“Splinter Cell” has a special place in many a gamers’ hearts due to its slow pace and stealth instead of action gameplay. Recently, with “Splinter Cell: Conviction,” the series has taken a leap of faith and tried to meld action and stealth together. For the most part, “Conviction” did this, and garnered a fair amount of praise in doing so. “Splinter Cell: Blacklist” takes this concept and flexes it even further, allowing gamers to choose between three various styles: assault, ghost and panther.
Assault is exactly how it sounds. Players will use all of series protagonist Sam Fisher’s weapons and gadgets in an attempt to literally gun every enemy in the level down, while being as loud as possible. “Splinter Cell: Blacklist” boasts a scoring system similar to the one found in “Hitman: Absolution,” where the loud and fiery approach doesn’t garner as many points. Though, like any game in the series, the choice of how to play is up to you. With the Panther play style, gamers will be able to mix action and stealth seamlessly, utilizing the Mark and Execute mode that debuted in “Conviction.” This allows players to target multiple enemies and eliminate them stylishly and quickly. Panther is awarded with a better score than Assault but still won’t get you all the points. Ghost, which the most avid of “Splinter Cell” players will love, harkens back to the old days of using the most silent and deadly measures that Sam has up his sleeve. Players will use a litany of gadgets to distract enemies, allowing them to slip by unseen. It is possible to complete an entire level of “Splinter Cell: Blacklist” without killing an enemy, but this is going to put your skills to the test.
“Splinter Cell” has always been a game known for its interesting storylines and “Blacklist” is no different. Third Echelon has been disbanded after the events of “Conviction” and the president has ordered Sam to put together a new team, dubbed Fourth Echelon. From their floating fortress high in the sky, Sam and his team are tasked with stopping The Blacklist, a series of escalating terror plots that threaten the United States. If it seems a little like a Tom Clancy novel to you, remember this is still a Tom Clancy licensed game. Teammate Anna “Grim” Grimsdottir returns as Fourth Echelon’s second in command along with a slew of new characters. The most unfortunate thing about the cast of characters is that Michael Ironside will not be returning as the gritty voice of Sam Fisher. Only time will tell if this truly affects the overall experience.
“Splinter Cell: Blacklist” looks to innovate the action stealth genre, while simultaneously sticking to what made it so popular in the first place. With a bevy of choice when it comes to gameplay, to a thrilling story that fits right in with an spy thriller novel, “Splinter Cell: Blacklist” looks to be another great entry in the classic franchise. “Splinter Cell: Blacklist” releases for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U and PC August 20.