Wot I Think – Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Splinter Cell is one of those series that suffers through repetition. There are so many of the buggers, the most recent being the borderline-psychotic Conviction, that only the die-hard keep track, and to everyone else it’s one amorphous blob of banjo-legged throat-slitting. But Blacklist is far more than a production-line piece of gristle. It’s not merely an exemplary slice of, forgive the oxymoron, action-stealth – but also contains the best Aliens game in years.

No you didn’t misread that, so hit the jump and find out why.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist is a game that wants to be described as ‘badass’, but fortunately it also comes with some excellent customisation options. You know Sam Fisher’s little goggle lights? You can make those pink. And give the body a swanky navy finish. Blacklist’s scenario is yer average 24-aping Man Saves America setup – so something about snapping all those foreign necks while glowing like a fairy tree just tickles me pink.

Blacklist needs one rather obvious housekeeping notice: if you’re at all tempted by this, get it on Steam. I’ve been playing on uPlay and it’s a monster; the first time I booted it up, Blacklist spent fifteen minutes downloading and then around the same installing some release fixes. OK, I’ll give you that one. The second time, it did the same sorting out version 1.1. The third, it merrily began work on version 1.2. All over two days. Ubisoft need to fix this shit, because it’s awful.

The rest of Blacklist is great! And one of its neatest tricks is integrating singleplayer, co-op and multiplayer into Fisher’s gigantic new proxy-wang, the Paladin – a plane that hosts himself and crew between missions, with a central map of future options alongside annexes where you fiddle with loadouts and upgrades. If you want to be a cynic then yes, it’s basically a very fancy menu, but the way it continually updates with data and integrates all of Fisher’s options gets me hot.

Blacklist’s campaign is a bit of a reverse-ferret from Conviction – for those who missed it, the latter’s idea of espionage was smashing heads into solid objects, plus the odd bit of hiding while enemies snarled WE’RE GONNA GUT YA DANGLIES FISHER. Then you’d smash their heads in. Blacklist returns to the more classic spy theme of hiding in the dark, and builds its gadgets and rewards around three styles of play – Ghost, which means you’re Mr Sneako Unseen; Panther, which means hiding but also killing enemies; and Assault, for cigar-chomping types who don’t see why they’re hiding from these commie assholes anyway.

I’m not one of those elitist types who insists every game has to be played on Hard (or ‘Realism’ in this case), but Blacklist is definitely one of those singleplayer experiences at its best when the enemies aren’t wearing blinkers – on Normal, unless you’re literally playing the mariachi in broad daylight, the baddies are just a tad too slow on the uptake.

It’s rewarding playing like this because the beauty of Sam Fisher as an avatar isn’t in the truly impressive range of toys he has, though they’re fun, but in his lithe mastery of environments – from silent, staccato movements along cramped corridors to fluid clambering around more open arenas. Blacklist is a linear game, of course, but within this it’s rarely guilty of being a straightforward one; there’s always more than one way to skin these cats.

The best thing about these environments, and this is a thread that runs through the other modes, is the shadow. Pools of darkness come to feel like home before long, with light sources begging to be shot out or shut down, and this plays off beautifully against the enemies’ gun-mounted flashlights – which, particularly when they know you’re in the area, begin to sweep across the black in flittering, deadly patterns. When you’re guiding Fisher through a brightly-lit area it feels horrible, exposed, like someone’s flicked on your bedroom light at 6am.

I didn’t go into Blacklist’s campaign expecting much, to be honest, and I left impressed. Sure the story’s Clancyballs but, as far as super-serious spy thrillers go, it cracks along at a fair old pace with more than a few digs at and echoes of current geopolitics. There are foibles: the cover mechanic can be a little sticky, which sounds like a bigger deal than it is in practice, and it’s often fond of ending levels with set-pieces that rather ruin the effect of all your previous sneaky-sneaktime. But as far as Splinter Cell games go, this is probably the best I’ve played in a decade of ’em.

The surprising thing is that it also includes – hold on to your hats – the best Alien game of recent times too. The Spies vs Mercs multiplayer mode, removed from Conviction, makes a truly triumphant return here and is amazing thanks to, of all things, mixing in a firstperson perspective with standard thirdperson play.

