E3 2013: Splinter Cell: Blacklist (Xbox 360) Preview
During E3, I finally got the chance to pick up and play Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Last year, we were treated to a behind-closed-doors hands-off demo preview of the game. This was clearly a modified take on Sam Fisher with a new voice. Fisher is now voiced by actor Eric Johnson over long-time Fisher VA Michael Ironside. I’m sure some fans will have issue with that, but Ubisoft also wanted an actor who would do the physical motion capture for the role in addition to the voice. So that’s something I can kind of understand. In the new game, Fisher is now in charge of the newly formed organization, Fourth Echelon, assigned to track down all threats relating to “The Blacklist.”
I got the chance to pick up and play a demo from a stage set in London. Fisher is infiltrating a base that is heavily guarded. At the start of the demo, you are armed with a number of gadgets and tools. You can toggle both night vision and infrared modes on and off. Terrorists and guard dogs are outside the base, so you have to be careful and can’t just rush in. Stealth gameplay is awesome. Controls were incredibly smooth and responsive which is really important for a game like this where one wrong move can alert your presence to the enemies. Snipers and sentry guards are crawling all over the place and you can take them out a number of ways. You can sneak up on them and either kill them or knock them out. You also have a remote control predator drone that has the ability to stun them and knock them out. You can even use your tazer to electrify the wet ground (since its raining) to electrocute them. The enemy AI in this game is incredibly smart and advanced. If guards are conversing, you don’t want to just sneak up on one while they are talking over radio otherwise his comrades will know something is up and send over more guards to your area.
Once I got inside, you discover that there is a drone in the building that’s actually jamming your night and infrared vision. The drone is something you also have to be careful with to eliminate. Shooting it more than once will cause massive problems. In this sequence, I did have to go through an advanced security check, but I was able to knock out the extra guards with some smoke grenades. Graphics and environments for the game look incredibly crisp, sharp, and detailed. Voice acting and dialogue sounds like it will be especially strong and natural. Besides Fisher, it looks like there is a strong supporting cast of characters. You actually have to think about your stealth approach and tactics which I also like. Once you figure out the right strategy, the game becomes a lot of fun.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist is set for an August 20 release on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, and Windows PC.