Today we’re taking a closer look at Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell Blacklist in our series of preview videos. We’ve looked at the Ghost and Panther styles, those troublesome dogs, and now we’re looking at the return to the game’s roots, in the Perfectionist difficulty which should please fans of the older games.
Conviction came under some fire from series veterans due to its mark and execute feature and the fact that the speedier gameplay made for a less rewarding game. Sure, mark and execute was always optional, but it felt that by design, conviction steered players towards utilizing the cinematic win button for the sake of cool. Hearing the complaints and taking them on board, Ubisoft has included a perfectionist difficulty in Blacklist which disables all of the “easy” features that made conviction less challenging.
For starters, the most obvious change is the disabling of the Mark and Execute feature. Players can still mark enemies but those quick succession kills cannot be performed. This poses less of an issue for those well versed in sneaking past groups of enemies, but in some of the more scripted moments, makes for tense gameplay moments as players rely on skillful aiming at speed rather than auto aiming.
Perhaps a less subtle change is the removal of the effectiveness the Sonar had before, which still works but is unable to see through walls making the device almost redundant. Perhaps the radar which is still viewable is enough for some and is on by default, but this too can be switched off as well as HUD display options.
Lastly, Perfectionist ups the difficulty of the AI which although not so obvious going from Realistic difficulty, the changes are apparently there in terms of how sensitive the AI is to Sam’s movements.
Playing ghost or panther style on Perfectionist is quite the challenge, especially if players go the extra mile and turn off the radar as well. Despite Sam’s speedier crouch speeds and fast paced stealth action, on request, playing in this manner is perhaps the real deal for Blacklist and the way purists and long term fans of the series will play. It certainly provides a greater challenge all round, and due to the game’s adaptive gameplay, makes it quite tempting to go with the flow rather than restarting when busted.
The bottom line is, Splinter Cell Blacklist looks like being a comprehensive addition to the series that includes options catered towards a variety of play styles. Rather than have players create their own restrictions these are incorporated into the free-form gameplay making for a definitive Splinter Cell stealth or stealth action game depending on how players want to play. You can sneak around in the shadows avoiding conflict, or you can remove every threat from each area before moving on. The choice to kill or simply knock out the opposition is also there for those with a conscience. Blacklist is the Splinter Cell game of choices and by offering the choice means everyone should be happy whether that be series vet or newcomer.