How it works: an area has terminals A, B and C. Two spies want to hack those terminals, but only one can be hacked at a time. Two Mercs want to stop this with big guns. The spies are controlled in thirdperson and work just like Fisher – they can clamber all over the place, have various gadgets that can stun or disorient the Mercs, and up-close or from certain vantage points can perform an instant kill. When one starts a hack, they have to stay within a reasonably-sized boundary and wait it out for just over a minute; but the Mercs are instantly alerted and start rushing to the scene.

The Mercs are controlled in firstperson and move slower than the Spies – lumbering is the word, though they can sprint. What is immediately obvious when playing, and perhaps isn’t when reading about it, is how much this limits your field of view compared to the thirdperson perspective. You’ve got a motion sensor to help. You’ve got all the hardware you need to kill anything in plain sight. And you’re looking at a narrow sliver of a level, illuminated brightly by your gun-mounted torch, and around is naught but dark and the sound of scuttling.

Playing as a Spy you feel vulnerable. They can’t take much damage, and if a Merc sees you the chances are it’s respawn time. But playing as a Merc is terrifying. You and your buddy stick together, sweeping rooms with the torch beams and watching each other’s backs, but as soon as that hack starts you’ve both got to hightail it to that part of the level – and in that room you both know, with absolute certainty, there’s an ambush waiting.

Should you split up and sweep the room faster? It seems like a good idea, and then a few seconds later your mate shouts out. You run back only to see his corpse and… nothing. Your motion detector beeps – there’s something up ahead and to the left. You step forwards, licking your lips with nerves, and the knife slides between your shoulderblades.

This 2vs2 mode, Spies Vs Mercs Classic, is the greatest! I love it, and though the Alien comparison might not make much sense it’s exactly what this feels like. You do kinda need a friend with Blacklist and to be using voicechat to get the best experience, but come on. It has one minor problem which needs patching: I had a few games against very high level players who’d memorised every spawning position and indulged in some douchebaggery. That was the exception rather than the rule, but unless the spawns are further randomised it’ll only become more common.

Blacklist has other multiplayer modes, which I’ve dabbled in, but the 4vs4 Spies Vs Mercs mode seemed much more incoherent and blasty – which is down to not only the increased headcount but high-powered custom loadouts (Classic has a fixed setup). There are also a load of campaign missions that can be played in co-op – some of which can only be played in co-op – and, while I’d love to pretend I’ve played all of these, me and my buddy got halfway through the first wave-based challenge then decided to play some more Spies Vs Mercs Classic. No regrets.

Spies Vs Mercs is properly amazing, and the cherry on top of a great package. I’ve always enjoyed the odd Splinter Cell game, whilst never quite having a poster of Sam Fisher on the wall, but Blacklist is one of the most pleasant gaming surprises of the year.

And one tiny thing to finish off with, which kind of ties in to Sam’s goggles – Splinter Cell is a po-faced world, but that doesn’t Blacklist is without humour. There’s an early campaign mission where you creep into a building via the roof, on hostage rescue duty, and end up on a gantry overlooking a bunch of terrorists. You make a mental note of the flashlight positions, then find a pipe and silently slide down.

At ground level there’s candystripe, hot-dog-stands, and bunting strewn all around. Sam moves through the darkness towards his targets, those pink goggles flare, and the infectiously jolly christmas song in the background gets ever-louder. “We can hardly see the top, Daddy’s axe goes chop-chop-chop…” It’s about a tree, of course, but you can’t help cracking a smile. These guys are toast. And those hostages, just like you, are in very safe hands.

Splinter Cell Blacklist is out now.


  1. BobbyDylan says:

    Wow. That’s encouraging. Mayhap I should get my hands on this….

  2. Matchstick says:

    You had to go and remind me of that frickin Christmas Tree song, didn’t you… :(

  3. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    Best you’ve played in a decade of Splinter Cells?

    Better than Chaos Theory!?

    • aymanpg says:

      actually,yes I agree with him

    • Blad the impaler says:

      No. Nothing in the history of video games is better than Chaos Theory.
      But this is a really nice addition to the series. It’s slightly better than Conviction with much better sneaky bits.

