Splinter Cell: Blacklist starts out with a big bang: terrorists blow up an American military facility on the island of Guam. The precisely planned attack is the trigger of a countdown that should lead to the downfall of the USA. A group called The Engineers are responsible for this attack. The Engineers are a cooperation of terrorists of twelve Eastern states, in which they have American military stationed.
But this attack isn’t enough for them. The Engineers want to attack every important military base until the government of the USA sends back the soldiers stationed in foreign countries. It wouldn’t be a Splinter Cell game if the infamous former NSA agent Sam Fisher wouldn’t be entrusted with the task to prevent those bombings.
Anyone who has already played a title from the Splinter Cell series will immediately feel as if he or she is coming home. Sam sneaks around through the shadows, eliminates enemies quietly from behind and hides their bodies. At this point Blacklist largely improves in contrast to it’s predecessor Conviction. This time, the game is based on the older games. The focus of the game, especially on the higher difficulty levels (there are 4 of them), lies definitely in the sneaking and stealth gameplay. Well, I´ve only played the first mission on the second of the 4 difficulties and I got really bored because you can simply shoot your way through the level and don’t care about hiding yourself or the bodies anywhere. On the last 2 of the 4 difficulty levels, the thing looks completely different. You die with 2-3 shots of the enemies, so you are dependent on sneaking around and hide bodies in dark places.
The game advertises with 3 different play styles, each one giving you a different amount of points. The first play style is called Assault and does exactly what its name says, with you running in and killing everyone with explosives or other non-silenced weapons. The second play style is called Panther and is a little bit more subtle. You sneak around and kill people with lethal attacks, like killing them with you knife at melee range or with silenced weapons. The last play style doesn’t really differ from the Panther. It is called Stealth and is exactly the same thing but with non-lethal attacks. So in my opinion there are only two play styles: the one with much bum bum and pew pew, and the sneaky sneaky one. Well, that’s true in the first two difficulty levels. The last two difficulties really require you to play stealth, because otherwise you die so damn fast that you can´t look that fast.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist doesn´t have a main menu. The central point, where you search Multiplayer games, start your single-player missions or customize your equipment, is a giant plane called the Paladin. The equipment customization is extensive. You can buy many weapons and equipment parts in it. You can also customize every part of your so called “Ops-Suit.” From your helmet to your boots, you can change everything.
You can also upgrade the Paladin. This gives you some opportunities while you are on your missions. For example, when you upgrade the cockpit you first get a radar that shows the positions of enemies. The combination of both the equipment system and the Paladin upgrade system makes the game a nice playground for people who like to experiment with things.
On the technical side, the game isn’t up-to-date. The game has some nice effects. But in comparison to SC: Conviction, not much has changed. The level of detail doesn’t come near the quality of Battlefield 3 or Crysis 3. The characters look like they are puppets, they barely have any facial expressions or gestures. Furthermore, the textures on many parts of the world look a little bit wishy-washy.
The sound, on the other side, is really nice. The weapon sounds are all very powerful and the German as well as the English spokesman are really well chosen. But some phrases of the NPC´s repeat pretty fast and they get boring after some time.
In my opinion, Splinter Cell: Blacklist is a really nice stealth game. I didn’t really care for the story, because it felt replaceable. The stealth mechanic works really well in this game. The AI does what it should and reacts pretty well to your actions. If you have always wanted a stealth game set in the modern times and don’t care about the story, SC: Blacklist is definitely a game for you. But if you expect a rousing story with some gorgeous graphics, I recommend you play some other games.