The Big Question: Does Splinter Cell: Blacklist’s Gameplay Make Killing Enemies Too Easy?
“Sam Fisher would probably murder Solid Snake in a straight-up fight.” That was the most frequent thing I kept thinking during Ubisoft’s hands-off theater demonstration of Splinter Cell: Blacklist.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist is nothing like Splinter Cell: Conviction, where Fisher spent most of the game alone, under-equipped, and using whatever he could find to get by. In stark contrast, this year’s model of the super spy is a killing machine.
This time, Fischer has an entire team at his command, as he’s tasked with bringing down a new terrorist cell called the “Blacklist”. Made up of former spies and armies of soldiers from rogue nations, the Blacklist commits enough escalating attacks on American assets that Sam Fisher is forced to return to active duty to deal with them.
Our demo showed Fisher infiltrating an enemy camp, using a variety of tools to dispatch enemies including guns, knives, and one particular instance where Fisher lured two men to a puddle of water and dropped them both with a charged taser.
Fisher’s new ability to “mark and execute” while running is very similar to the way Assassin’s Creed III let players assassin enemies in mid-run. Throughout the whole demo, Fisher tore through enemies like they were paper, often scaling buildings with great ease to quickly and efficiently disarm soldiers.
Truth be told, the ability to “mark and execute” while on the move seemed to make Fisher look untouchable, as the need for stealth was mostly shelved thanks to his advanced gadgets. Players can use an upgraded radar vision to clearly see enemies inside buildings and throughout the map, so the real challenge is planning your kills for maximum finesse.
When things get too hairy, Fisher can also call in for help. Near the end of the demo, Fisher was pinned down in position by a truck-loaded machine gun. One phone call resulted in his team sending down a missile strike to deal with it, and later on, the gameplay shifted away from Fisher to a drop-down view of a bomber plane, much like Call of Duty’s Modern Warfare series.
It’s not often that a stealth game leaves the player under-matched, but that’s exactly what it felt like in Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Keep in mind, the visuals and gameplay were top-notch (the demo was run on a high-end PC), and this certainly seems like the best Splinter Cell title I’ve seen yet. But, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it felt more like an action shooter than a stealth adventure. Is that a bad thing or a good thing?
What’s your take on Sam Fisher’s gradual transformation from master of stealth into Rambo clone? Sound off in the comments.