      • HadToLogin says:

        But, but, RPS just published long love letter about Dota2…

    • kament says:

      Not for a purist, it’s not. There are said setpieces, and sometimes you need to protect someone and get rid of the baddies. But I’d say it’s just that Blacklist does more than CT. Anyway, it’s got shadows, so a great deal of the game allows for a pure sneaking around just like in the old days. Actually sometimes it’s forbidden to touch anyone.

      You won’t be able to sit around in the dark right under their noses, though; if they’re close enough, they see you. Unless you’re in cover, but that is not a safe place either. Especially if there’s a dog around, barking, tracking you down, alerting everyone and drawing them to you. Ugh.

      Incidentally, Blacklist does what some people have asked for: if you’re careless enough to left a body to be found, they will start searching and they won’t give up because “probably rats” and “hearing things”.

    • AlwaysRight says:

      Unless Amon Tobin did the soundtrack and it has the best coop gameplay mode ever, I doubt it (I havent played Blacklist yet).

    • Turin Turambar says:

      Chaos Theory is overrated. Best of the old SC, but the old SC were pretty bad, CT was just decent.

      • AlwaysRight says:

        It was the best game of its generation, of course better games will come along but the bar is constantly rising. However CT will always be the best game for the original Xbox, you just can’t argue with fundamenal scientific facts like that.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      Well, it’s the best Splinter Cell SINCE Chaos Theory, at any rate.

  4. Enkinan says:

    Wow, wasn’t expecting that. I may look in to this.

  5. InnerPartisan says:

    Sooo…. the idle dialogue has been toned down a bit, I take it?

    (“Hey FISHER! Remember the airport, FISHER? Yeah, I was there too, FISHER! This time we’ll get you, FISHER!”)

  6. Dave Tosser says:

    The screenshot of the scripted escape sequence does a lot to undermine all your good will. I actually got Blacklist free with a GPU. A 20GB game has to work really hard to earn those 20GB, because even if it’s a slice of fried gold it’s still this potbellied fucker hogging more drive space than it really needs to. Blacklist didn’t impress me- I’m not a fan of cover-based stealth, I don’t like Nu-Fisher, I don’t like that even if you try Lytha-style ghosting there’ll still be moments where the game forces you to break all that, and I spent the five hours or so I played of it pining for Chaos Theory.

    So I reinstalled Chaos Theory. It’s great! Good ol’ open-ended stealth fun. No Thief 2, but I dare say we’re going backwards if had that back then and we have to make do with this right now- a game slavering to go full manshoot, meaning every corridor skulk feels like the game’s humouring you for a bit before it goes for what it really wants to do. Which is shoot vaguely foreign people with a machine gun. Loudly. I didn’t do any Spies vs Mercs, but I can live without 20GB of STEALTH ACTION.

    • ziusudra says:

      Yeah I agree, its not CT. The sticky cover system really gets me, the game plays itself.

  7. Demiath says:

    Have played the first few campaign assignments as well as quite a few side missions and what I’ve seen so far has been very nice indeed (multiplayer is not my cup of tea so I can’t speak for the Spies vs Mercs stuff). If only I understood the nuances of the elaborate scoring system I’d even be tempted to replay missions to climb the leaderboards a bit…

    The environments may lack the visual originality and personality of Hitman: Absolution (an underrated gem of a stealth game, if only you accept it as such) but are likewise neatly divided into smaller segments which are well-suited for a stealth purist play style but make far less sense if you take an action-oriented approach. Ubisoft only did themselves a disservice by pretending that there are as many as three viable ways to approach this game given that it was clearly designed around sneaking, exploring and taking your time.

    • KenTWOu says:

      Hitman: Absolution an underrated gem of a stealth game…

      There is a very high chance that Blacklist will suffer the same fate :)

    • jawfun says:

      As far as I know getting the maximum score requires 4 main things :

      -Difficulty, perfectionist gives the highest score multiplier
      -Exploration bonuses, which are worth 100 points each so are sometimes worth a slower time
      -Ghost play style, leaving enemys undisturbed is worth more
      -Time, I don’t know how much time affects it but all I know it does have some effect on the score

  8. akstro says:

    How is the port? I remember Conciction’s being god awful in optimisation and such and from what I have heard the DX11 features hit the framerate hard.

