‘Splinter Cell: Blacklist’ Combat Style is Up To The Player

Jun 21, 2012 by  

Splinter Cell Blacklist Combat Choices

It’s hard to say why there are only a handful of gaming franchises known for competent stealth gameplay, but it didn’t take long for Splinter Cell to become synonymous with striking from the shadows. That approach has been given a serious overhaul in recent years, most notably in the announcement of Splinter Cell: Blacklist at this year’s E3.

Director Patrick Redding maintains that Ubisoft Toronto has put together an experience far more in keeping with Sam Fisher’s stealth roots than the initial trailer might imply. In fact, a larger emphasis is being placed on a player’s chosen play style, from level design all the way to cinematic cut-scenes.

Redding had previously discussed the studio’s decision to showcase Blaclist‘s daytime, action-packed gameplay in order to make more of a statement at E3 2012, and taking the demo as an indication of the entire game was premature. The amount of discussion that the game’s showing has generated shows they made the right call.

The full interview from VG24/7 gives a bit more insight into Ubisoft’s method of bringing stealth and action together in one new campaign, with handing the choice to the player being toted as one of the ways to keep evasive or stealthy gamers happy.

The heavy emphasis on action witnessed at E3 was a result of the extremely refined gameplay section, according to Redding. Sam Fisher’s trigger finger was overworked in the demo, but that is by no means the only way to play the game from start to finish:

“When we hand the controller to someone else they can elect to try to avoid those conflicts, and if they’re good they can succeed at it. As with any Splinter Cell game there is a challenge in being stealthy and undetected, and there are advantages to being stealthy and undetected, and it’s certainly a valid option that’s available to the player. And we give them tools to do it if that’s the way they want to do it.”

Splinter Cell Blacklist Stealth Combat Balance

Walking a line between making the player feel capable of handling every situation and demanding they avoid detection has never been easy. In fact, the Splinter Cell series almost encapsulates the entire struggle, from the insta-fails of the original games to the ability to mark-and-execute one’s way through Conviction.

With Ubisoft Toronto promising a blend of both, some stealth fans may not be so easily convinced after similar claims were made in the past. It may simply be that a developer hoping to earn more than niche sales just can’t release a game that rewards only those who agonize over going completely undetected.

Redding explained that the “blueprint” for the game’s level design and narrative is centered around trying to offer satisfying experiences to both camps:

“We went out of our way to make sure that there were missions that put the emphasis on stealth and then there were other missions that put the emphasis on combat, but that it was never 100% one or the other. There might be occasional moments in the game where you need to go undetected, but we didn’t want to create a lot of situations where it was like an ‘instant fail’ if you got detected.”

Keeping the experience moving forward whether detected or not may or may not solve the problem, but this integration of each player’s decisions into the overall game will be extending beyond remaining in cover or opening fire. We saw firsthand in our preview of Blacklist that players will be able to deal with informants in different ways. Apparently Sam’s behavior won’t just change the end of the attached cut-scenes, but carry over to his interactions with the other members of Fourth Echelon who may approve or disapprove of his decisions.

Hints are all the developers seem happy to give at the moment, but fans of stealth are expected to be addressed as the game gets closer to release.

How do you Fisher-fans and newcomers feel about the balance being struck by those making Blacklist? Think the blend is the best solution, or not what you had hoped? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist is tentatively scheduled for a release in early 2013 for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

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Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: VG24/7

15 Comments

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  1. I think they’re blowing smoke. No way it has the same stealth or style of the previous games. I don’t think anything is wrong with the new style, it’s nice to feel like a soldier/assassin. Combat was clunky and damn near impossible if spotted in the previous games. Sam Fisher should be able to eliminate enemies quickly and efficiently whether spotted or not. It’s nice to see Sam at his full potential though, being the assassin we all knew he was.

  2. I’m gonna admit, I really miss how we could control his speed by just the roll of the mouse wheel..I felt like I had more control over him like that..now it’s mostly a matter of did you press the crouch/sprint button at the right time or you pressed it while camera is at a weird angle and Fisher does something completely different…which made me fail many times in Conviction. I felt much more control in previous SC games is all I’m saying..

