Don’t Worry, Though, Splinter Cell Still Has Stealth

By Nathan Grayson on November 14th, 2012 at 8:00 am.

For some reason, I always read it as Splinter Cell: Breakfast.

As Alec recently pointed out, Sam Fisher isn’t acting much like his old self these days. I mean, he’s technically gotten older, but – based on what we’ve seen so far of Blacklist – he may as well be some testosterone-bloated young gun who doesn’t play by the rules. Shoot this, break the arm of that, hold a man’s quivering neckflesh mere centimeters away from jagged glass’ unforgiving teeth. These are not the actions of a man for whom the stakes used to be “Get noticed and be totally disowned by your organization and country.” Now, though, Ubisoft’s trying to assure potential players that there’s more to the new Sam Fisher than meets the eye. He can still play non-lethal peek-a-boo with the best of them, Blacklist’s creators assert.

Closer than ever! You remember that, right? And technically, the incredibly dark stealth does seem quite functional, so that’s an, erm, bright spot if ever there was one.

Problem is, if Blacklist is anything like Conviction (and so far, it looks a whole, whole, whole lot like Conviction), true stealth will be a secondary concern. My fondest Splinter Cell memories are of ghosting through levels and making guards believe everything was a-okay. And while I didn’t despise Conviction by any means, so-called “offensive stealth” just didn’t really gel with me – at least, in Sam Fisher’s world. It felt… wrong. But if Blacklist’s levels are once again designed around that playstyle first and foremost, then no number of classic stealth mechanics is going to bring back the unique satisfaction of the Splinter Cell of yore. The philosophies are simply too different.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for seeing series evolve over time. I mean, even the most novel of mechanics would become pretty snooze-tacular if they didn’t. But come on, Sam. Look in the mirror. This isn’t you– ah, never mind. He’s not even listening to me. He’s just using the mirror to break someone’s face again.

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34 Comments »

  1. CaspianRoach says:

    That was it? Really? Did that really deserve a trailer, Ubisoft? He PUNCHED A GUY. And what’s with calling melee attacks “Closer Than Ever”? Will they be calling sniping “Further Than Most”, shooting a gun “Gunpowder Powered Termination” and climbing a ladder “Muscular Lifting System”?

  2. Lekker Pain says:

    Well that sure is reassuring.. NOT! The fact that they ruined one of my favourite franchises with mass appeal, unchallenging gameplay and no Ironside still stains my heart. No thank you.

    • slight says:

      Yep, just like they did with Rainbow 6 and Ghost Recon before it. Still this at least looks recognisably SC when you compare it with the horrors of the consolised R6 and GR.

  3. Coflash says:

    Uh huh. Looks awfully familiar.

  4. The First Door says:

    I really loved Conviction, but I was never a fan of the old Splinter Cell games. It was just nice that if the stealth did go wrong you could try and fight your way out of it rather than instantly restarting. I was more worried that the previous trailers looked like the terrible Iraq level from Conviction than anything.

    Still, I can see why fans of the older games might be a little irked.

    • lurkalisk says:

      You… You *loved* Conviction? I guess that’s your prerogative, but… How in the world could you enjoy Conviction to such an extent? Or, for that matter, how could you NOT like Chaos Theory?

      • HadToLogin says:

        In a same way some people love CoD and hate Arma. Everyone have his own needs, some loves hardcore stealth, others don’t.
        Can’t wait for new hate-war like CoD vs BF. This time: old SC vs new SC.

        • lurkalisk says:

          Well, my post was an inquiry. I do actually want to know what one might enjoy about conviction.

          • Syra says:

            I loved it too, because it had fast paced arcadey stealth, where everything is fluid and simple and abilities only facilitate the speed of the stealth not the shhhhhh of it. That is the general trend in stealth games these days, and it’s for the better. The old splinter cells being slow, tiresome, ridgid and unflexible – unwieldy almost – to control. They are good games don’t get me wrong but when I play them now I sit awkwardly wanting it to end. Don’t get me started on how awful the old hitman games are from this perspective.

          • Earl-Grey says:

            @syra

            You what?! All the better? I don’t even… What?!
            I must go and lie down somewhere.

            Attention spans these days! Amirite, huh?