    • KenTWOu says:

      Don’t know anything about DX11, but DX9 works much better than Conviction, probably because they did this (source):

      We do a pre-pass on the geometry to determine visibility. In Splinter Cell Conviction we did this on the GPU, but this caused some CPU/GPU stalls as one waited for the other to complete its operations. Now we get the CPU to rasterize occlusion geometry. With multiple cores, this becomes a big win…

      Also there is no frame by frame synchronization, therefore, there is no annoying 30 fps cap during co-op and low performance when internet connection between players isn’t stable enough. So even co-op works much better. By the way, It has in-game text chat.

    • KenTWOu says:

      sorry, double posting

  9. WoundedBum says:

    Oh, I wasn’t expecting such a positive review, but it reflects how I feel about it quite a lot. I had a lot of fun playing it what little SvM I played seemed interesting.

  10. feffrey says:

    Nothing about the lack of quick save? Having to replay a level over and over and over again by simply getting detected got stupid tedious.

    • RIDEBIRD says:

      That’s the case in Grim’s missions. Regular story missions have frequent checkpoints. I found the one Grim mission I’ve done quite tedious for the same reason, but when I figured it out it took me like seven minutes or something to do. It was actually quite refreshing to see that type of trial and error type memorization going on, but then I love Dark Souls.

      I quite like the game, where the only real negative factor so far is Charlie’s ultra repetetive missions and the fact that the new voice for Sam is just terrible. Ironside was of course amazing and something special, but this guy is terrible even for general video game voice actors. The flattest of delivery with absolutely no passion. He just sucks. Fortunatenly Sam mutters few words, so it’s bareable.

  11. Reapy says:

    I played the shit out of the pandora tomorrow multiplayer demo. The spy vs mercs really was great, and stealth gameplay was fun for the first time in my life against real people instead of AI, it made all the difference in the world. I am curious how the gameplay has evolved over the years, if at all, may look into this guy if my well of games dries up.

  12. Andy`` says:

    Can I join in?

    Blacklist has a fun game in there somewhere broken up by frustating and generally super linear diversions in the singleplayer (mini-drone controlling, first person Briggs, some of the “don’t get detected” bits, etc.), some iffy PC port issues with buggy controls, or if you use a controller alt-tab issues, the interesting decision to have sprinting make you automatically leap over things and bash through doors when it’s a game where accuracy matters more than fluidity. But I’m probably just jaded by noticing that all of Ubi’s recent games are converging to become The One True Game (they kind of all look the same, it has me worried about Watch Dogs).

    Multiplayer also has some different mechanics which balances it better but leads to some different control issues and frustrations, with the keyboard and mouse anyway (like sprint getting stuck on as a Spy). Had coop break in some properly awful ways too, and actually getting this (and other Uplay games) to work online in the first place was a chore.

    When it all works though, and when the game’s not trying to distract you by occasionally pretending its a different game, or insisting that you need a break from all the fun you’ve been having, it’s actually quite good. In theory better than Conviction, just not as consistent in its execution, for better or worse.

    Oh and between missions you get to pretend you’re playing Mass Effect.

    • Wut The Melon says:

      Some interesting comments there : ). I’ve heard they screwed up the PC port of Blacklist less than Conviction (which doesn’t say a lot), but apparently it still has its issues.
      I second your comment that Ubisoft seems to be heading for the One True Game… so many similarities between their franchises nowadays. Though fortunately Blacklist seems more than Conviction 1.1.

      From what I’ve seen, and Rich mentions this as well, the game itself is miles ahead of Conviction (which was an utter piece of …). The main difference being that stealth plays a role again. I might check this out eventually, if I get over Ubisoft ruining the Assassin’s Creed franchise for me AND their unceremonial firing of Sands-of-Time-Creator Patrice Désilets.

  13. Aldehyde says:

    I like the game but there is one game breaking bug for me that is truly annoying. My friends and I can’t join each other’s lobbies. We can’t play co-op or SvM together. We’ve tried everything but nothing works and we’re not the only ones with this issue.

    Other than that, it’s a decent port. Runs smoothly except for some memory leakage while using DX11 but I think that was fixed in a patch (I still run it in DX9, haven’t bothered to switch back to DX11).

    Much more fun than I thought it’d be actually. I was genuinely surprised that you could sneak past pretty much everything except for some small parts of the game. The multiplayer is fun from what I’ve played, I just wish I could play with my friends.

