Sam Fisher is nearing his return.
It’s been a while…5 years to be exact, since a Splinter Cell game was released. Ubisoft has been busy working on other projects and it looked as if Sam Fisher was going to be shelved for an undisclosed period of time. Recently, a trailer surfaced featuring Sam Fisher as he will be featured in a mission of Ghost Recons Wildlands.
While that doesn’t sound particularly exciting, it just might serve as pre-cursor for what to come. Splinter Cell may be returning and a formal announcement could happen this year. Might be at E3 or the Game Awards, we’ll have to wait and see.
But the reason I am anticipating Splinter Cell’s return is because it’s one of the best stealth franchises of the current generation. Splinter Cell Chaos Theory is one of my favorite games of all time and it stands as one of the most well-designed games of its generation. There were numerous paths to every objective; if players were inquisitive enough, you could find a route that would slip past every guard unnoticed. But, you are able to select your load-out so if you choose to go in guns-blazing, then that was a feasible option too. You were empowered to play your way and it still holds up today.
But I’m here to spread some blasphemy and say that I firmly believe that Splinter Cell Blacklist is the best game in the series. Hate me if you will, but I bought the game on steam recently and remembered why I was so enamored with the series when it first released in 2002. Blacklist takes everything that was great about Chaos Theory and Conviction and merges them to create one of the best stealth experiences in all of gaming. It implores exploration as there are always vents or hidden openings that will allow you to slip past confrontations. Then again, you are more than equipped to take on all comers; the arsenal that Sam Fisher has at his disposal is enough to take down a small army.
Blacklist doesn’t punish you for choosing a certain playstyle, in fact, it rewards you for experimenting. You can ghost through an entire level, only stopping to incapacitate enemies that happen to spot you or you can work to eliminate all targets in an area. If you so choose you can do a combination of both. Blacklist does nothing to force a player down a set path like Conviction did and for that I was grateful. If Ubisoft does happen to announce a new Splinter Cell game, I hope it continues the foundation that Blacklist laid down. One of the things I loved the most about Blacklist were the various side-ops found in the game. Co-op was a really fun experience in the later Splinter Cell games; Chaos Theory, Conviction, and Blacklist all featured great co-operative modes.
Tandem takedowns are where its at people.
Now, let’s talk about the real reason I want Splinter Cell back. Spies Vs. Mercs. One of the best multiplayer modes in which a group chooses the spies that play in third person and the other choose mercenaries that play in first-person. The Spies are faster but do have lower hit points and they can instantly kill the Mercenaries if they get close enough. Mercenaries are slower, but have the fire power and the gadgets to find and eliminate spies with only a few shots. These are incredibly tense matches that require players to alter their playstyles throughout each match as players do change sides after each round. Teamwork is a requirement as the lone wolf will be quickly eliminated. It’s always fun shocking mercenaries from a far or blasting a spy just as they are moving in for the stealthy kill. I do hope that if Splinter Cell is announced, Spies Vs. Mercs makes its glorious return.
What really matters for most fans though, is that Michael Ironsides returns to voice Sam Fisher. While the voice actor in Splinter Cell Blacklist did an admirable job filling in, Sam is a man in his late 40’s and it just didn’t sound the same. Ironsides, like Morgan Freeman, could narrate damn near everything and I would listen. It’s just how things should be. While the gaming world waits patiently for the return of Sam Fisher. I will be returning to the world of Blacklist for some unfinished business.
I need to work on my ghosting skills.