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.