    • Andy`` says:

      Things I had to go through to get it to work, might help.

      In Network and Sharing Center, disable all network adapters except the one that connects you to the internet (this seemed to be the fix that makes it work if you’ve tried/applied some or all the others, so try this first probably then apply more until it works). Programs like Hamachi, or simply just having other network adapters running, seems to break the whole thing somehow.

      Open Uplay and Blacklist ports on the router: link to support.ubi.com

      Make sure the game’s allowed through Windows Firewall. In advanced settings, Inbound Rules, you may found the game under a few different names: Blacklist_game, Blacklist_DX11_game, and few that use the full title (Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist, maybe with something tagged on the end). I also allowed Edge Traversal in the properties of all of these (or at least the game ones, not launcher ones), might not do anything but if you’re still having problems it could be a NAT issue so try it.

      If you’ve gotten this far and it doesnt work then all of this + running as administrator might do it. Or might do nothing. This stuff also worked for other Uplay games like Trials Evolution (which I hadn’t been able to play online until I found out about the first fix).

      Also, if one of you is on Steam and one is on Uplay, make sure you have the same version of the game installed (check version.ini in the game’s installation folder) or you’ll be going nowhere.

      • Aldehyde says:

        We’re both on Steam, all my ports are forwarded, my Windows Firewall is disabled but the game doesn’t even show up in its settings, not even after enabling the damn thing. I have tried everything, nothing works.

  14. strangeloup says:

    You had me at pink goggles.

  15. AlwaysRight says:

    Rich Stanton? Michael Cohen? Ben Barrett? Mufty Snarfwangle? Who are all these new RPS writers and why should we trust them?

    • Stellar Duck says:

      That’s actually a good point. While I’ve both heard about Rich Stanton and read some of him before I don’t really know him from Jack, and so this review is not worth a whole lot to me. I long since stopped going by a review if I don’t know the writer and his tastes and how he plays games and how that all stacks up compared to me.

      If one of the regulars here write something, even something I don’t agree with, I know where they’re coming from and can filter their biases through my own and usually come up with a fair idea about a game and if I’d like it.

      In this case, I can’t use it. I don’t know how the reviewer plays games in genera, how his history with Splinter Cell is and how he approaches stealth games in general.

      To be clear: it’s not that I don’t trust them. I just can’t use their opinions and especially not for a Splinter Cell game where I’ve a fairly hard coded disgust for anything post Chaos Theory.

  16. DaftPunk says:


  17. Rukumouru says:

    Seriously RPS? No GHOST PANTHER?

    You should be ashamed of yourselves.

  18. Simon Hawthorne says:

    I remember when this game was previewed there was a quick time event where you had no choice but to torture an unarmed captive – has this been removed from the game?

    I ask because it would be great if it had – and if it was still in there I would have thought it would have been mentioned again. I feel uneasy at the casual nature of the original scene.

    • Dave Tosser says:

      This time you get a choice between shooting a man or not shooting a man. The choice is rather futile, given that this is a manshoot.

  19. hernismall says:

    Blacklist > Chaos Theory… There I said it.

    • KenTWOu says:

      Blacklist AI > Chaos Theory AI… And that’s quite an achievement!

  20. chabuhi says:

    First, shoot out the light, then kill the guard?

  21. phenom_x8 says:

    The must fun sealth game have ever played, theres a minor annoyance like the lacks of interactivity here (that generator, why I have to shut the lights one by one rather than turned this things off). But overall, its a much better Splinter Cell than Conviction and I’m quite enjoy it finishing 4E mission from Sam’s compatriot. I’m started playing in Perfectionist BTW (and has to repeat many of its mission, but I love it) with all the scoring feedback turned off and minimum HUD(needs some times to make use of it), and I never look back after that.
    Nice WiT though, many of other outlet underrated this game, but I think its worth a shot for hardcore SC (and stealth) fans. Just hope I get that scrolling movement back.

  22. Radiant says:


    Also rps why do you confuse me with affection for something I expected to hate.
    It’s like my gran gave me a really wearable jumper for christmas.

    • Gap Gen says:

      That said I like my danglies and their guts, and so may avoid this game for fear of the status quo being unsettled on this one.

  23. dsch says:

    The sun’s up by 6am.