  3. imo this will be just like hitman absolution when it comes to combat and stealth – neither will be greatly in depth but will allow players to approach missions however they feel like.

    besides gameplay, the visuals looks very nice and fluent, the game doesn’t appear to be to over the top in terms of blood and the tech isn’t entirely stupid *cough* black ops *cough*. looking forward to this, plus there aren’t a whole lot of stealth games out there that allow for varied play styles (at least non that i am aware of).

    • Jeez, of course the tech isn’t like Black Ops 2, this isn’t set in the year 2025. And you do know the tech from BO2 is based off of real ideas and prototypes, not just the developers imagination?

      Besides, tons of games have drawn up futuristic designs for the tech, why is BO2 any different? (I’d love to hear this) Where are your shots at Ghost Recon? Metal Gear Solid? Dishonored? Deus Ex? Otherwise you’re just a troll.

      This isn’t a COD thread, so keep that bias to a minimum

      • BO2 is trying to be modern and sci-fi at the same time, otherwise there would be more energy based guns (going off of what they said mind you) and there wouldn’t be everyday vehicles and the such. ghost recon isn’t set 20 years from now, plus the tech in that actually exist. last i was aware of humans couldn’t hijack random vehicles and use them against the user.

        the comparison discussion has risen from a similarity between the 2 games – one is modern with sci-fi elements and the other is trying to follow suit. you’re only wetting your pants b/c i’m poking fun of your beloved franchise that has failed to make it’s own mark in the industry instead of following in other games shadows :P

        • Modern and sci-fi at the same time is being grounded in reality. Haven’t seen anything over the top in BO2. Future Soldier takes place in 2024, one year before BO2. Last I checked I don’t believe those advanced drones existed or shoulder missile launchers but these games are a work of fiction, some things can slide. Last you checked humans couldn’t remotely hijack? Have you seen the Watch Dogs trailer? You have no complaints there? You do know things are being digitalized and tons of electronics are controlled remotely? Seeing as how drones are operated by computers. Plus, you can’t time travel so no point in arguing that. Unless you’re referring to the Strike Force which wasn’t hacking, just the player having the ability to control multiple characters. We have no idea what 2024-2025 will be like, both games have plausible ideas.

          BO2 is trying to follow suit? Whether it be WW2, modern day, or a future setting, if they exist within the same decade, there will be similarities. And how do you know Treyarch hasn’t been planning this for a while? So I guess military shooters are copying BF for moving to the future? Of course not, and it’s idiotic to think so. Then you resort to childish tactics lol I like COD but wouldn’t call it “beloved”. And I do not respect your opinion of it because it is biased. That was weak.

          • What do you mean nothing in BO2 is over the top?! I’m not going to go into over the top action, because that is in most games, but over the top tech? Right, in 15 years we will have fully autonomous super robots. That tech simply will not be developed that perfectly in that amount of time. And we don’t have a problem with Watch Dogs because it does not claim to be realistic. It says the scenario of all encompassing technology is realistic (which it is), but nowhere do you get the idea that the developer is saying that the tech the protagonist uses is real. and on the note of Future Soldier, and any other game with advanced tech, calling much of the technology “prototypes” is generous. There is not serious development in those areas, and the prototypes they have are hardly in working condition, let alone field conditions. Liquid Bulletproof, as seen on Future Weapons? Took the scientists 7 attempts before the camera men got a proper demonstration of the tech. Game developers see something on TV, look up some basic specs on it, and throw it 10 years into the future claiming it will be field ready by then. Active Camo in FS? Field ready by 2040 at the earliest, at the current rate of development. Now, if the government were to fully support these programs, and give them all the funding they wanted, then yes, there is the possibility they could be in field testing stages by 2025. But not as well defined or in as large number as they are portrayed as being. Games are games, and should not be labeled as realistic unless they truly are.

          • @Yodarlz

            The quadrotor? A fake? That is real. Drones? Those exist, not as advanced as they’ll be in 2025 but again, this is fiction. Did you miss this: “We have no idea what 2024-2025 will be like, both games have plausible ideas”

            “these games are a work of fiction, some things can slide”

            Guess you missed that part too. Over-the-top would be “I, Robot” styled robots or “Star Trek” warping. When I mentioned Watch Dogs, I was referring to the remote hacking. COD is realistic, Watch Dogs is realistic, Battlefield is realistic, Mass Effect is NOT realistic, Star Wars is NOT realistic. Maybe this’ll help.

