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Splinter Cell: Blacklist


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I replayed the original trilogy a couple of years ago and was surprised how well they played. The original is quite unforgiving, but Pandoras Tomorrow and Chaos Theory are amazing.

Blacklist is actually better than I expected, though. I'm playing it now and after the abomination that was Conviction, it's pretty great. It has a few gung ho moments, but overall plays pretty similarly to the originals.

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I've been playing this for the last couple of nights, and needless to say I'm loving it. The levels are really well designed so far - there are tonnes of routes and hidden nooks.

As with all stealth games, I'm trying to play - in Stroker Ace's words - "fo' reals". Just go with whatever happens without restarting the checkpoint. The game is optimised around you being busted and evading even though it's perfectly possible to ghost the whole thing. Luckily Sam crumples like - well, a human being - under a hail of gunfire, so trying to escape and return fire is a fraught affair. Like Conviction, the levels and AI accommodate everything from silent infiltration to cover shooter excellently meaning you can play the same segment in a variety of ways and get a totally difference experience.

I know it rubs some people up the wrong way, but I really like a good XP/upgrade system as well. It's lets you tailor the game to your preference and ignore upgrades that dilute the experience. So for me, I'm spending my dosh on making powerful pistols and stealthy clothes but leaving stuff that makes Sam into bullet sponge or gives him too much x-ray vision.

I'm playing on "Realistic" (Hard) and it feels just right - perhaps a tad on the easy side. That said, I've died a LOT, but after The Last Of Us I feel a bit like that's due to me mucking about rather than really concentrating on survival. TLOU was amazingly well balanced and give you just what you needed to scrape through using all your wits. This gives you loads of toys, which encourages overconfidence.

The enemies are just right in terms of alertness, but Mark & Execute is still too powerful. It should be more like Max Payne's bullet time - perhaps the camera could "snap" to your marked targets in sequence but at least let the player aim and pull the trigger.

I can see myself going back through the levels several times trying for the different style awards and seeing how I do on Perfectionist difficulty. That sounds like a really good challenge. All the different scoring systems and stats certainly give good reason for going back.

All this is coming from someone who really enjoyed the better levels of Conviction, by the way.

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Couldn't agree more.

I noticed you'd set some Perfectionist scores, Hitch. How is it on that difficulty? Sounds pretty fun - no temptation to use M&E and no seeing-through walls on the goggles. Bit put out by the inability to restock at supply crates, but then I suppose you can take your upgraded larger pockets when you retry on higher difficulty? I guess also it would encourage more use of all the different gadgets.

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This game really comes alive when you're being hunted. I spent two hours trying the first of Kobin's side-mission maps on 'Perfectionist' last night. Now, these missions are billed at "survive successive waves of enemies" which sounds like some crappy shoehorned-in Horde mode to further dumb the franchise down, but all it really means is that a set amount of guards enter this big, open sandbox playing area and its up to you to take them out however you please. They're more like the Arkham stealth rooms.

The brilliant thing with this mode is that the enemies are already in hunting mode. They don't follow any pre-set paths or even enter the area from pre-set places, so every attempt feels fresh.

Also, Perfectionist difficulty isn't some tacked-on super-annoyingly hard mode "for hardcore fans of the earlier games". In fact, it feels like the proper way to play. Enemies have believable awareness - you can't just hang from a pipe and assume they'll never find you. Each one is roughly equivalent to you, the player, except of course you have all the gadgets and stealth moves. Also, you lose the crutch of Mark and Execute, which ratchets up the tension (you can still mark three enemies, however, just not auto-kill them).

I just ditched all the non-lethal stuff and focused on surviving using whatever means possible. You can tear through a couple guards pretty fluidly using hand-to-hand combat, which feels really great. Escaping and leaping about to stay hidden is similarly smooth and responsive. When you're forced to resort to guns, they feel superb too - loud, brutal and with lots of kick. Enemies react well to them and crumple satisfyingly. If you get into a full on shoot-out the pretty much descend on you immediately, so the key is to take out anyone in your way and get the fuck away from your last known position. If not, a couple of rounds will take you down and you will no way have time to recover without finding a hiding spot.

In summary, this game is amazing.

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I bought this on release and thought it was one of the best Splinter Cell games in the series. Yes, it can be considerably easier compared the earlier games but only if you make it so. On my first play though I decided to go for ghosting each level, I put it straight on perfectionist difficulty and, most importantly, did not upgrade the plane in anyway that made the game easier I.e. no radar etc. When you do this than it really creates a tough tense stealth experience that captures the essence of the first few games.

What I really love about the game, and what adds so much replayabillity, is having your performance scored, plus being categorised into three play styles to encourage you to play multiple times in different ways.

I recommend this to any Splinter Cell fan, and that's not something I have been able to say in years.

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A small warning for all the newcomers, the first level or so can feel a little linear and restrictive, but it soon opens up and gives you plenty of freedom.

The ghost and panther side missions are incredibly good if you need a break from the main campaign.

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A small warning for all the newcomers, the first level or so can feel a little linear and restrictive, but it soon opens up and gives you plenty of freedom.

The ghost and panther side missions are incredibly good if you need a break from the main campaign.

Seriously, the Charlie ones ("siege") are amazing too. Well, the first one is. I've not beaten it yet. It's just a brilliant stealth playground.

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Seriously, the Charlie ones ("siege") are amazing too. Well, the first one is. I've not beaten it yet. It's just a brilliant stealth playground.

Yeah sorry I wasn't trying to say they are bad while the others are good, I just never really tried them.

My friend has been begging me to get back on this so maybe we'll give them a go in co-op :ph34r:

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Started playing this last night. Very solid stealth game. One thing I'm puzzled over is how rough it looks at times. A quick Google suggests it's running on Unreal 2.5. Definitely nowhere near as nice looking as other Unreal 3 titles (Bioshock Infinite, Batman).

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I tried the first Grim side mission last night - those are the ones where it's insta-fail if the alarm gets raised. I don't usually like those missions because they're too much like the crappy first game. But I actually managed to do it first on my first attempt on Perfectionist, and it was ultra tense. I love those bits where you're forced to take someone out, then you have to rush the other nearby guard to take him out too before he realises what's afoot. The controls and tools really enable that kind of under-pressure recovery of the situation.

One of the objectives was surrounded by a network of laser tripwires and I spent ages watching the timing, deciding it was impossible, then realising I could just shoot the control panel on the wall to knock them out :facepalm: . When I finished the mission it told me I'd left 14 hostiles undisturbed, which I was amazed to discover because I thought I'd explored pretty well. It just goes to show how open the levels are.

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So is Perfectionist difficult recommended for an old (and slightly rusty) Splinter Cell veteran, who's about to dust off his night vision goggles and dive back into this?

I started on Realistic, but have bumped it up to Perfectionist now. Perfectionist seems pretty well balanced to me, thought it might be a bit brutal diving straight in. I've also turned off the radar (you can just avoid purchasing the radar upgrade if you like).

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Started playing this last night. Very solid stealth game. One thing I'm puzzled over is how rough it looks at times. A quick Google suggests it's running on Unreal 2.5. Definitely nowhere near as nice looking as other Unreal 3 titles (Bioshock Infinite, Batman).

Some of the later levels look pretty damn sexy.

Second run-through and still finding new ways to approach and attack. Pulling off the perfect mark and execute assault still feels spectacular.

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