  24. Grape Flavor says:

    LOL at all the people upset at RPS giving a positive review to a game they were determined to despise from the second it was announced. This is the best incident of this since Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

    I have to say, I may not always agree with the writers but they are definitely a more positive, reasonable, and open-minded lot than the comment section, which can actually be pretty terrible sometimes all the time.

    I can’t wait to see if the RPS verdict on Dragon Age: Inquisition* is that it’s actually pretty cool. The flailing rage in the comment section will be hilarious.

    *Or you know, Thief or any one of the dozens of titles RPS commenters have viciously hated on ever since it was nothing more than a paragraph-long press release and a logo.

  25. yesterdayisawadeer says:

    One of the earliest plot missions has you DEFENDING A POINT AGAINST WAVES OF ENEMIES. There is also an optional quest line which consists ENTIRELY OF KILL X BADDIES missions (Yes, you can ignore them, but they give precious money, which you need to upgrade your stuff so that enemies don’t detect you when you’re sneeking THREE EFFING METERS BEHIND THEM).
    Plus the game basically forces you to use that idiotic gung-ho MARK & EXECUTE feature – a lingering issue from Conviction.
    This is a continuation of that deplorable trait in modern stealth games – making them stealth-action. Trying to appeal to people who don’t want to sneak around. WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU DO THAT? YOU ARE A STEALTH GAME! PEOPLE WHO DON’T WANT TO SNEAK AROUND DON’T EVEN PLAY STEALTH GAMES! You are turning off existing fans of the franchise for people who MIGHT become fans. That’s all kinds of stupid.

    • Boffin says:

      Hi! Splinter Cell fan here!
      I loved the first couple of games, but didn’t get into Double Agent at all. I picked up Conviction on a whim and found it rather enjoyable, and Blacklist seems better than that (although I’ve barely played it).

      In my case them mixing it up led to two more sales and I imagine I’m not the only one who did that. There’s more than one kind of fan, so perhaps they’re less interested in chasing the fans who want them to slavishly repeat themselves for eternity.

      • yesterdayisawadeer says:

        You buy a chocolate bar. You unwrap it. There’s a salami in there.

        Nothing wrong with the salami. Just not something you expected to find in a chocolate bar wrap. Some people go “Oh, salami, whatever. Still ate delicious food.”, but others want their goddam chocolate bar.

        • Boffin says:

          I absolutely loathe analogies and what they do to discussions, but I’ve done my best to contribute.

          It’s more like a chocolate company making a new treat that looks like chocolate, but is made out of salami. Then they tell everyone that about the new salami bar and give it its own distinctive packaging. People buy both, one, or none and that’s cool – whatever.

          Then someone starts ranting about how great chocolate bars are and how they shouldn’t have changed them to chase the salami-enthusiast market. This confuses everyone else, who all wonder why he doesn’t just stick with his chocolate bars, since the salami bar is obviously not his thing.

          I don’t see why we can’t both have our treats. New Splinter Cell existing doesn’t remove the old ones from existence. I can get being disappointed for sure, but something isn’t automatically stupid just because you don’t like it (and that’s something an adult shouldn’t have to be told).

          • yesterdayisawadeer says:

            >New Splinter Cell existing doesn’t remove the old ones from existence.
            It does however remove from existence the one that could have been. The transition of SC from stealth to action-stealth leaves one less stealth franchise. And they are freaking rare.
            Or are you suggesting that salamification of every other kind of foodstuff is good?

          • Boffin says:

            The one that could have been still exists as an idea, if someone really cared they could make that one too. Or someone could start a new stealth series about a guy dressed in black sneaking around bad guys. Just because a genre is winding down doesn’t mean it’s going to die out. Remember the “death” of adventure games? A dearth of games you want to play is annoying, but it’s not everyone else’s fault for not wanting to buy/develop/publish/play them.

            I’m suggesting that if someone wants to salamify every foodstuff they can find, and someone else is happy to pay for it – then it doesn’t really matter what my personal feelings are about salamification, it’s going to happen anyway.

          • yesterdayisawadeer says:

            I understand your argument. I guess I have no choice but to hope that I’m not alone in this sentiment and enough people refuse to buy this game to make developers realise their mistake.
            Still you can’t forbid me from meaninglessly whining on the Internet about superficial things which don’t affect my life in any major way and which I have virtually no control of.

