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Review Splinter Cell Blacklist (PS3)

genre: stealth, action/adventure

Blacklist is the game I expected Conviction to be. It is a return to the old school parts in the franchise where you had more freedom to achieve your objectives. That does not mean the game is automatically better than Conviction. Because I do think some things in Blacklist are seriously flawed. However the joy and satisfaction I got from playing Splinter Cell on a next gen in more or less old school fashion is so huge that I am more forgiving regarding these flaws.

Blacklist allows you to play according to a style that suits you the best. It has to be made clear though that stealth is always the best choice since it gives you the most points. Arguably because it is more difficult to achieve objectives playing it stealthily. In my opinion it is the only style that offers the most fun. It never gets tiring too take out an enemy and not being noticed while doing so. One of my criticisms though is that the player was made to believe you could switch up styles very easily. And this is not the case. Upgrading weapons and gear that belong to your play style costs. Sure you can replay missions over and over again to earn money but in the initial gameplay you don’t earn enough to implement all play styles  successfully. This is a limitation on the freedom. Sadly one of many.

In the earlier levels you get to finish missions you see fit. Although further in the game you come across some annoyances or obstacles that take away the freedom that is promised. One of these obstacles is one type of enemy that makes no sense in a franchise that prides itself for the realism. The heavy armored soldier. Unlike in previous games, you can only take them out in specific ways. In older games when you ran out of bullets or gadgets you had the option to disable the soldiers with your knife or fist no matter how you faced them. Now even unloading your heaviest guns have no effect. You really have to approach them silently from behind. This does make sense. However these heavy armored guys also have been given super enhanced perception since they are able to spot and hear you from far away. Aggravating and that is putting it mildly. Without hesitance I can tell you that I found the use of this enemy adding a difficulty that felt cheap and was not needed at all. Another annoyance was that in in some sequences you were forced to play according to a certain style despite the one you have chosen. On top of that in the final mission for example you get a boss fight where not only are you stripped from your weapons, you also can't use any of your very handy and useful gadgets. Taking away every advantage you desperately need.  I can honestly say that boss fights don't belong in a Splinter Cell game. What were they thinking? This is not Metal Gear Solid.

The side missions were more like the older games where you have to be really patient and not let your guard down. One mistake usually means failure. This challenge excited me to no end. But honestly to have no checkpoints or save option before reaching objective in a two level mission does become a little frustrating after failing the mission so many times. Why do I need to replay an already achieved objective in order to get to the second one. Some of these missions become a cake walk once you get your hands on a silenced sniper rifle. But even then you have to focus quite a lot. I surely can recommend doing all of the side missions except maybe the ones offered by Charlie. Having to reach a number of take downs or kills to as a mission objective for me personally is no fun. Although it does help you to get a feel of Sam Fisher's abilities.

The controls. I can't tell you how bad they were compared to Conviction or even the older ones. It is really bad when controls of an older game is superior to that of a new game. By bad I mean that they were unresponsive at times. In a game where you need to make good use of your environment tight controls are everything. In Conviction it took a little time to getting used to the new mechanics but very soon they became intuitive and fluid. This fluidity has decreased and will cause you to make some mistakes.

Another huge thing for me is the lack of Michael Ironside. He is Sam Fisher. I have seen the motivations for him not being in this one. But to be honest that sounds like a bunch of excuses. It seems like they wanted to youngify Sam even further. Ironside was more than just a voice. He added personality and meat to a character that made him more interesting. This newer actor was just a voice that eventually does grow on you but can't make you forget about Michael Ironside.

Other than these flaws or annoyances I found this game to be worth the time I spend playing it. And without a doubt I will be replaying it if only to get that satisfaction to take out enemies like a ninja. It is rather odd that this game has not been given more publicity. Especially since overall the game is very good and a lot of fun. While the story fails to grab you or even be remotely interesting it is the gameplay that shines as it always has and is the one thing that got me hooked into this game right from the start. For me this is the best of the next gen versions leaving Conviction and Double Agent far behind. Get your hands on this game!

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