. Forget about the Blacklist, this game belongs on your Wishlist.

 

9/10

What’s App?

Ubisoft also launched an official companion App for Splinter Cell: Blacklist. This App is up for download now and is free of charge. In this App you’ll take control over a Spider-Bot and you’ll go on several missions. Just like the real game, some missions are very stealthy while others are more action-packed. Completing those top-down missions will result in currency that you’ll be able to transfer to your console game. Using the App you’ll be able to add funds and even unlock some exclusive content. The App is more than just a companion, it actually is one of the most fun games to play on mobile devices, be sure to check it out.

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Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.