The darkness has always been a good friend to Sam Fisher.
In his early days at Third Echelon, the iconic Splinter Cell protagonist was synonymous with his matte black stealth suit, dotted only by the green of night vision goggles, and could sneak through entire missions in the shadows without alerting a single soul (though enemy guards likely realized something was amiss after waking up bloodied in a dumpster). Developer Ubisoft has often gone to great lengths, even amid the lush Indonesian jungles of Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow and frenetic action of Conviction, to ensure that Sam was placed comfortably within his nocturnal habitat.
Watching the latest trailer for Splinter Cell: Blacklist, however, it’s easy to get the inkling that daylight comprises more than just a change-of-pace mission in series’ sixth installment.
We see Sam, back in his tactical suit, infiltrating an enemy territory by clinging to the underside of a truck. The sun is setting – but it has at least an hour or so to go before his night vision goggles will be of any use. And yet, Sam doesn’t miss a beat. Subduing at least one unsuspecting enemy on a rooftop, he unfurls a maneuverable mini-camera gadget to spot the group on the floor below. The next part of the encounter is teased as he rappels down the building’s side, pulling the pin on a guard’s grenade and tossing him down over the car on the street below. Whether it’s the explosion or the fall that kills him is unclear – the timing is perfect.
Blacklist was revealed to the world at E3 2012 with a reveal trailer and lengthy gameplay demo (seen below), both of which showed Sam stabbing and shooting his way through a remote mountainside camp near the Iran-Iraq border. One thing evident in the gameplay – which also took place in broad daylight – is how Sam’s brand of “stealth” seems centered more on speed and creativity than silence and shadows. The familiar moments of patient creeping are still there – luring enemies with Kinect voice functionality shows promise – but Sam no longer feels outmatched when up against a mounted .50 caliber machine gun and enclosing AK-47 wielding combatants, either.
Coming off of Conviction and its heavy use of monochrone (a stylistic choice many critics and gamers disagreed with), it’s quite possible daylight is part of Ubisoft Toronto’s effort to, once again, repaint Sam and the vibe of the series. The gadgets (helicopter grappling hooks?) and Sam’s deadly targeting abilities don’t look to offer a reprieve from Conviction’s deadly force seminars, and a key focus for Blacklist will be how the game courts both the stealth- and action-oriented crowds.
Ranters, what direction do you think Splinter Cell: Blacklist plans to take Sam Fisher and its terrorist-threat storyline? Should the series go back to its old-fashioned roots after departures in Double Agent and Conviction?
Splinter Cell: Blacklist in the Spring of 2013 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
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