            Realistic definition: interested in, concerned with, or ***BASED ON*** WHAT IS REAL OR PRACTICAL

            The camo? We all know it is in development, so why can’t it be in the game as something deployed in the field in the near future?

            My whole argument with Jwalka, and now you, was that why bash COD and not Ghost Recon? Or Metal Gear Solid (which was closer to the present and had the metal gear, gekkos, and much more)? Because he has a bias.

            I don’t know wtf type of camo will be used in 2025 or what the drones will be like. All of this stuff is in development, so for fun they put it in the game. If you hate the game then hate it but don’t come with baseless arguments when other games are just as bad.

    • “the game doesn’t appear to be to over the top in terms of blood and the tech isn’t entirely stupid *cough* black ops *cough*”

      I misread this, you should’ve corrected me. You said the blood isn’t over the top, not the tech. All you said was that the tech is stupid, my mistake. If you think future warfare or weapons that’ll be used decades from now is “stupid”, that is your opinion and I have no right to argue it.

  4. I think that they have transitioned from where action fans were being encouraged to play a stealth game to where stealth fans are being encouraged to play an action game. I like both genres, but I really wish that stealth was the priority here, and action was the fun alternative to the core gameplay style. I miss the old mechanics, the goggles (which appear to be back, thankfully), the fiber optic cables, the light meter of old with more than a single, streamlined gradation, etc. The watering down of the original magic is what bothers me, not the option of using aggressive tactics and loud weapons. I hope they find a Bert balance than before becaus it barely feels like SC to me those days, regardless of the quality and fun to be had. Every big game is getting increasingly similar and it is both frustrating and creepy. I love these new games, but I don’t like them replacing the old styles left and right with dumbed down blockbuster thrill rides.

    • the reason games are becoming more and more streamlined is b/c of the current fads in the market, people are scared to make a game challenging or innovative b/c they’re scared they wont make any money, hence why everything is so damn linear and boring nowadays :(
      i hope they include a difficulty level that makes things alot harder, like that difficulty in the new hitman where you have no UI, no sensor thing (the thing with fire on the ground) and you have to completely rely on your instincts to complete levels.

      • Right you are, jwalka! Unlike other fads like zombies though, I think mainstream oriented, streamlined blockbusters are not going to go the way of the bell bottom anytime soon. Sad. As for difficulty levels and such, I love the UI options idea, and wish more games would do that, but it should be separate from the difficulty level in my opinion. Challenge needs to be carefully and intelligently crafted, not the slapdash double-everybody’s-hit-points junk that some developers pull. I often try to create restrictions to enhance challenge, like “no medpacks allowed”, or wear the coolest LOOKING arMor, not the BEST armor, etc. This has the advantage that if the game gets annoying you can change your rules to adapt. I’m gonna put a page about this on my blog site soon. (gamehermits.Wordpress.com). Fingers crossed for the ever-younger Sam Fisher and his dubious future…

        • yeah, alot of us older gamers have to resolve to such measures in order to even have fun sometimes, that’s how bad games are becoming :(

          i miss how in rainbow six 3 if you reloaded with half clip you would loose all bullets remaining in the clip, it added a sense of realism and tension b/c every bullet literally counted. games have strayed to far away from realism (besides visually of course) and it’s very hard for us higher intellectual gamers to find a nice medium between cinematic and intellectual games.

          one can only hope that as we advance in technology developers grow a pair and try to implement some new and realistic features into their games to see how it all works out, who knows intellectual games might make a rise again ;)

          as for fisher, i’m sure the game will be fine, ubisoft has a way of making their games accessible to everyone regardless of how they want to play so i have faith in them :)

          • I bet it will be fun, but the last two SC games drifted so far from the formula that I doubt it will be a return to form. I do expect quality, but also a twinge of disappointment. The goggles gave my hopes up a little though… Wouldn’t it be cool to use smart glass or wii u as the screen for fiber optic cables and heat vision stuff? I think so.

  5. go medal of warfighter, just saying cuz its like the best from COD and BF mixed togeher in there own formula. Plus danger close had way more ppl woking on this one :) just saying.. COD is cool and all but MOH will eventually reurn to the top of FPS market. Guarenteed! lol

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