E3 2012: Splinter Cell: Blacklist Impressions

Sam Fisher is back once more and somehow he’s gotten even more badass. So much so that Third Echelon wasn’t enough for him and he’s had to step it up a notch to create his own special team, Fourth Echelon – A team completely unacknowledged and unrestrained by the US government, and totally under his command. They are ready to do whatever it takes to stop the latest terrorist threat and we were present to see them do it at E3. So let’s dive into the demo.

The latest terrorist threat is a group of militants who believe the US has too much influence on the world and is hoping to change that with some well placed terrorist strikes. It’s up to Sam and his new team to make sure that happens, even if it means torture. That’s right; Ubisoft is actually implementing questioning with torturing into the game. We didn’t get to see it ourselves, but we were told it would be present. So it remains to be seen how it will be handled. I can see this being very controversial and potentially damaging to the overall experience. However, I will wait to see the implementation before passing judgment.

That said, there are many more familiar ways to get the job done that are returning. One thing Ubisoft has done in listening to fans is bring back a wide variety of Sam’s gadget arsenal, including sticky shockers and fiber optical cameras. There’s also a new form of tactical vision that helps you to better assess situations. However, one of the like more desired items to be brought back is actually the most low tech, the knife. Now you can once more cut through cloth and peoples backs and throats to your heart’s content.

They’re also holding onto some more recent additions to the gameplay, namely the Mark and Execute feature. It’s gotten a bit of an upgrade this time around though. You can now be rewarded with marks for various actions in the game, not t just stealth kills. Mark and executes can also be comboed with fast paced free flowing combat to make for some amazing and fluid combat scenarios. It’s not something that can be easily explained, so if you haven’t already, check out the E3 gameplay demo below.

Most of what we saw was what you see there in the video. However, there are a few tidbits we can add. For instance, Splinter Cell will benefit from Ubisoft’s new climbing system, seen in Assassin’s Creed III, allowing for the use of more organic surfaces. Another thing is the Kinect integration that will be present for various voice commands. We also got treated to an alternate method of infiltrating the final room, by rappelling through the side, showing that the variety of taking on mission scenarios is still intact. Finally, we were also treated to an extended ending, showing how Sam actually remote controlled a UAV and used it to take out the enemies he needed to in order to get extracted.

So we’ve got quite a bit going on with the latest Splinter Cell. A lot’s been done to appease the fans of the older games by bringing back gadgets and more stealthy gameplays, but also removing vigilante Sam and putting him back in the familiar type of structured government missions. Still, they’re working hard to keep a lot of the more recent improvements, like last known position and improve them for this iteration. So how well will it all mesh in the end? If the demos we’ve seen recently are any indication, quite well.


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