We’ve already looked at the Ghost style of play of Splinter Cell Blacklist, now a focus on the Panther style. Whilst purists will argue that the best way to get the job done is to leave little to no traces, and this falls in line with the Ghost gameplay. However, players looking to have a bit more fun with the sneaking can adopt the silent but deadly approach.
Entering into combat situations with alerted guards will automatically award combat points, so for Panther to work players have to use gadgets, weapons that strike from the darkness. Naturally, players need to think about the consequences of their actions such as dead bodies potentially being discovered, but there’s a real predatory approach when attempting to kill all without raising the alarm. Whilst perhaps less tense than Ghost approaches, there’s a real foreboding sense of anticipation as players move through each level zone.
Blacklist accomplishes the stealth attacks very well, but does allow for some moments where the AI can be abused such as on sneaky corners using lure techniques. The attack prompts actually work and there’s enough grace if spotted to quickly initiate an attack and still retain a stealth kill or KO award. It’s neat how the game allows players the choice to lock in or out lethal hand to hand attacks preventing any errors scuppering those bonuses.
Sam has a variety of tools available to take out opponents and with the new efficiency factor playing a part, it’s cool to be able to string together multiple stealth KOs or Kills even if it kind of goes against the ethos of being a stealth agent. There’s a bit of planning involved to get things right, and when they do, Sam feels very much like the badass character we come to expect. Blacklist’s smooth operation makes playing feel very accomplished and much more rewarding than previously seen.
Players will have to choose, or in fact replay levels to get a real feel for each style as they play very differently and produce quite a contrasting effect in how the AI and game reacts. Ghost players will avoid replacement guards being called in, whereas the skilful killer will relish in seeing how effectively they can clear an area before moving on.