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Splinter Cell: Blacklist


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Sounds pretty great. I like the customisation idea so you can tailor Sam to your preferred play style, and the focus on fluidity is nice. If they can build up the complexity from the oversimplified Conviction and focus on making a whole set of decent, wide levels (rather than just a handful), I'm well up for this.

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  • 2 months later...

Fingers crossed Spies vs Mercs will be good, the last time we had this mode was on xbox and PS2 so I am hopeing they have kept the same core experience but used all the advances in animation and control system since then to make it smoother and slicker. What I am hoping that don't do is the whole COD upgrade thing; the game was brilliant but took a lot of learning, going into a game fresh with souped up players would kill it.

But colour me excited!

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On the basis of that trailer the spies seem more lethal than the mercs, which skews the power balance a bit and makes it more like AvP's MP than anything else. In the classic games aggressive tactics as a spy were always a last resort, unless you had mad skills.

It's definitely put Blacklist on my radar at least, which is wasn't before. I'm still cautious though; people tend to forget that spies versus mercs was actually in Double Agent, only they made a total hash of it. Then again most people tend to forget that Double Agent existed at all.

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Then again most people tend to forget that Double Agent existed at all.

I never played Double Agent, so I don't know what the big problems with it were. But I do remember a few people here saying that the Xbox/PS2 version was a lot better than the 360 version. I think they said it worked well because it kept things simple, and was essentially like an expansion pack for Chaos Theory; whereas the current-gen version tried lots of new features that didn't come off.

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I never played Double Agent, so I don't know what the big problems with it were. But I do remember a few people here saying that the Xbox/PS2 version was a lot better than the 360 version. I think they said it worked well because it kept things simple, and was essentially like an expansion pack for Chaos Theory; whereas the current-gen version tried lots of new features that didn't come off.

It was basically an Infinity Ward/Treyarch situation, Double Agent ended up being two entirely different games made by different teams.

Ubisoft Montreal, who made Chaos Theory and the original Splinter Cell (possibly Pandora Tomorrow's multiplayer as well IIRC), worked on the last-gen version whilst also developing Conviction. Ubisoft Shangai made the current gen version. It had some decent ideas, but much like Treyarch's CoD games Shangai's Splinter Cells just tend to feel like hollow facsimiles that, despite sharing identical mechanics, lack much of the spark and cohesion of the 'main' titles.

I was a skint student at the time it came out and regret not being able to pick them both up, so I never got to play the 'proper' one. The only PC port is of the Shangai one, so it's essentially a 'lost' Splinter Cell at this point, which is a shame.

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Eurogamer preview:

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-05-07-splinter-cell-blacklist-preview-the-king-of-multiplayer-returns

Still, it's nice to be reminded exactly how good Spies vs. Mercs is, especially after its curious absence in Conviction. Blacklist's take on the mode is more than a gentle reminder, though - it's a sharp slap in the face quite rudely letting you know of its brilliance.

Blacklist makes a handful of alterations to Spies vs. Mercs, in one half of its offering at least. Spies vs. Mercs Blacklist doubles the player count, pitting four mercs against four spies, and weaves in the customisation that's a central part of Ubisoft Toronto's take on Splinter Cell. There are still three terminals spread out across a map to be hacked or protected, and it's still got that tantalising split between the hunters and the hunted, but it's a noticeably more pacey and explicitly tactical take on the mode.

Thankfully, Blacklist also has a mode that doesn't just come close to replicating a classic Spies vs. Mercs match - with a little nip and tuck made in all the right areas, it does it's very best to outdo it. Spies vs. Mercs Classic proves that less really is so much more, stripping away the customisation introduced in its partner mode and bringing the player count down to two on two encounters. There's a larger emphasis put on the play between light and shadow, the maps on which Classic mode games take place cast in a thick dark that's only occasionally punched by little pools of light, or pierced by the flashlights on the end of the merc's rifles.

What follows is real survival horror, as two mercs go side by side into unlit and unexplored rooms frantically waving their lights around in pursuit of spies who could be waiting in the rafters, ready to pounce. The maps do a great job of teasing out the tension, working like haunted houses that are decked out with all the steel walkways and abandoned trainyards that you'd expect of the Clancy brand and full of tricky corners and hiding places for spies to seek shelter in.

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It's certainly a step in the right direction but aggro spies became a problem in the original SVM and it seems they're giving the spies more lethal options here as opposed to less ( the elbow to the merc's face, buying you a second or two to peg it, has been replaced with a lethal knife stab? No. A thousand times no. ). Once the spies no longer fear the mercs the whole thing starts to fall to pieces. Also I'm unsure about the ability to hack by just keying the terminal then remaining in the area for a countdown. The original SVM left you totally vulnerable with hacking and so you had to be sure once you started; if you're given the option of pogoing around the rafters as a timer ticks down then it's not exactly as suspenseful as being rooted to the terminal. Maybe it won't matter, I dunno.

Hopefully Stroker Ace will make a return to the forums to dissect the game once released, but I suspect he'll think the same and steer well clear.

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Ha yeah, it's great seeing the original players crawling out the woodwork. If I'm not mistaken it was you and Stroker who absolutely smashed me and tec1122 out of the Chaos Theory tournament. I'm feeling very nostalgic for the classic days of Live, lately.

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Great to see all the old spies and mercs re-emerging :). Pandora Tomorrow really was one of the best multiplayer games ever.

I still remember an hour long game of trying to track Hellcock the spy down in that high-rise map with the time limit turned off.

