More Reviews
REVIEWS Far Cry 4 Review
The open world of Far Cry 4 is wondrous, but is the beauty of Kyrat only skin-deep?

World of Warcraft: Warlords of D Review
Does Blizzard's latest expansion breathe new life into the 10 year-old franchise, or is this MMO finally starting to show its age?
More Previews
PREVIEWS Silence: The Whispered World II Preview
With its absolutely gorgeous sequel, Daedalic aims to create a mid-range difficulty adventure title that will expand the genre to a larger audiences.
Release Dates
NEW RELEASES ESCAPE Dead Island
Release date: Out Now

Far Cry 4
Release date: Out Now

Dragon Age: Inquisition
Release date: Out Now

Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix
Release date: 12/02/14


LATEST FEATURES With Two Paths to Walk This Fall, I Recommend Assassins Play AC Unity Over AC Rogue
For fans of this series, it'll be a decision based on hardware. For enthusiasts, returning to the brand's roots will prove enticing.

Nintendo Download November 2014 - Updating Each Week
If you've got credit on Nintendo's digital eShop service or expect to receive a gift card this holiday season, start making your list with our weekly updates.
MOST POPULAR FEATURES Xbox Downloads October 2014 - Updating Each Week
Microsoft's Xbox One console continues an Xbox Live revolution started over a decade ago. Here's hoping Summer of Arcade makes it to the platform next year.

LEADERBOARD
Read More Member Blogs
FEATURED VOXPOP Master_Craig
Welcome Home - PAX AUS 2014
By Master_Craig
Posted on 11/18/14
Last night I returned home from PAX AUS 2014. Long story short, it wasn't perfect, but it was quite possibly the best weekend I've had this year. It was a lot of fun. If you'd like to continue reading, the long story is just below. Buckle up. This is gonna be...

DAILY MANIFESTO

Losing Michael Ironside As Sam Fisher Doesn't Hurt Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Posted on Monday, August 19 @ 12:36:51 Eastern by

I've been playing Splinter Cell: Blacklist all weekend (and our review will be up some time tomorrow to coincide with the game's release) but one thing I thought would have bothered me hasn't had any real effect. Blacklist is the first Splinter Cell game to release without the vocal stylings of Michael Ironside in the lead role, but it turns out you don't need the gravely-voiced actor to make an excellent Splinter Cell game. In fact, I'd say Sam Fisher's loss is the player's gain in the philosophy behind ditching Ironside.

Speaking of the change prior to release, Creative Director Maxime Béland told reporters that Ironside was dismissed because of the arduous process it took to completely design Sam Fisher. Ubisoft had to record Ironside's voice, then capture a physical actor who could pull off all of Fisher's stealthy and acrobatic moves, and then go one step beyond to capture another actor's facial performance in delivering each line. To do away with all this, Ubisoft decided to go with Eric Johnson, a singular actor who could do everything the studio needed to build Sam Fisher as an interactive character.

The difference between Blacklist and the last Splinter Cell game, Conviction, is palpable. Yes, the voice isn't the same, but I'll trade this one series staple for the dogged attention to gameplay on hand in Ubisoft's latest. While it might sound like Ironside became an unfortunate casualty over the course of development, the rest of Blacklist benefits from returning Sam Fisher to his roots as a globe-trotting super spy.

Instead of chasing and interrogating leads himself, Sam and company launch missions from their mobile headquarters. Players are dropped into an open level with branching pathways, intelligent guards, and tons of options at their disposal. Conviction felt more constrained and therefore less focused on player agency, but Blacklist feels totally focused on presenting players with the tools they need and just enough challenge to keep every moment tense and dangerous.

Ghost, Panther, and Assault play styles filter gameplay into three distinct styles. Slow, non-lethal Ghost play requires patience and all the right gadgets. Panther style play is fast, vicious and still undetected from moment to moment. Assault, of course, lends itself to explosives and tons of firefights, but all in all these three pillars represent everything you could ask for from a Splinter Cell game.

Yes, a story driven by terrorists with a globe-trotting agenda plays pretty heavily into Ubisoft Toronto's desire to provide level and mission variety, but it also does away with messy and constrictive story elements that would otherwise hamper developer creativity, not unlike the decision to ditch Ironside's voice. We'll have more in our full review of Splinter Cell: Blacklist, but players should know that losing Ironside, and generally cutting fat where necessary, has allowed Ubisoft Toronto to largely reinvent the Splinter Cell wheel.

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER. YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO.


comments powered by Disqus