Blacklist Is The Best Yet
I’m by no means a Splinter Cell veteran, having only played three of the six instalments (Double Agent, Conviction, and Blacklist), but from what I have played, Blacklist is the best of the series.
It’s taken me almost two months of gameplay spurts to complete the single player campaign, and – having defeated the final mission today – I’d surmise Blacklist as intense.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist’s story explores a topical theme of terrorism, with terrorist group, The Engineers, delivering an ultimatum; remove troops from around the globe, or be victim to an attack every 7 days on U.S. territory. Fisher’s job, alongside his team, is to prevent these attacks from happening. Exciting!
I didn’t make Blacklist easy on myself. As always, I played on the hardest difficulty, giving myself various criteria to meet with each mission; no kills and as few knockouts as possible, hide bodies, remain undetected.
I failed at all of these, apart from the play through on Professional. As much as I’d like to pretend I have some degree of skill with gaming, I died a lot. Yes, Blacklist is challenging, but this is more so prevalent with the 4E missions, not so much the campaign itself. As it happens, the 4E missions are perfectly designed for co-op, and playing on an easier difficulty doesn’t affect your Achievement for beating the solo campaign on Professional. Welp, I wish I’d known this sooner.
Despite the difficulty, Blacklist was never frustrating. Okay, the ludicrously lengthy loading screens were, but the gameplay was fun, giving gamers the choice of approaching a mission stealthily, or with combat at the heart of it.
Blacklist’s gripping story is unified perfectly with seamless dialogue between characters. The narrative and character interaction was one of my favourite aspects of Splinter Cell, with the dialogue during debriefing adequately building tension in the run-up to each mission. I also felt I really knew the characters by the end of the story, which is always sign of a great game.
Aside from the exhilarating story, Fisher’s globetrotting mission meant the level design and environments were never boring. I snuck through London, Colorado, Guantanamo Bay… I could go on. So much ground was covered throughout Blacklist, it kept the game interesting.
Before you think I have some kind of crush on Sam Fisher and think he can do no wrong (I am a sucker for stubble), I do have a few gripes. The Gone Dark missions were never explained in any detail. Coupled with their confusing purpose, they were also very tedious. I quickly lost interest in them, which hurt a completionist like me.
Having tackled a chunk of 4E missions with a friend, Ubisoft’s approach to split screen gaming let the multiplayer aspect down. Blacklist doesn’t support two Xbox accounts signing in, meaning my friend was demoted to Guest account and missed out on potential Achievements and saving his progress. This is just lazy, Ubisoft.
There was also an occasional glitch with kills, where the deceased Engineer would remain standing. It made for some very confusing and frightening situations where I almost lost my life as a result, but these are issues I will get over.
Blacklist is a thrilling journey, which you can tackle however you like. Customise gear and choose your weapons. Go in for the run-and-gun kill, or sneak stealthily past the baddies. I might even get another play through out of Blacklist before I upgrade to PlayStation 4. Yes, it was that fun.