          • Boffin says:

            I wouldn’t have it any other way. On the upside, I’d imagine a bunch of displaced stealth fans would be a pretty decent audience to aim for if the genre does die out. By not getting more of the same now, you might get some good new series in the future.

          • yesterdayisawadeer says:

            You, good sir, seem like an awfully pleasant fellow. Here, have a laugh, it’s on me.

            link to gifsound.com

          • Boffin says:

            I had to take a moment, but I’m touched. So likewise to you, sir!

    • kament says:

      As I remember, you’re DEFENDING A POINT only in “private estate” mission. And ONLY if you SCREWED UP earlier and TRIGGERED THE REINFORCEMENTS to come after you.

      There’s also a couple of times when you have to neutralize enemies in the area, but that is different. And there’s a train run, where it’s easier to M&E them, since there’s nowhere to hide anyway.

      But mostly it’s pure stealth, and it’s rewarding enough (esp. on higher difficulty) that you don’t need Charlie’s missions for money. I didn’t.

    • KenTWOu says:

      One of the earliest plot missions has you DEFENDING A POINT AGAINST WAVES OF ENEMIES

      That’s a lie. Plot missions don’t have such set pieces. Charlie’s missions have. But you can play stealthily non-lethally even against those waves.

      There is also an optional quest line which consists ENTIRELY OF KILL X BADDIES missions

      That’s a lie. You have to neutralize them without being detected. It means you can knockout them non-lethally.

      Plus the game basically forces you to use that idiotic gung-ho MARK & EXECUTE feature – a lingering issue from Conviction.

      That’s a lie. Finished the game on Perfectionist difficulty which doesn’t have M&E. There is ONLY ONE forced action sequence in single player campaign where M&E could be useful. Kament already mentioned it, it’s in the train. But you can beat this part without M&E.

      This is a continuation of that deplorable trait in modern stealth games – making them stealth-action.

      That’s true, but this game has the best balance between action and stealth.

  26. David Bliff says:

    This has been my first Splinter Cell game and I’ve been enjoying it quite a bit! Spies vs. Mercs is really hard (well, at least it is as the spies) but the co-op is really fun! It’s kind of sandboxy in that you’re given way too many toys to ever use in one playthrough, so you really can just have fun with different gadgets and challenge yourself to play a certain way, but it rarely feels like you’re being forced into doing something arbitrarily.

  27. Stardreamer says:

    See now, this is a real shame right here. Any other company had made this I’d be tracking this down as we speak. I love stealth games. I loved the Splinter Cell games right up until Ubisoft took their strange action-adventure turn with the franchise…and oh yes became the utter dicks to their PC customers that we all know and loathe (UbiShaft?).

    Interesting to see a positive review confounding the readership, though. Well played Mr Stanton. Well played.

  28. Joannes says:

    “Blacklist needs one rather obvious housekeeping notice: if you’re at all tempted by this, get it on Steam. I’ve been playing on uPlay and it’s a monster.”

    Is it at all possible to circumvent the medieval torture device that is Uplay? I bought Blacklist on Steam but the game insists on then installing and launching through Uplay anyway. And Uplay won’t install, leaving this game entirely unplayable.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I had a similar thing with Rayman: Lemons, which refused to run for a day or so. I don’t know if they ninja-patched it on Steam in the intervening time, but I tried a couple of things:
      – Installed uPlay from the Ubisoft website
      – Turned off User Account Control (UAC) – no idea if this helped or not but the Ubisoft steam support page suggested it, so…
      Restart after you’ve done both these things as some settings don’t take until then (turns out it’s still the 1990s! Who knew.)

      If this implementation is anything like Rayman’s, it shouldn’t be so bad once the effer is actually working – it flashes the uplay screen for a second, before uplay automatically launches the game. The only thing is that when you close the game you have to remember to close uplay too, in case you mind that steam has recorded you as playing Blacklist all day.

      • Joannes says:

        The problem is that I can’t even get Uplay to work. It installs just fine, but it locks up my computer every time I start it up. I’ve tried a bunch of tricks and workarounds found on the Steam and Ubisoft fora (including the one you just mentioned), but nothing seems to work. So now I have a game sitting on my hard drive that probably works just fine, but it’s been kneecapped by an unnecessary and ineffectual means of fighting piracy.

