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PAX East 2013: Splinter Cell Black List Impressions

by on 03/23/2013

Splinter Cell has been a favorite of mine since I was young. As they made the transition into the next-gen though there was a definite change in style. The game changed their story elements and put you in a more action environment.

After being on the run in the most part of Splinter Cell: Conviction it appears the Sam Fisher has taken more of a classic route this time around and it is very welcomed. Mr. Fisher takes the role of the head of the Third Echelon and runs a small team. You base your operations out of a small HQ with a few unique characters that add personality to the story and help push it along.


Everything is run out of this HQ, you can customize Sam Fisher depending on your style or just the mission you are on, with a variety of options for each aspect of your gear. You can change the equipment or almost any part of your actual apparel to help make yourself more stealthy or more prone to taking damage. You even get a mini-map that shows you the locations where you can take missions, where your friends are doing co-op missions, or where your friends are participating in multiplayer sessions.

When you take on a mission you are greeted with a blend of classic Splinter Cell and the next-gen versions. You see elements like the targeting execution system as well as the ability to use complete stealth. We watched two playthroughs, one during the day where you were hunting down an important character in the story. Where Sam Fisher pick and choosed his battles with enemies and a night mission in London where Sam was able to avoid about 95% of all enemies to get it through it.

It was good to see the change from the weird action movie they were creating in Conviction. It isn’t a complete change back to the formula that made the stealth genre something exciting, but it was a step in the right direction to bring back the classic gameplay.

They even mentioned that Spies vs Mercs will be coming back in the game, as one of the original multiplayer titles on Xbox Live, I can’t wait for some of that classic action.


My biggest problem though, was the re-branding that occurred with Sam Fisher himself. They obviously made him younger so that his character could still be active yet still run the force, but the visual and audio change of the character has no resemblance to the original Sam.

There is no Michal Ironside doing the voice and Sam Fisher looks more like a 50 year old Nathan Drake. You couldn’t tell it was Sam if you weren’t playing a Splinter Cell, and that was pretty disappointing to see.

It wasn’t his character that made the last two games not as good, it was the gameplay. The interrogations with Sam were so funny in past games, it was upsetting to know that we wouldn’t be treated to new ones.

There are a lot of aspects where it has excelled the past Splinter cell games though and I am happy to see that. Kills feel great, strategy/stealth play big factors, and you are no longer on the run from your spy agency.

Granted we only saw two levels but I have a lot of faith that the outdoor and action-style gameplay will disappear. I mean for Gods sake it is famous for being one of the first to tackle stealth and be successful, I don’t see why they would run away from that.

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