Ubisoft has apparently spent the last two years developing this game and packing in as much content as possible, we are told. At E3 they are focusing on the single-player campaign and showing off the new and returned features that Sam Fisher’s newest global conspiracy has to offer.
The demo we see, described to us by lead level designer Matt West, is set on the Iran-Iraq border. Sam, disguised as an insurgent enters in an enemy camp pretending to have a wounded teammate. After a few men are efficiently capped in the head, Sam sticks a knife in the leader’s chest and interrogates the suspect. At this point we are told that this Splinter Cell is going to be all about the choices, as the player is given the option to kill or simply knock out the enemy – how these choices will affect the game, we are not told.
The desert and mountainous environment, despite the limited brown colour palette, looks gorgeous and Sam heads further into the base to demonstrate some of his moves. After cutting through the back of a tent he quickly disposes of a guard then marks the other targets and takes them out in slow-mo using an updated version of the same feature from Conviction. However, what is markedly different is moving across the environment, no longer awkwardly sticking to walls, Sam slides across a jeep bonnet and takes out a further opponent in what seems like one move.
Later on, we see the return of the shock bow that Sam uses to electrocute a couple of unsuspect guards standing in a pool of water, they certainly didn’t see that one coming. The option is available to switch into all-out war and run in guns blazing, but it’s great to see that the focus remains on stealth and the skills and tools Sam uses to that end.
Finally, Sam reaches his ultimate destination, where the target is held up inside a building with a few guards. Using the radar sensor, the building is scanned to check where enemies are, and after having used the trusty under-door cam to identify the specific target, a bomb placed on the door as a diversion, and Sam climbs onto the roof and rappels down the side, crashing into the room and marking and assassinating the men as the bomb explodes.
The next section sees same controlling a drone, using it to reign down rockets and machine gun fire on the AA guns and soldiers below, facilitating his escape and adding variety to the gameplay. Though we’ve yet seen the real variation in routes and approaches to each situation – something we’ll need to wait for the full game for – the fluidity in combat and emphasis on badass stealth techniques makes Splinter Cell: Blacklist look promising even without having seen other game modes.
The game is out Spring 2013 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.