            Joking aside.
            Different strokes and all that, I suppose..
            I however prefer sitting awkwardly in the dark, looking at people for ages, and in the game.

          • kament says:

            With Conviction being fairly restrictive and simplistic as far as stealth goes, I still somewhat liked it. More like attempt (to what Syra said) than actual game, but it still had its moments, when it wasn’t ordering you to murder everyone.

            I like Chaos Theory a lot more, but it really is mostly sitting around in the dark, waiting, even when the context is most urging, like after missile launch on that Korean battery, while Conviction relies on precision and speed. Now, nonlethal neutralization is already back and Sam can hide bodies again. If they manage to combine their new approach with possibility to ghost through level… well, here’s hoping.

            Although they probably have a story ready which demands that blood be spilled blah blah blah. We’ll see.

      • The First Door says:

        Mainly because although enjoy stealth I’m pretty terrible at it. That means games which punish me too harshly for messing up tend to slowly annoy me. With Conviction I didn’t feel like I was doing it wrong when it went wrong it up as you could recover things with a bit of violence. Also, although it was a minor thing, I really loved the way it projected objectives and video onto walls.

        Also, I found that the split-screen multiplayer was really fun with friends. It still gets played occasionally for that very reason.

        EDIT: Also, what Syra said. It was fun and fast paced, which I liked.

    • Vagrant says:

      Despite all the hardcore hate, the first half of Conviction (and most of the co-op) was actually pretty great. Unfortunately, the levels got worse the further in the game you played, to the point that the last level was a cover-based shooter. Chaos Theory is still deserving of it’s pedestal, but I’d hold Conviction up over some other entries in the series.

      The game does need to be approached with a different perspective. It’s more of a game about planned elimination than the old games’ incident avoidance, not unlike R6:Vegas (the first, not the terrible 2nd). Vegas was a puzzle game in which each room was a new puzzle where you clear terrorists instead of blocks. (Vegas 1 is the best R6 by the way). In both games you plan your entry, your target order, and then execute to unfold.

  5. Sulaco says:

    This does appeal to me, and I’m glad they’re making an ‘effort’ (I don’t know if it’s effort to include non-lethal options to a game classically about the choice between lethal/non-lethal enemy neutralisation) to appease the original fans. Lack of Ironside is upsetting, however.

  6. mrmalodor says:

    Press X to stealth.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Quickly tap alternating shoulder buttons to tippietoe!

      I will buy this… And like it alot, I should feel shame. Probably I still dip into Convictions Deniable Ops “defence mode” for some stealth “horde mode” fun. And I’ve played Chaos theory like 90 times.

  7. MattM says:

    I think it was Yahtzee (or maybe the Penny Arcade guys) who put into words the feelings I had had trouble expressing.
    I like action games and FPSs, and I think its good for series to evolve or try something new, but when a series moves from a under-crowded genre like stealth or survival horror, to an over-crowded one that bothers me. It doesn’t count as trying something new when all the series does is copy the mechanics and style of a game like COD that already has 5 imitators come out every year.

    • KenTWOu says:

      You can’t combine survival horror and shooter, these genres contradict each other. But you can combine shooter and stealth, Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Human Revolution already proved that.

  8. Iskariot says:

    i hope this game turns out good. I love high-tech stealth games. I also hope it will feature large levels with multiple approaches.

  9. povu says:

    I don’t know why, but I’ve never really been into third person stealth games. Other than Hitman Blood Money. And Mark of the Ninja but that’s a different beast entirely. I very prefer the likes of Thief, Deus Ex and Dishonored.

  10. kiamli says:

    As Nathan said, it’s not looking that way, but I really hope they integrate stealth in the level design, and not just go “Hey, it’s still there if you want!”.
    Chaos Theory just begged you to be stealthy with its level design, and that’s why I loved it.

  11. Prokroustis says:

    Because including stealth in an originally stealth game just to appease the “old fans” is such a good sign.

  12. lordfrikk says:

    Conviction was bad and even though I went in with quite the enthusiasm I ended up hating it. I don’t think they’re going to return to the roots but here’s hoping.

  13. Aldehyde says:

    Boy, he sure looks stupid when walking crouched.

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