If there’s any man who knows how to kill a room full of guys and not break a sweat while doing it, it’s Sam Fisher. Over the years, the star of the Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell franchise has been through hell and back, most recently with the Xbox 360 exclusive Conviction, where he drove himself to the brink to find out the truth behind his daughter’s death. With his latest adventure, Blacklist, he’s back busting his way through a new military campaign and looking very sharp as he does so.
Though details of the story haven’t yet been unveiled, Ubisoft did treat us to a few moments of sit-down gameplay, to kind of give us an idea of what to expect from the game.
First – and we might as well get this out of the way – Michael Ironside is not returning to voice the iconic character. Instead, Canadian actor Eric Johnson is stepping up, and thus far, he does sound pretty gruff. Ironside will be missed.
All the action you’ve come to expect from the Splinter Cell series appears completely intact. We were treated to a stage run-through in what appears to be an overseas village, with terrorists occupying a waypoint. Sam, in usual sneaky fashion, gets in by dressing up as one of the natives and bringing in a wounded soldier, then systematically eliminating three team members in a tent using the Conviction’s Mark and Execute tactic. This allows you to pinpoint targets and execute an entire group with a single button press.
The game has plenty of opportunities when it comes to marking and executing targets and it also reintroduces other classic Splinter Cell techniques from over the years. The wire cam is back, so you can peek under doors and see where targets are; Sam can also hang over ledges and dispatch of enemies using sneak tactics. He can also use a walking scan device, like a robotic grenade, to scope out enemies ahead and plan his next course of action. How you play depends entirely on what you’re in the mood for; you can go all guns blazing like a pro or ghost your way through making it a worthy Splinter Cell experience.
Even though the locale has changed from Conviction, it definitely looks good. Ubisoft Toronto, working on its first project with Blacklist, are up to the job of crafting a world-class Splinter Cell. The character models are excellent, especially Fisher, and the environmental detail is unprecedented, especially when it hits the fan with incoming missiles at the conclusion of the demo.
We’ll have more coverage on Splinter Cell Blacklist over the next few months as we get closer to its 2013 release date. For now, get happy – Sam Fisher is back! (Even though he doesn’t quite sound the same.)