From there, I watched as Sam continued to tear through the enemy camp like a one man army with an endless supply of tricks up his sleeve. One second, he was luring an enemy to the edge of a roof before yanking him off it; the next second, he was standing on that roof and shooting an electrified crossbow bolt into a puddle of water to shock the two guys who had wandered over to investigate.
And that’s what I really loved about watching Blacklist in motion: the way that any situation could clearly be handled in multiple ways, each as creative and entertaining as the others. Since this was (mostly) the same demo that was shown off during Microsoft’s press conference, I was familiar with most of it and how it was going to progress. And that worked to my benefit, since I got to see some of the same challenges handled in different ways.
For instance, there was a part near the end of the mission in which Sam can snake a camera under a door, tag his targets for a Mark And Execute, slap a breaching charge on the door, blow them off their hinges, and come charging in to take down his targets…at least, that was the way it was handled the first time I saw it. This time around, our guide prepared in the same manner, but instead of remaining in front of the door and charging in like Rambo, he scaled the building by climbing up a pipe and worked his way over to a window on the side. He rappelled down, blew the breaching charges (which got the attention of the men in the room, who turned to face the doorway), and came smashing through the window to enter the room and shoot his opponents, who were now facing away from him. It was strategic, it was stylish, and it just went to show that there is never just one way to handle a group of enemies.
One other feature that I got to see shortly thereafter that I had not gotten to see before was that apparently, there are moments scattered throughout the campaign in which the perspective is actually shifted away from Sam and you find yourself being put in the shoes of other Fourth Echelon members.
After Sam got his hands on Jadid — who, as it turns out, was a former MI6 agent before Al Qaeda convinced him to defect — the latter promptly blew his own brains out and the building was almost immediately swarmed by troops. At this point, Sam called in air support, and our guide took control of a gunner in the chopper. He mowed down a bunch of the troops that were rushing towards Sam’s location in the building, as well as a couple of AA guns, before the perspective was switched back to Sam. It was brief, but it was a great way to switch things up and remind the player that unlike some of the other Splinter Cell games, Sam is not alone in this one.
And it seems that we as players won’t be alone either, the Ubisoft Toronto reps did confirm that there will be multiplayer in Blacklist, including the ever-popular Spies vs. Mercs mode. There will also be co-op, though when I asked if the game would feature a separate co-op campaign like Conviction, the rep hesitated to say yes outright. He said that they’re still trying to keep the details about it on the down low, but he explained that there would be a lot of different story elements between the modes that would mesh and blend together, while also saying that there will be missions that are exclusive to co-op mode. So perhaps there will be some sort of synthesis in which there are certain missions in single player and co-op that overlap, while others are exclusive to their respective modes.
Personally, I can’t wait to find out.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist will be released in Spring 2013 for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.
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