Blacklist – First Impressions

Ironically, I kinda sorta dissed Sam Fisher the other day in my post about last year’s Hitman. Nevertheless, I still had to get my hands on a copy of Splinter Cell: Blacklist.

As soon as you start the game, you’re thrown into the aftermath of a terrorist attack as your helicopter crash lands on the freeway. These terrorists, the Engineers, send an ominous message to the US, demanding they pull back all of their troops. If the US refuses to comply, the Engineers will launch a series of escalating attacks called the Blacklist.

20130820-144417.jpg I was worried that the story would be a little crummy and that Sam would have poor reasons to go sneaking around again. I was obviously proven wrong, and the game has good reasons to exist.

What caught my attention at first was the sound design. It’s much more crisp than the other Splinter Cell games I’ve played. The graphics are well done, but I was a little a disappointed in the facial textures. Quite honestly, the characters’ faces seem flat and basic. No, graphics aren’t a deal breaker, but I hate when a job is half done; there is more depth in the grass and dirt than there is on Fisher’s face, even with the HD pack.

While there was no focus on putting every pore in the characters’ faces, the three skill trees the game offers is a nice touch.

20130820-144305.jpgThe player can choose to play as a Ghost, silent and non-lethal, a Panther, stealthy and lethal, or Assault – Rambo. I do my best to stick to the Panther tree. I have an “everyone must die” attitude when I play Splinter Cell. Points can be acquired by playing with these different styles; Ghost racking up the highest amount. Points turn into money, which can be used to upgrade the plane your team lives in and unlock new gear and missions.

Last Splinter Cell game I played was Double Agent, so there may be elements in Conviction that are more familiar to other Blacklist players. But I was surprised when I noticed that I couldn’t interrogate enemies anymore, and, so far, Sam’s pistol doesn’t have an EMP device. I’m hoping there’s an upgrade for it later on. These little things, along with not being able to switch shoulders or zoom into first person, are just a few things I miss, but they’re not major problems with the game.

Obviously, big fans have been upset at the absence of Michael Ironside as the voice of Sam. Just like Kevin Conroy’s absence in Arkham Origins, all fans must learn not to get too attached to a voice actor. Johnson does a fine job as Sam, and the loss of Ironside does not make the game any worse.

The multiplayer and coop are nice as well.

20130820-144542.jpgSpies vs Mercs is interesting, but needs to be polished and balanced a little more. But there’s nothing like grabbing your headset and being matched with another player through Xbox live to work your way through a level as a team in a coop mission.

Blacklist is a good game. Not my favorite in the series, but maybe it’ll change my mind the more I play. I’ll let you guys know if that happens. For now, I’ve got a country to save.

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