Splinter Cell: Blacklist Review
I gave you my impressions of this game last weekend and now its time to give it a score. I’m not going to rehash the problems I had in the previous article so if it feels like I’m glossing over anything look that one up.
I criticized the story a lot for being bland but I can report that things do pick up towards the end of the game. It gets better but not remarkably so. I think the trend you are starting to see is everybody wants to have some variation of Heath Ledger’s Joker character in games. Black Ops 2 tried it with Raul Menendez and it stunk. It works slightly better here but its generally the same thing. "Just a dog chasing cars." I wish the story had focused more on some of the more morally ambiguous decisions that end up being made to defend the country but they are all apparently perfectly acceptable with no repercussions. I think that was a missed opportunity that would have brought an interesting dynamic to the story. Sam Fisher’s methods are never to be questioned though I guess.
The gameplay doesn’t change much. You are generally facing off with the same few enemy types you meet at the beginning of the game at the end of the game just in larger numbers. There are some navigation puzzles at the end of the game I found absolutely miserable. 1996 called. Navigating laser beams isn’t new, novel or cool anymore. I figured they might have learned their lesson with that from Conviction but Ubisoft hasn’t. The field of view and the depth perception just doesn’t support the mechanic.
I think the best thing I can say about the last half of the game is the sheer variety of the environments. You do move between some well designed indoor and outdoor environments. It was nice to see some snow in some places. There is some good variety in environments throughout the game. Visually the game doesn’t get stale which is something that can’t be said for past entries in the series that saw you navigate from one dark environment to the next.
Replay value is limited. I think that was the big motivating factor behind including the scoring system but I really don’t think it adds a whole lot. Once you’ve played a level and know the positions of the enemies you tend to be able to fly right through the levels anyway you want on subsequent playthroughs. Enemy behavior doesn’t change much. Short of going back through to get all of the playstyle achievements there really isn’t much reason to relive the Blacklist campaign once you’ve beaten it.
One thing I didn’t touch on at all in my previous post was multiplayer and co-op. That’s because all of it is rather pedestrian. Splinter Cell: Blacklist is a game where I wish I had the option to buy just the single player. Co-op is a mix of short original campaign missions mixed at times with some horde-mode like missions thrown in for good measure. I’m over horde-mode and battling wave after wave of enemies seems like a weird fit for a game that encourages stealth so much. I certainly wouldn’t buy the game just for the co-op.
The multiplayer offering is even more lacking. I just don’t see why Splinter Cell needs multiplayer. I think it’s a terrible fit for the franchise and is something that is only going to draw in a few hardcore players while everybody else passes it over for better offerings.
I’ve never been a fan of asymmetric multiplayer. In Blacklist you either play as a spy or a merc in multiplayer. Merc’s see the word in first person while spies see the game in the traditional third person view. The multiplayer modes are designed to try to play up the tension between the two. One mode sees spies trying to hack objectives from the shadows while the merc team stumbles around in the darkness trying to find the hackers. Spies are able to do one hit kills while merc’s need to pour bullets into the spies before they are able to get close. What happens is the game usually devolves into a lame campfest where a spy hangs on one particular piece of railing and dives down on top of an unsuspecting group of mercs over and over again. It’s boring and performing one hit kills while corner camping is tremendously unsatisfying. Also I have the same problem with Blacklist as I do with Call of Duty. Spies are still able to get a one-hit kill on you despite the fact that you are pouring bullets into them as they approach. Is it to much to ask developers to stop allowing melee attacks when a player is taking damage?
The control scheme is also strange. Reloading requires a cumbersome click of the right thumb stick. I constantly found myself hitting the wrong buttons while in first person. Just copy the control layout that Battlefield and Call of Duty and every other major first person shooter uses if I am going to be in that view please. It would eliminate a lot of confusion and frustration.
I feel like Ubisoft should just not worry about the multiplayer the next time around. Unless you have something really, really compelling there isn’t any reason for players to step away from Call of Duty or Battlefield or Killzone. Is it really worth spending all the time and resources it took to develop the Blacklist multiplayer for me to play two rounds and go "meh" and go back to play the titles that do that style of gameplay better? This isn’t a shot at just Ubisoft either. I have no clue why Batman: Arkham Origins has multiplayer. Serious didn’t anyone play the last game made by Splash Damage? Brink was awful. In my mind Warner Brothers would have been better off to light a few stacks of cash on fire. It’s probably going to be terrible. Tacking on multiplayer doesn’t add value. People that play these games and buy these games are smarter than studios are giving them credit for and they know to not waste time with things that aren’t going to be any good or lack depth. Needless to say I wouldn’t bother buying Blacklist for the multiplayer under any circumstances. You might be able to glean some small amount of enjoyment out of it but you’ll be moving on to bigger and better things quickly.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist is a good game. It has a lot of unnecessary modes and clutter though. I give it a 7.5 out of 10.