Splinter Cell: Blacklist - 16 things we did in Tom Clancy's next thriller
Back on the job
Sam Fisher is no longer on the run. He has taken command of the brand new Fourth Echelon, and is even more lethal than ever before. This time he's fighting against a terrorist group known as The Engineers, who are threatening the world with a series of deadly attacks they call the Blacklist. Once again Sam must strap on his green-eyed, night vision goggles.
We played Splinter Cell: Blacklist at a recent Ubisoft event, and got to explore the game's new features, play through a few missions, and meet some unfamiliar faces. See what we did in our playthroughs of the Blacklist demo.
Explored the new Fourth Echelon mission hub (it's a plane)
Sam Fisher is moving up in the world. Not only is he in charge of the most secretive covert operative team in the US military, he gets his own plane, called the Paladin. Granted, this is no luxury jet, but it has all his team needs to counter the terrorist threats of The Engineers. From here, Sam can start missions, customize his gear, research upgrades, and talk with his crew.
Hung out with the new crew
The series hero isn't taking on all these terrorist threats alone: Now he has a crew of specialized operatives to assist him while he is in the field. Between missions, Sam can pull a Commander Shepard and wander around the plane to fraternise with his buddies. Each character sticks to their respective areas in the Paladin, so it was easy to find the crewmember we wanted to at any given time. For instance, Anna "Grim" Grimsdottir hangs out in the command center along with CIA operative Isaac Briggs, and the hacker/equipment tech tinkers with upgrades and new equipment in the armory.
Discovered the crew's unique abilities
The three other members of Fourth Echelon offered unique talents to the team. Grim provides mission intelligence and upgrades for the Paladin (more on that later). Issac Briggs is his backup in the field, but seems a bit green in the espionage department. The last member is the snarky hacker, Charlie Cole. He plays the part of the comic relief in more of a sarcastic and smart aleck sort of personality.
Upgraded the plane
The Paladin isn't just a place for your crew to stand around in--it can also actively assist you in missions if you put down some cold hard cash. Sam can upgrade the plane's cockpit, command and control center, infirmary, and crew quarters to improve things like the HUD's radar capabilities, improve health regeneration, uncover secret collectibles, and unlock new items.
Dove into the mission map
The benefit of having your homebase be a high-tech military airplane is that you can launch missions from anywhere. The Paladin is outfitted with a Strategic Mission Interface (SMI) that lets Sam choose which assignments to tackle. Multiple objectives will crop up during the campaign alongside the main story, including co-op missions, and you can choose them from the SMI. When you decide where you are going to take action, then it's time to figure out which equipment best fits the situation you're heading into.
Blacklist lets you completely customize what equipment you bring into the field letting you decide exactly how decked out Sam needs to be. Equipment doesn't just include the gadgets and weapons you'll bring with you, but also what you'll wear. Some of Sam's clothing options work better for being stealthy, while others provide a bit more protection from the hot lead coming from trigger-happy guards. Every piece of clothing can be hand-picked, from Sam's signature thermal goggles, to his chest gear, boots, gloves--you name it.
Modded out our guns
Upgrading Sam's armor is only half of it--the real customization comes with the options given for armaments. You'll be able to pick from a variety of handguns, shotguns, SMGs, assault rifles, and sniper rifles, each coming with a ton of attachments, scopes, ammo, and modifications to choose from. The modifications go as deep as to offer match grade triggers, and accurized barrels. Everything a special operations team needs.
Earned some money
In Blacklist, your actions determine which rewards you receive. Completing missions, accomplishing optional objectives, and performing certain actions in the field will earn you experience points which you can used to purchase new equipment. Your actions can earn you experience in three score pools, including the non-lethal Ghost, tactical killer Panther, and all-out Assault. Comparing the three pools at the mission's results screen will tell you how well you performed from a stealth standpoint, and since the Splinter Cell series has always encouraged stealth gameplay, you'll be better rewarded for your stealth-related actions.
Tried to Ghost a mission
Once we had our gear ready to go, it was time to head into the field. In Blacklist, the player gets rewarded based on the way they approach objectives. The most valuable actions (in terms of experience points) is anything that gets you Ghost points. Anytime Sam successfully bypasses enemy patrols without alerting them, we were rewarded with a hefty experience boost to purchase all those tempting armor and weapons upgrades we mentioned before. Staying hidden and planning our attacks well lead to some awesome moments, like...
Zipped down a zipline for a crazy cool takedown
That's right. Play your stealth cards right, and you can set up some pretty sweet takedowns. In this case, we zipped down a low-hanging wire while a guard's back was turned, dropped on his back, and slammed his face into the concrete. Threat neutralized.
Hid a body in a laundry cart
You'll also get major points for hiding your non-lethal takedowns where they won't be seen by other patrols. Like in a handy laundry cart. For those who like to preserve life, Ghosting levels is probably the optimal route, but there are other methods to taking down threats.
Stealthily murdered someone in cold blood
If you decide to be a bit more brutal in your takedowns you'll be rewarded with Panther points. Rather than sneaking past guards like a ghost, taking each one down like a predator provides an entirely different experience. This is a strategy in which you'll have to plan your attacks carefully, and use mark and execute effectively. This was our prefered tactical plan, since pulling off a perfectly planned group takedown made us feel like a total badass.
Went full-on guns blazing
Of course, going the stealthy route can run into some snags. And when a guard saw us and alerted all of his buddies, we didn't have much of a choice--so we broke out the big guns. Stealth games may generally discourage open combat, but taking out enemies while alerted in Blacklist still gets you Assault points. Earning Assault points by gunning down terrorists may not reward as much experience as ghosting them, but hey, at least you're getting something.
Used cool gadgets
What would a super secret agent be without an arsenal of special spy gadgets? In Blacklist, Sam Fisher is in no short supply. First off, Sam can carry a crossbow that can fire a variety of bolts with special tips, including a noise maker, sleep gas grenade, sticky shock, and EMP chaff. He can also take control of a Micro Tri-rotor Drone to take down unreachable guards with its taser weapon. Then there's Sam's signature night vision goggles which can be upgraded with specific enhancements like colored heat tracking and sonar.
Snuck around at night...
London's rainy, night time Abandoned Mill level made us feel like we were playing a regular, run-of-the-mill Splinter Cell mission. We had to watch out for lightning flashes illuminating Sam while hiding from guards, darkness was our friend, and as long as we stayed in her shadowy embrace, we felt safe. But that feeling completely changes when we took on a mission when the sun is still up.
...and during the day
In the daytime, in the police station level set in the Middle Eastern city of Benghazi, there are less shadows to skulk around in, so we found ourselves relying on gadgets, trickery, and occasionally some full-frontal marking and executing. The developers say they are putting several different environment types into Blacklist's missions, so you're going to have to get comfortable without the safety of the shadows and adapt to the conditions of the environment.
What do you think?
There you have it. We've played the game and given you the intel. So, what do you think about the new features? What are you excited about? Let us know in the comments below.
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