Friday, September 20, 2013

Stealth fun: Splinter Cell Blacklist review

FPS Action games are my favorite genre to play on Xbox 360, however after I had played Splinter Cell Conviction in 2010. I was waiting for the next title to arrive in this series. Stealth based action games come as a good break from Call of Duty and Battlefield series.

Not delving into the plot much, Sam Fisher is on a mission to stop a group of rebels called “Engineers” waiting to unleash a series of terror attacks on America, unless US government calls back all American troops deployed abroad. He is accompanied by Anna Grímsdóttir (Grim), Charlie and Isaac Briggs in a quest to stop them and uncover the mastermind behind these attacks.

Visually game looks good, in some missions its top notch in terms of environment detailing and it is complimented by apt background score to suit the mood of a stealth game. I had recently completed playing Ghost Recon Future Soldier, so a lot of visual representation in SC: Blacklist felt similar to GR: Future Soldier. However visuals do look buggy in some missions where a (Non Playable Character) NPC would partially appear to pass through a wall while searching for Sam Fisher or NPC movement freezes at times in certain frames. In one closing scene of a co-op mission Isaac Briggs just stuck on screen in a close up pose as he hooks to a plane while escaping.

Transition from cut scenes to game play is smooth, not heavy on load time between missions.  Game play style includes three modes Ghost, Panther and Assault. It is difficult to avoid stalking enemies and take them down silently so I am really bad at leaving them undisturbed. Exploring secret paths during missions would also reward you extra points. You are eligible for Suit, Weapon, Gadget upgrades as you go along completing missions, you can also upgrade “Paladin” which is your flying headquarter from cash accumulated.

I really loved the Co-Op side missions which are fun to play with your friends or anyone online. Some Co-Op missions can be played solo while some are online Co-Op compulsory, two of such co-op missions are based in India. On a lighter note you should hear out Hindi street talk dialogues used in Bangalore missile plant co-op mission, an attempt to make cursing sound cool as they do with English scripts but it is really hilarious.

You can customize Sam Fisher’s gear before the start of every mission in the game and after some upgrades you can do it while playing the mission in certain areas where one can restock ammo and also change weapons and gadgets on the fly. Game play is great for stealth mode however you have to be very quick if you choose to go aggressive and on assault mode chances of falling to enemy gunfire in a short span is very high, you also cannot hide at one place after you have being spotted as NPC’s would spread out in all locations looking for you. This is when you can start dropping on to ledges, hiding outside windows, climbing walls etc. to avoid being detected further.

Firing from non silenced weapons would also reveal your last known position to enemy, keeping you constantly on the move. I have replayed some missions just to go undetected completely and gather maximum points on silent take down which is really addictive. You feel like bettering your own score. Checkpoint save options are a little pain in this game, in certain missions they are okay but if you manage to pass an area within a mission undetected by enemy soldiers and fall in the next zone, you may have to start that section all over again.

I have tried playing Spies Vs Merc multiplayer mode, feel like a complete noob here because I have never tried such genre before which requires you to hack a terminal and let the hack get completed without you getting killed, also defend team members initiating hack on various terminals OR be the predator hunting down Spies waiting to hack through, still on a learning curve and spawning too regularly.

It’s going to be a busy winter season this year with GTA V out now, Watch Dogs, Batman Arkham Origins yet to arrive and the regular blockbusters like Call of Duty Ghosts and Battlefield 4 also lined up. Splinter Cell Blacklist is just the perfect game to end your summer delight.I rate this game 8/10, only cons I could relate to is with some evident bugs encountered during game play and linear approach followed in imposing specific game play style for some missions curbing your choice to some extent.

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