Title: “Splinter Cell Blacklist”
Format: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC
ESRB Rating: M (Mature, 17+)
The grade: B+
What is it?
"Splinter Cell Blacklist" is the seventh iteration of Tom Clancy's popular action-stealth video game series, starring protagonist Sam Fisher. This time around, Fisher takes on a group of terrorists who have initiated a countdown of escalating attacks on the U.S. called the Blacklist. To combat the threat, Fisher is named the commander of a new covert military unit, Fourth Echelon.
Choose your own adventure."The Splinter Cell" series is know for stealth, although it has slightly veered from that formula from time to time. In 2010's "Splinter Cell: Conviction," gamers were forced to be much more trigger-happy than normal. But in "Blacklist," players can choose their own way to explore the game. If someone wants to be stealthy (Ghost Style), they can. If they want to get in shootouts (Assault), they can do that, too. And if you want to be a combination of both (Panther), have at it.
Fun multiplayer modes. There is no Team Death Match or Capture the Flag in "Blacklist." It just doesn't fit the game. Instead Ubisoft went with two more appropriate multiplayer features. Gamers can play through 14 solid co-op missions locally or online, but what most gamers will be excited about is the return of Spies vs. Mercs, which hasn't been seen since 2006's "Splinter Cell Double Agent." This mode, which supports up to eight players, depending on which version you play (Classic or Blacklist), brings back the long-missed challenge of heavy weapon Mercs trying to stop quick and stealthy spies. Unlike most multiplayer modes, which consists of running and gunning, Spies vs. Mercs requires more strategy than brawn. It's a feature unique to the series and its return is a welcome one.
High replay value. With three distinct play styles and a satisfying multiplayer offering, gamers are certain to get their money's worth with "Blacklist." But there are also a ton of customizations players can spend a lot of time earning as well. Whether it's adding new features to gadgets, upgrading your headquarters or fine-tuning weapons, gamers will always have something to do.
Game presentation. Michael "Jester" Ironside, the veteran character actor and long-time voice of Sam Fisher is out, replaced by Eric Johnson. Ironside's presence is sorely missed, as Fisher sounds significantly younger than the 40ish character is supposed to sound. Johnson just doesn't give Fisher the depth, personality and gravitas that Ironside did. Adding to the disappointing game presentation are subpar graphics.
Sneaking around, using cool gadgets and getting back into the world of Sam Fisher was a ton of fun. With a great multiplayer suite, a wide variety of unique and diverse environments to explore and numerous ways to take on enemies, gamers can't help but have a good time with "Splinter Cell Blacklist."
Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.