The optical neon-green glow of Sam Fisher returns in Blacklisted. Paying homage to its roots, the next installment of Splinter Cell has finally arrived.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist sees the original king-of-sneak, Sam Fisher, returning to his old ways while keeping the new “action” focused direction of ‘Conviction’ in check. This should be welcoming to all those who appreciate both approaches within the Splinter Cell brand. One half stealth creeper, and the other quick bag-and-tag; Blacklist has a fine line to balance. Handled with stride, the newly opened Ubisoft studio in Toronto, Canada did an excellent job weighing the scales.

Back to Basics
The narrative in the latest Splinter Cell adventure slides back into more familiar “Tom Clancy” territory, instead of Conviction’s emotionally driven journey. While this takes the “real”, or rather "human side" out of Sam’s character, it is still another aspect of the man who excels at getting the job done. Trailing the events in Conviction, Fisher is back on the job of stopping terrorists as commander of the newly formed 'Fourth Echelon'. True, the “international terrorist” layer might not be a surprising twist, but don’t count Ubisoft out. There are a several plot-points that pushing the series forward that ended up making this adventure just as engaging.


Commands from way above
The structure of Blacklist has also been adjusted from the prior games with the Fourth Echelon operating out a flying tactical plane called the Paladin. I found this HUB like progression to be a perfect fit for the mission layout of Sam’s world. Not only is the Paladin a new element in the game, but upgradeable and beneficial to the outcome of the missions. Need a HUD for Fisher to track his foes better, simply upgrade the cockpit in the plane. This also goes into more detail within your own personal load-out, where can customize the minor details of Sams’ gear to fit your play style. It’s the small touches and this extra dose of customization that make Splinter Cell more of a personable experience and an overall better game.

Eye of the Panther
A scoring system has also been interwoven into Blacklist that gives you a break-down of how you tackled each mission, or rather, an optional suggestion to your own play style. Broken down into three groupings - Panther (stalk and kill), Ghost (pure stealth avoid and non-lethal), Assault (all out combat) - you will see how capable Blacklist is at dynamic flow. Although counted, you don’t need to concern yourself with each “category”, rather just play. However, if you want to be that shadow operative, the pure stealth (aka Ghost) approach still seems to be the most rewarding and closest to a true Splinter Cell experience.

Killing in Motion
Aside from those adjustments and an upgrade to the “Mark & Execute” feature – now called “Killing in Motion” which allows you to quick-kill while on the run, Blacklist plays like you would expect. There is a lot of time to be invested here with multiple missions (co-op or solo), along with difficulties and achievements to strive for. For each player, you’ll resort to your normal strategies while experimenting with some new ones. The only concern I felt when compared to the older editions is that lack of emphasis on gadgets. Whereas ‘Chaos Theory’ made you think more about your gear and approach, Blacklist is more instinctual.


Spies, Mercs, or Both
After stepping away from solo-play, Blacklist has a rich and surprisingly popular online component. The highlight here is anticipated return of the classic “Spies vs. Merc” mode. “Spies” has also been improved making the player count higher, along with a mode where you can combine both Spies and Mercenaries on a single team. This makes for some interesting encounters online. The dynamics this mode, especially because of the different viewpoints (3rd and 1st person) is a unique experience that you can only find in Splinter Cell, and worth checking of for online centric gamers.

A New Ironside
Lastly the production in Blacklist is top-notch with the majority of the praise going to the level design. Blacklist might not be as varied as some of the more memorable selections from the past, but it does a great job at keeping things interesting. Even the replacement of longtime actor Michael Ironside seems to flow just as good with Eric Johnson stepping up to the plate. While he might not be the exact growl that Ironside commanded, he is a great fit. The only negatives come with an optional HD texture pack (that you’ll probably want to install) that seems to take forever to install.


Perfectly crafted to be the game you want it to be, Splinter Cell: Blacklist is one of the finest Splinter Cell adventures to date. While it might not be exact stealth experience it was in the early years, it’s adaption into a hybrid action-stealth game is top notch. Fisher, you’re aging well.

  • Dynamically flowing level and mission design.
  • Blacklist can be experienced how you want; stealth, action or a little in-between.
  • Great scoring system.
  • Customizable options are a great touch.
  • Lots of way to love; solo, co-op, or online MP
  • HUB style mission structure might not suit some.
  • Gadgets have taken a back seat.
  • Multiplayer matches are designed for long sittings.
  • Optional HD textures have to be installed.
Quote: "Perfectly crafted to be the game you want it to be, Splinter Cell: Blacklist is one of the finest Splinter Cell adventures to date."
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 08.30.13 | Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360

Similar Games: SC: Conviction (7.8) | SC: Double Agent (8.5) | SC: Chaos Theory (9.5)


Tom Clancy's
Splinter Cell


Ubisoft Toronto

Stealth Action

US Release
August '13


X360, PS3, Wii U

Players 1
Co-op 2
Online MP 2-8
5.1 Surround
HD 720-1080p
D/L Content
Kinect Optional