Splinter Cell: Blacklist is the latest release in the very popular Tom Clancy and Splinter Cell series’ of games, developed in-house and published by Ubisoft. Blacklist retains the classic genes of the Splinter Cell series, and adds a number of new enhancements and improvements to the popular formula. Read on for our overall impression of the game…

Blacklist focuses on a terrorist group, the Engineers, who are against US military bases and forces entering other countries. The entire world of the game is traversable using an upgradable aircraft named Paladin. This is the base of operations, allowing to travel between levels, upgrading your airship and conversing with your crew. Blacklist, like the previous Splinter Cell releases, given the player a lot of free choice in regards to how they want to play their game. You can go all guns blazing, or a opt for a stealthy, sneaky tactic, by extinguishing the lights or disabling security systems.

As always with Splinter Cell releases, Blacklist has a range of missions with varying themes, which really helps to keep the game fresh. Each mission is different to the last, and will usually require modification of a strategy, or, sometimes, a completely new strategy. One of the nice things in Blacklist is the adoption of more open-plan maps. The mission maps within the game are almost all far bigger than I had expected, and all you to revise your own routeways around the map, in a way that suits your play style. It is just another way in which the Splinter Cell series gives control of the game to the player as much as possible.

In terms of combat, well, a lot of you won’t be encountering all that much of it, as you will be opting from the more stealthy approach. Needless to say, the team still spend time on perfecting the combat system, and it really does work great. Don’t worry if you aren’t a fan of the stealthy options the game has, the developers spent plenty of time ensuring that the levels support tactical combat too. Blacklist rewards players depending on how they play with three different systems; Ghost, Assault and Panther.

Ghost is the system which you will be rewarded upon if you decide to go for the completely unnoticed style of play, in which you engage in very limited combat. This is for the people who generally would not execute any enemy unless absolutely necessary. Assault is the opposite, and rewards players completely on combat, with NO STEALTH involved. This is based on your combat and assassination performance. Finally, panther is the grading system for those who mix the two concepts, killing the enemies in a stealth fashion eg. sneaking up behind an enemy, and taking them out silently.

Co-op is supported in Blacklist, and, to be honest, this is where the game really stands out. Playing with a friend online or through splitscreen is a very fun experience, and really enhanced how I found the game. In terms of story, well, there isn’t that much of a plot to the game, it is mostly focused on gameplay. This is acceptable however, as the gameplay is so good that it truly makes up for the lightness in plot content.

Graphics and environments are fantastic; the weapons, characters and backgrounds are all created with stunning clarity and the sound effects and music complement them perfectly. The immersion in the game is excellent, thanks to the combined work of the life-like atmosphere and matching audible content. Even missions which are played in the darkness manage to keep the player immersed, mainly due to the amount of enjoyment gained from playing through the missions.

In terms of online multiplayer, there are a number of game modes, including the return of SPIES vs MERCS, a very popular option. The online multiplayer has a few minor enhancements over the previous games, but mostly it is just graphical. That said, there is no need to change a winning formula; the online multiplayer was much enjoyed in the past, and the same can be said for Blacklist – it is just as enjoyable!

While Splinter Cell: Blacklist may not seem like a major improvement over previous games in the Splinter Cell series, there was not really a huge enhancement needed. Blacklist delivers the same amount of enjoyment as the previous games offered, and I definitely recommend it if you are a fan of the series, or like games heavily featuring stealthy combat. The co-op and multiplayer options definitely offer excellent value, and the overall package offered is impressive.