Xbox splinter-cell-blacklist-preview

Published on June 9th, 2013 | by Richard Motokovsky

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Splinter Cell: Blacklist – Preview

Back when Splinter Cell: Conviction launched, the world was still reeling over the sheer brutality of the action-packed blockbuster Taken. Conviction riffed aptly on Liam Neeson’s one-man rampage, allowing the aging Sam Fisher to execute multiple targets with ease and interrogate thugs by bashing their faces into urinals. It passed the bad ass test but when the credits rolled, the empty feeling was that what had transpired wasn’t the Splinter Cell we once knew and loved. Swapping his jumpers and swish backpack for his good old Tac stealth suit, Splinter Cell: Blacklist promises a return to form, while continuing to fuel Sam’s bad ass streak.

Following the events of Conviction, Sam Fisher is put in charge of a secret new group called ‘Fourth Echelon’, a select group of elite operatives answering directly to the President of the United States, Patricia Caldwell. They’re well equipped, too. A mobile ops unit with unlimited resources and cutting edge technology travelling around the world in a stealth airliner called the Paladin. But no sooner as they are up and running, Sam and his crew are tasked with stopping 12 terrorists who’ve banded together to mastermind a series of escalating attacks on US interests known as the Blacklist.

Blacklist promises to deliver more variety in its approach from the direct confrontation of Conviction to the ghost-like stealth of past games. We’ve yet to see the extent of this but early impressions suggest a mix of both works nicely. A new Killing in Motion technique allows Sam to mark targets while dashing between cover allowing him to take out an entire room in a matter of seconds. Spy three enemies pacing a room using your door cam? Mark them and you can clear them all in one fell swoop.

He’s also been taking notes from his hooded friends, diving off ledges to perform takedowns and climbing up cliffs with ease using Active Sprint. But Sam’s ace is his array of gadgets. His goggles return allowing Sam to spot enemies through cover and snake cams and micro-tri rotor drones give him a heads up.

Blacklist will also make use of the Xbox 360’s Kinect allowing players to make noises that can distract the AI or, in a tight spot, call in help from his Fourth Echelon pals in the Paladin, such as a small-scale missile strike.

But it’s not all about the kill count. For those who’ve got a kick out of the non-lethal playthroughs of the likes of Deus Ex and more recently Dishonored, Blacklist will offer the same versatility of play. I have been eyes on with one demo played both using the Killing in Motion mechanics and again without killing or alerting any of the patrolling guards. It seems scouting your environment and hiding the bodies of knocked-out guards is the best way around, but will Sam Fisher’s story be completely kill free? Sam isn’t the kind of guy to poison a terrorist’s cookie and his ‘hands-on’ interrogations look as brutal as ever.

Many questions surrounding Blacklist have been left unanswered but such is the work of Sam Fisher and the Fourth Echelon. Will it be an action-packed shooter or a stealth lover’s dream? We just hope it’s better than Taken 2…

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