The follow-up to Splinter Cell Conviction sees the world at the mercy of an international terrorist organisation known as the Blacklist. They are demanding that America withdraw all their troops from abroad and, until their demands are met, they will carry out regular attacks across the globe. Sam Fisher and the 4th Echelon team are tasked with attempting to stop the threats and take down the group.
Photo: The Modern Mage
The player is provided with a multitude of customisable weapons and gear which allow a number of approaches to each mission, although there is still a big emphasis on stealth. At the end of every mission, points are totalled based on three approaches: Ghost, which rewards non-lethal takedowns and leaving enemies undisturbed; Panther for those who prefer to be stealthy and lethal, and finally Assault which awards points for loud, lethal kills in fire-fights.
This does go some distance to accommodate players of a more forthright nature, but the stealthy approach is almost always the most effective method as, once alerted, the adrenaline of fights allows enemies to take much more damage. Assault kills also reward far fewer points than evasion or stealth takedowns which means less money to spend on gear and upgrades. There is no ‘correct’ approach but one is strongly encouraged at all times, however given the nature of the Splinter Cell series, this is understandable.
The gameplay itself is fantastic and the level design impeccable. Players can vary their routes through levels in order optimise their points either avoiding enemies for the ghost approach, or taking them head on for assault, or they can pick up secondary objectives to earn even more points. Occasionally the controls may feel slightly clunky, especially in tight situations, although a reasonable amount of practice brings far greater fluidity.
There are also extra 4th Echelon missions for the player to complete for extra points. These are a good
idea and certainly add playing time, but the complete absence of checkpoints and the fact that the mission is failed if Sam is spotted once makes them fairly pedantic and masochistic rather than enjoyable. The ability to turn on checkpoints for fewer points would be a simple solution and it’s absence is puzzling.
Blacklist stays true to the franchise, building on the fluidity and panache of its predecessors in order to reach the apex of modern stealth gameplay.