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I'd be well up for that, even re-played Pandora Tomorrow on BC not long ago and was amazed at how well the single player holds up, but with the classic Live servers turned off the MP won't work. What about the PC ports? I'd be surprised if there isn't still some community playing those.

I'm skeptical about 4v4 myself, but it's the aggressive spies that are setting off alarm bells for me. The spies shouldn't be lethal, that's the whole point. Other than their versatility they shouldn't even be equal. Classic SvM was tense for both parties; as a spy because you were so vulnerable and scared of being spotted, and as a merc because you couldn't see fuck all and they could be hiding anywhere.

If spies can be lethal from any direction rather than just from behind, then that basically turns the game into AvP. Now the mercs are the prey, the spies are hunters, and if you let them get close to you then you're dead. It turns the whole balance on its head. It'll be all about jumping out and shock tactics rather than genuine stealth.

What I'm hoping for is that 4v4 attracts all the aggrospy Warehouse neck-snapping addicts that plagued Chaos Theory towards the end, which leaves the classic mode for some proper stealthy, tense, tactical matches.

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Just watched the spie v merc video, this just shot up my wanted list!

Hopefully I have the time to learn the maps so I can get the most out if it. I knew every nook and cranny of Pandora tomorrow, but for some reason couldnt quite face learning all the chaos theory ones.

I was thinking the exact same thing this morning. I remember even having trouble with the Pandora Tomorrow DLC (the shopping centre map). There's no doubt that Spies vs Mercs has a massively steep learning curve. It was almost required to spend some time on your own exploring the maps as a spy to avoid getting lost when in an actual game.

I reckon I'm going to try to etch some regular online time out of my childcare routine for when this and GTAV come out. I'm earmarking Friday night and Sunday evening.

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Oof, i'm seeing a lot of old faces here. SniperMonkey UK reporting in.

Where's Stroker Ace? ;)

Those Sunday night games with you, Stroker, Tobert, Bravestarr, Manic and Miner Willy are probably the highlight of XBOX Live over the years. Even if this comes half way to recreating that, I am suddenly very excited about this game.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Present.

Eight player Guys vs. Jerks is megabullshit. I'll be around for 2v2, for sure.

Aha!

If you team back up with Hellcock then hopefully there'll be a suicide option for me to choose so I can save you guys a couple of minutes.

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Was there a cinema level in the original? I seem to recall me and Uncle Clive marvelling at the shadows cast by the projector as we not so sneakily walked in front of it.

...shortly before killing each other by dropping onto each other's heads in the entry vent.

Whole new world was that mode. Superb.

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Remember that 'boot camp' app I created so people could set games up? One of my better ideas, I think.

Yes! I basically started posting on this forum so people wanted to team up with me on Splinter Cell. Great times.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

VG247 preview

The way this preview describes it, the single-player sounds even worse than Conviction (although if you liked Conviction, then it might sound great, I dunno):

Unfortunately this was frequently undermined by prevalent heavy-handed action elements. These opening missions were heavily checkpointed, the next objective marker never more than 50 metres ahead. This often made the missions feel frustratingly restrictive. Although each area contained multiple routes, the strict checkpoints made exploration feel arbitrary.

Environments felt as if they had been divided into arenas, each filled with all-too-convenient waist high cover. This often stymied my stealth options. I had all these gadgets at my disposal, but little opportunity to use them creatively.

Another action ability that felt unwelcome was Execution. This allows you to designate targets and press a button to dispatch them automatically. It worked better here than in, say, Hitman Absolution, as targets are designated in real time and had to be in close range, which encouraged more strategic deployment. But it still felt at odds with the stealth, offering a get-out-of-jail-free card for difficult situations.

It was genuinely startling how many shooter clichés were packed into two missions. The Benghazi mission ended as an escort-the-hostage affair and forced me into direct combat against waves of enemies. The second full mission, an infiltration of a militia base in Iraq, opened with sniping enemies from a helicopter in a sequence that could have been snatched wholesale from a Call of Duty campaign but for the clumsily tacked-on stealth element.

If I alerted a guard the mission was failed. The same mission went on to present generic torture scenes and ended with a mad dash through the fire and falling rubble of a collapsing building. Frankly, it could have been a mission from any shooter released in the last three years.

This mission also introduced player choice in the form of moral decisions. Upon pinning a particular foe to the wall I was given the option to shoot or spare him. My decision seemed ultimately meaningless, as he ended up dead either way. It’ll be interesting to see if this is developed further over the course of the campaign. There’s certainly room for it within the central theme of terrorism and overseas conflict.

Any serious commentary seems unlikely. Everything I saw was delivered with a near-cringe worthy earnestness. Generic military teammates spouted acronyms while a sarcastic hacker sidekick said things like “Hold on, just putting the finishing touches of awesome to this puppy!”

It was all tied with a bow of pro-American sentiment that made me feel uneasy about how many dark-skinned foes I graphically slaughtered in Libya and Iraq respectively.

Multiplayer is a lot more promising thankfully:

We played ‘Blacklist’ mode, which featured teams of 4 four and customisable loadouts (the other option is ‘Classic’, where teams are limited to pairs with predetermined kit only). Spies use stealth and cunning to hack terminals, while Mercenaries assume a first-person viewpoint to stop them.

Customisation here was just as extensive as the campaign, with so much kit to unlock that players are bound to return time and again. This went a long way to encourage different play styles. Spies have severely limited offensive options, meaning their gear must be carefully chosen.

As a Spy I died numerous times from running too hastily into a firefight. Before my console crashed it was clear that multiplayer puts a strong focus on strategy that made playing on either side genuinely tense and competitive, and could offer a refreshing take on online multiplayer shooting.

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