        • Gap Gen says:

          Ah, that sucks. You could at least ask Steam if they’ll give you a refund as the game doesn’t work.

  29. Josh W says:

    Hmm, very linkbatey starting italics.

  30. Megakoresh says:

    Worst, most insufferable shit of a game I have played this year. I sinserely regret spending wasting my money on this game.

    Everything, from overly political and controversial (how come we see RPS preach about boobs in games being bad, yet do not see them hint at a fact, that promoting and defending USA’s decision to station their troops in 153 countries around the world might not actually be “the good guy thing”, like the game is trying to suggest?) storyline, to abhorrently buggy and insufferable controls and optimization makes this game one hell of a shitpile.

    And while the storyline is a sign of dumb script and quite a bit of ignorance (i.e. might not really be “throwaway), the controls and the bugs are a result of them not only not testing the game’s quality of life aspects properly, but also failing to understand the basic principles of control methods: KEYBOARDS HAVE MORE THAN 12 BUTTONS!

    As a fan of the series, who played all SC games from the first one (and also the mobile games too), I do not remember a SINGLE time when I was detected because *I* made a mistake. I was detected around 30 times through the campaign/side missions (excluding those we did in coop), and ALL of those times it was because the game decided “Yo, you press Shift? Climb the wall! Yo, you press Q to take cover? Nope. Climb out of the window!”. EVERY. FUCKING. TIME.

    Can you imagine the frustration when this is happening in MP? When I am playing as a spy and instead of chasing a merc I am aiming at, the character decides TO CLIMB SOME RANDOM FUCKING WALL!

    Then there are checkpoints. Now I am good with CS games, as well as stealth games in general, I have a good screen and played those a lot. So i don’t die as much. BUT. And this is a big “but”. This game has maximum 4-5 checkpoints for an entire mission, which will last you anywhere between 20 minutes to 1.5 hours! Furthermore the checkpoints are places AWFULLY. They are placed in front of some big area, where the beginning is ALWAYS the same and very easy, then there is lots of moving around to get to good positions, which takes a crapload of time and is not interesting at all, and THEN there is the tricky bit, which you are trying to go through, which takes maybe 1-2 minutes to do or to fail.

    And if you do fail, the be prepared to loose 5-20 minutes of gameplay, of which you will be doing the EXACT SAME fucking thing over and over again, expecting shit to change, but it won’t. WON’T. That. Is. Crazy. And then you get to tricky bit and probably die again. And will need to do the 18 minute long routine gameplay section again, the same fucking way.

    Then there are bugs. And oh boy is the MP ripe with them! In addition to not having dedicated servers, which means all 8 people (and Tripods) are playing off a single host, who might not actually have the best connection (and you can’t quit match mid-game to swap host other than Alt+F4), the MP has bugs all over the screen! Do you like phantom animations of cutting air with your knife and dying together with your target? We got a game for you. Do you fancy throwing your grenade inside windows (according to the projected trajectory), and it bouncing back in your face? Got you covered. Do you like FPS drops from 70 to 5 for no apparent reason and playing like that till you restart the game? Look no further!

    Everything. Everything good this game has, which includes innovative MP modes, good level design, fantastic customization, good fun toys and Adam Jensen in a role of a Black Market dealer, ALL of it fade away and dissolve in that big, stinky, gooey bowl of shit, comprised of abhorrent controls, terrible storyline, shitty optimization, tons of bugs and some of the worst checkpointing I’ve ever seen.

    This game. Is. Awful. I have no fucking idea what the hell was Mr. Stanton smoking when he wrote this review. And what he says is true (aside from storyline) for the most part. It’s just not the whole truth. The whole truth is what I wrote above. Now it will never be seen, unfortunately, but for those who do see this: have a read, if you haven’t wasted your money already, and think: if the good of this game actually worth the suffering?

    • KenTWOu says:

      I was detected around 30 times through the campaign/side missions (excluding those we did in coop), and ALL of those times it was because the game decided “Yo, you press Shift? Climb the wall! Yo, you press Q to take cover? Nope. Climb out of the window!”. EVERY. FUCKING. TIME.

      Only this fix will help you.