This article originally appeared in Xbox World magazine.
Sam Fisher stars as Benjamin Button in yet another Splinter Cell wherein 50-something Sam shows more vigour than his 40-year-old self ever did. Between the airstrikes, drones and machine gunishment, Blacklist's E3 demo didn't look stealthy - but in Splinter Cell: Blacklist the stealth is all down to you, not Ubisoft.
The Blacklist is a laundry list of American people and places targeted for attack. Everyone with a reason to be pissed off at Uncle Sam has a copy, effectively uniting every terrorist on Earth behind an all-out war on the United States. This is what Jade Raymond was talking about when she said Ubisoft's new Toronto studio would tackle real-world issues. Sam's clearly the good guy, but the bad guys have real issues about American aggression, and some truly heinous methods of making their point.
In the time between Conviction and Blacklist Third Echelon is dissolved and Sam is placed in charge of a new Fourth Echelon agency, so he immediately hits the gym and becomes an expert climber. Ubisoft's E3 demo sees Sam scaling cliff faces at high speed, dragging men off rooftops, and using Conviction's Mark and Execute system to take down men three at a time as he charges through a terrorist-held village.
There's even a sequence where Sam attacks the insurgents from a remote-controlled drone. Wait! Come back! Ubisoft went into detail about the game's alternate routes and new interrogation sequences behind closed doors. Stick a knife in a man and you can twist it with RS, but torture and murder have consequences Sam will face later in the game. The village has multiple paths and is clearly more open than any level in Chaos Theory or Conviction, even if it is punctuated by scripted events.
"This demo gives you one taste of a different kind of Splinter Cell, but stealth is still a vital aspect of the game," says game director Patrick Redding. "You're gonna see lots of locations driven by darkness, but we wanted to show some variety and this was the best way to show it."
Splinter Cell, like Ghost Recon and Assassin's Creed is now a series without a genre. It's part stealth game, part shooter and part platformer - whatever game you want to play, however you want to play it, and only ever as stealthy as you are. In fact, you could call it a Sam of all trades, master of fun. [If you wanted to get fired. - Ed.]