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August 28, 2013

Splinter Cell: Blacklist Review


Sam's back, Michael Ironside is not, and Splinter Cell has never been better! 

Intro:




In 2013, an attack occurs on a US Military Air Force Base, carried out by a group known as The Blacklist.

Their aim is to remove the US Military from all the countries they don't belong in, sending their troops back home.

Of course, this game is politically correct, so that's not gonna happen. Under the guidance of President Caldwell, former Third Echelon communications lead Anna Grimsdottir initiates Fourth Echelon, a newer and more efficient version of Third Echelon.

Under the reluctant leadership of the original Splinter Cell, Sam Fisher, the new anti-terrorist unit sets out to stop the world from coming to the brink of World War III.

Time is running out. The demands are getting higher. Casualties are racking up. And it's your job to stop it all.

Release Date: August/September 2013.

Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U.

Developer/Publisher: Ubisoft.

Genre: Stealth Action.

Areas of Concern:


Violence:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

General Violence:

--You can use guns and pistols to shoot enemies (and dogs): Splashes of blood and cries of pain are depicted, along with some bloody bullet holes on the body of the enemy.

-When your character is shot, blood is shown staining the screen.

--You can either kill or knock out enemies in close combat:

Lethal: Your character slices and stabs the enemy with his knife, with blood briefly being shown. He can also break necks, with a crack being heard.

He can also throw enemies off ledges, and they land head first, blood splattering on the ground.

-He can either kick dogs or break their necks, with a crack and a whimper being heard.

Non-Lethal: Punches and chokes are shown as your character swiftly takes down enemies, sometimes smacking them against the ground.

He can also hit their heads against objects and ledges, with a thump being heard and they fall unconscious.

-He can also knock out dogs; he either kicks them, or hits their heads against the ground, knocking them out.

--We see several dead bodies and corpses during the course of the game: Blood pools and stains are depicted on the bodies and surrounding environment.

Storyline Violence:

--A man is shown with his hand restrained, missing a finger, a puddle of blood underneath it. His interrogator cuts off another finger off-screen, with cries of pain being heard. We see him later, missing his entire hand, blood and bone being shown.

--A group of soldiers are massacred inside a barracks: we see sprays of blood, pools of gore, and hear cries of pain as they are gunned down. One man is executed up close; we see a bloody bullet hole as he falls over backwards.

--A man is tied up to a chair and electrocuted; he screams in pain and blood stains his shirt. 

--A man is shot, kicked, punched, and his ankle is stepped on by another man. Blood stains his clothing and face and he cries out in pain.

--A man has his throat slit graphically; we see blood spray out from his neck as he chokes to death, and his shirt becomes soaked with blood. This is slightly obscured by a man in front of him. 

--A man is impaled through the stomach with a pole: we see blood on the pole and his mouth. A man pulls the pole in order to hurt him, as part of an interrogation. If you choose to kill him, he pulls the pole out, blood sprays, and the man screams in pain.

--There are several sequences where huge explosions go off, strewing wreckage everywhere and knocking people back.
 

Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

--A man hacks into a phone and enthusiastically remarks: "There's a lot of freaky porn on here!" 

Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

Infrequent Uses of F**k, S**t, A**h*le, B**ls, B**t**d, P**s, C**p, H**l, and D**n.

--God and Jesus' names are used in vain. 

Spiritual Content: 

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

--List of symbols:

-Pentagram. (Often associated with Satanism.)

-Hexagram. (Used extensively in the Occult.)

-The Crescent moon of Islam. (This makes an appearance in a Middle-Eastern country.) 

-Skulls. (Death, obviously.)


Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy 

--One mission has you infiltrating an opium farm, with poppies being shown. 

--We see a few liquor bottles scattered around in the environments.

--A few enemies light up "smokes" during the game.


Morality:

Abysmal Bad So-so Okay Good Very Good

Actually pretty good: Your character defends his country, bucking the chain of the command when it's absolutely necessary, and avoiding unnecessary casualties in the process. (Unless you, the player, choose otherwise.)

Of course, the depiction of Sam Fisher and his team is very politically correct, but still admirable. 

Review of Game:


Gameplay:

A true return to the Splinter Cell formula. Fusing the slow, deliberate strategy of Chaos Theory and the fast, killer pace of Conviction, Blacklist manages to cater to both audiences with the best Splinter Cell to come along in ages.

You are given three main playstyles to experiment with:

Ghost:

The traditional Splinter Cell formula. Avoid contact with enemies and use non-lethal methods to dispose of enemies when contact is inevitable. This branch awards you with the most points.

Panther:

Stealth with a deadly twist. Kill enemies swiftly and quietly and use cunning, hit-and-run tactics to win.

Assault: 

Gears of War. Call of Duty. Battlefield. Fan of the preceding? Don't want to be a coward and hide in shadows? Well, then this branch is for you.


The preceding playstyles award you with much flexibility and choice on how to play the game. 

Oh, and by the way? The main story is only the beginning. If you choose to buy the game, you're in for a real treat. Side missions galore, expanding on the preceding playstyles.

Not the least of which is the Co-op and Multiplayer, both of which I unfortunately have no experience with and as such can't comment on.


Story:


Surprisingly compelling, even if the third act unfortunately falls prey to the typical Hollywood climax formula, where all the preceding story build-up is tossed out in favour of grueling action.

It's by no means bad, but the game threw away an opportunity to give Hollywood blockbusters a run for their money.

Still, seeing all the characters butt heads over the best solution to a looming terrorist threat is nothing if not nail-biting.

I'll say that the game is solidly plotted, even if it devolves into standard action movie far in the final act. 


Audiovisual:

Okay, so Michael Ironside is not back. And even if you don't care, you got to admit that the current voice actor really doesn't fit in with the whole character of Sam Fisher. Gone is his sarcastic and dark sense of humour. Instead, we get a dry lemon flavoured tone and not an ounce of comedy.

The voice acting is by no means bad, but the new rendition of Sam Fisher is as a big a letdown as seeing your recovering alcoholic friend downing a pint of vodka on his wedding day.

Translation: It's a huge letdown.

The rest of the cast does an exceptional job, however. Of note is Charlie Cole, the comic relief of the game. And he does provide comic relief, believe me. You may not kill yourself laughing, (thankfully) but it's nice to have the serious tone buoyed by a few chuckle-worthy situations.

The graphics aren't too bad either, which I wasn't expecting since all the pre-release footage looked as plastic as a ken and barbie set.

I turned out to be DEAD wrong. The game looks very beautiful at stages and the detail in the character designs is astounding. It's not the next Crysis, but it sure looks awfully pretty, kinda like my---

.....Nah, you don't need to know.

Quality Verdict: Great (B+)






After some deliberation, I actually decided to award this with a Caution Advised. The language is pretty infrequent, the violence can be avoided save for the gruesome scene involving a dismembered hand, and it doesn't feel like an MA to me.

The Age Rating associated with Caution Advised (12+), does not apply here.


Content Verdict:


For Bloody Violence and Infrequent Strong Language.


Outro:




So there you go! I hope you guys enjoyed the review. I wish all games could be done like this, but unfortunately at this point in time, I don't have the finances.

But I'm glad I shelled out my hard earned money for this game. It's a great return to form for the franchise, and it truly deserves the Splinter Cell title.

Writer Bio:


Kyle van Rensburg is the Editor-in-Chief of Kyle's Christian Video Game Reviews. (KGR) He likes cookies.

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