'Splinter Cell Blacklist'
Sony PlayStation 3 (Xbox 360, PC)
ESRB rating: Mature
Review rating: 4.5 stars
Solid Snake may have introduced the world to stealth game play, but Sam Fisher makes it exciting! In "Splinter Cell Blacklist," the infamous operative returns to save the world, and the series, by focusing on stealth more than action. However, players can still "run-and-gun" through missions if they choose.
The USA is on high alert after a group of underground terrorists known as "The Engineers" announce that they'll execute large-scale attacks every week unless U.S. forces are pulled out of foreign countries. Only Sam Fisher and the 4th Echelon can stop these deadly terrorists and bring relative peace to our country.
I appreciate the ability to customize Sam's loadout before each mission because the default loadout isn't always to my liking. In addition, additional items such as a crossbow and sleeping gas grenades can be unlocked and/or upgraded with points earned in both single and multiplayer modes.
What's cool is that lethal items like regular grenades and silencers can also be used depending on what method is desired. This is one of the few stealth games where the actual gunplay is good enough to use as a main option instead of just a last resort. This means that most missions can be attacked head-on, using stealth or with an effective mix of the two.
The mark and execute mode that lets players mark up to four enemies and then take them out quickly returns, but it seems like less of a cheat now. It's also possible to equip the crossbow with sticky shocker ammo and use mark and execute to eliminate enemies in a non-lethal manner.
Online multiplayer modes run the gamut from tackling missions cooperatively to the return of the popular "Spies vs. Mercs." This mode is a really fun twist on standard competitive modes as one side assumes the roles of stealthy spies while the other side patrols areas as mercs. Both sides have different loadouts, which forces each to play the game very differently.
"Splinter Cell Blacklist" is a great return to the roots of the series.