Review: Splinter Cell Blacklist (Xbox 360)

With the recent passing of Author Tom Clancy, and the gaming empire than evolved from his works and characters, the release of Splinter Cell Blacklist was timed almost like he had scripted it. As with his writing though, I prefer the earlier games because like the earlier books, they were more concise and less paranoid than the ones of late.

By Wayne Webb

With the recent passing of Author Tom Clancy, and the gaming empire than evolved from his works and characters, the release of Splinter Cell Blacklist was timed almost like he had scripted it. As with his writing though, I prefer the earlier games because like the earlier books, they were more concise and less paranoid than the ones of late.

The game centers around a near omniscient terror group (the Engineers) who created the Blacklist, a secret list of targets and enemies of whatever terror they are peddling which the good guys then have to stop. The problem I have had with Clancy games recently is the overwhelming negativity. Everyone is at each other’s throats with the usual neo-con anger at pretty much everything including the people on their own side. It’s tiring listening to them threaten, bicker and disrespect each other ad nauseum. The bad guys are just too good at being bad and are always one step ahead, to keep the tension going.

Once you are beyond that, the game looks and feels pretty good apart from a few control issues where buttons get a bit glitchy and don’t trigger until you move. Or they can flash up too quickly and you turn on lights instead of opening doors, and vice versa. The home base on a plane (Agents of Shield anyone?) is a bit odd and you have to walk form station to station to equip, upgrade, get intel and sometimes endure loading times to transition. I’m not being lazy; it just feels unnecessary.

You can play in any style you like but I would recommend stealth as going hard will get you killed unless you are incredibly deadly yourself. In some levels you simply have to go dark, as avoiding detection is part of the goal. With weapons and gadgets in a big arsenal to choose from, the choice of how you play is in your hands and the game changes a lot depending on that. Sometimes I would find slow and steady was good, only to go in guns blazing the next time round and surprise myself with the result.

The rich graphics and great acting cast make it a visual and audio treat with a lot of care and attention in the design. Entertainment and quality are high on the designers and writers list of requirements, if only it weren’t selling a very negative and paranoid worldview. Not all shooters are this right wing, and they don’t need to be. Either way he has left a decent legacy in writing and by extension of his empires, movies and gaming. Rest in Peace Tom Clancy.

Pros: Stealth and planning required; hard combat if you want it; good graphics and voice work; loads of weapon option for varying play styles.

Cons: A peculiar brand of paranoia; occasional control issues; unwieldy ‘home base’ designs

 

3.5 Shacks Out Of 5

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