Completing the campaign took about 10 hours, but that doesn't include the multitude of side missions available. These side missions can be tackled alone or with a friend either locally via split-screen or online. A handful of side missions are exclusively co-op, which is fine by me because the co-op in "Splinter Cell" has always been some of the best around. Likewise, the excellent Spies vs. Mercs competitive multiplayer mode makes its return to the series. Cash you earn completing campaign and side missions can be used to purchase new equipment and upgrades in multiplayer, too, which again serves to tie the entire experience together nicely.
As someone who's loved the "Splinter Cell" franchise from the beginning -- it's one of the main reasons I purchased an Xbox in the first place -- I had become dismayed watching the series stray so far from its stealth roots. Which makes "Splinter Cell: Blacklist" all the more sweet. This is the "Splinter Cell" I thought I'd never see again, but always hoped would return. The perfect blend of ideas old and new, "Blacklist" is simply the best "Splinter Cell" to date.
"Splinter Cell: Blacklist"
Developer: Ubisoft Toronto
Available for: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 ($59.99)
Rating: M for mature
Reach Jeff Rider at 304-348-5122 or jri...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/gazette_gamer.