Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist Review
There are actually a lot of first person shooter games out there with something political to share with its players. Usually pro-American and fully equipped with some really messed-up psychological horror thrown in for good measure. Then again, there are also quite a few of those that more or less provide some kind of critique over what the US is doing and what it shouldn’t be doing in the various ops it happens to be involved in.
Blacklist’s latest game doesn’t have any of though. In fact, it forgoes the entire positive angle when it comes to the actions of the US and dives straight into a negative portrayal of the American military and its allies. Strikes into countries without the support or even knowledge of the local government and possibly attack its citizenry. People are implied to be tortured during interrogation sequences and all kinds of intrusive surveillance methods are placed above a number of countries.
Once again, the game returns with everyone’s favorite secret operative Sam Fisher and his struggles with terrorist organizations trying to bring the world to its knees. With his organization, the Fourth Echelon, it seems likely that he’s in for quite a ride as he goes on to do a lot of questionable acts to put the terrorists of the game to justice. However, considering what he’s actually doing to said terrorists, players even come to wonder about their own moral standing.
Well, there is some justification to what’s actually going on. After all, when you’re fighting a fanatical terrorist organization, what choice do you have at all, if any? When you stop to think about the way they can simply infiltrate any and every level of society and then commit even worse acts for the heck of it, what exactly can you do? Anyway, in this game, the terrorists call themselves the Engineers and they have a five-stage attack plan which they call the Blacklist that must be stopped at all costs. And when I say all costs, you will find yourself deeply uncomfortable as the game plays on and you come to realize that the difference between you and the bad guys isn’t really all that much. And while yes, the characters spend a great deal of time arguing over what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s justified and unjustified, you later realize that the characters are likely to go on with it anyway.
The end product comes out as not a critique but an otherwise realistic portrayal of how the more clandestine parts of the US military and its espionage system actually functions. Overall, the game’s background is as controversial as it is complicated and while the characters may seem amoral to some, it’s not really far from how actual people in the same situation would actually behave.
As for the overall game elements however, it can be fully enjoyed for being an in-depth game that players can actually immerse themselves in. The characters, especially your team, are to be interacted with in order to achieve better results and the Paladin, the aerial headquarters of your operations are very much like that of the Normandy found in the Mass Effect games.
As for the gameplay, one can probably find it enjoyable enough and is really an expansion from the previous installment Conviction. Your character will be always well-stocked with weapons and your gadgets will be largely customizable, allowing you to adapt to all manner of situations and your weapons can be made to handle a wide variety of enemies.
Overall, the game is fast paced and enjoyable, giving players a chance to truly enjoy their roles as members of an elite anti-terrorist organization. There are three ways to play the game, there is Panther, Ghost and Assault. Panther focuses on stealthy attacks and maneuvers which can be quite challenging considered the AI involved with some of the enemies in the game. Ghost is all about nonlethal takedowns and avoiding confrontations to start with much like a survival horror game although it does involve a bit more than just acting like a tree and not being seen. And then there’s assault which, true to its name, just involves clobbering the crap out of enemies you encounter. And, if you want to turn things up a bit, you can even choose to Realist and Perfectionist which will force you to call upon reserves of wit you never knew were there in the first place. You’ll be fighting enemies in the most difficult of way and, worst yet, be force to plan your every move so as not to alert even more enemies to your presence. Perfectionist playstyle manages to make all the other previous installments of the Splinter Cell franchise a cakewalk.
Best yet, Blacklist isn’t just a straightforward shoot-em-up like a lot of other games out there. It has plenty of side missions for players to partake in to make sure that the plot doesn’t make everything boring. Of course, these optional quests often have the same challenges and significance as the plot missions and can be every bit as interesting and exciting to play and finish. More often than not, this is where games of similar scale usually screw up as they end up focusing too much on one aspect of the game. With Splinter Cell: Blacklist, everything is given depth and a subtle bit of realism. One of the few complaints about side missions however is that checkpoints tend to be quite difficult to find. If anything else though, this just adds more to the challenge as you play on.
The side missions involved can even split up into multiple parts that focus on the playstyles mentioned above. That means in one mission, you might be forced to use stealth and subterfuge while in another, you’ll have to engage as many enemies as you can in combat. The game even allows for multiple players to view each other from a vast perspective using a drone that will allow them to survey the entire battlefield. Better yet, the game somehow keeps track of how you actually play the game and whether or not you’ve mastered the given playstyle. if somehow you failed at keeping yourself quiet and hidden from the enemies that surround you, the game will definitely let you know. Luckily, replaying missions aren’t so bad or tedious as there’s plenty of changes made through each playthrough, making your visits not just worth it but enjoyable as well.
Also, there’s nothing like the excitement you’ll get should you choose to play in multiplayer with a spies vs. mercenaries style of play. There’s nothing like pitting heavily-armed mercenaries equipped with a first person view against lightly armed but agile and deadly spies. It’s almost kind of like Primal Carnage where you pit ferocious dinosaurs with a first person view against defenseless humans with a first person view who more or less have better weapons. It’s just that the spies in this game can’t eat the mercenaries to regain health although spies are considerably more powerful than their mercenary counterparts thanks to their access to more powerful weaponry. Anyway, there’s nothing like the giddiness you’ll get should you decide to play Splinter Cell: Blacklist on multiplayer. Whether 2 by 2 in Classic Mode we’re the spies somehow get a massive melee advantage or other modes where mercenaries must receive a briefcase protected by spies or a race to hack terminals throughout the battlefield, multiplayer shines a bit more than its predecessors when it comes to multiplayer.
The game can be quite difficult when it comes to the way battles take place. It’s outright annoying when you have to slow down just to figure out the controls while you’re in a firefight for your life. A lot of players have pointed this out as one of the games key weaknesses. For instance, trying to climb a window might instead expose you to the enemy fire you were trying to avoid or closing a door might open another one beside it, letting enemies spot you or worse.
The game gives a really realistic portrayal of what spies and mercenaries actually do in real life. However, it does veer into uncomfortable levels once you realize that the decisions and action are, as in real life, morally gray, to say the least.
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