There's a nice sense of impact and physical force to the world. The engine isn't pushed overly far by explosions and so on, but many of the set pieces impart a sense of destruction even if it's scripted and controlled by the scene. Bodies fall in a variety of interesting and realistic ways most of the time based on the force of impact and the round used (you can change ammo types on the Paladin or at supply crates if you bought the Paladin upgrade).AI
This is probably the best AI in an Ubisoft game yet and certainly the best Splinter Cell AI. It can be fooled/tricked and manipulated – be warned though, the AI will respond to a second call or a partial detection in varied ways based on their soldier type. It will also respond based on its alert status and if on high alert may just decide that you're not a distraction but the real thing and neat to eat a grenade or two.
The AI changes based on the difficulty level – if you're playing on Rookie expect an easier time. Play on Professional or Perfectionist and this is where the true challenge lies. AI is beefed up considerably and has an incredible perception for the slightest thing out of place. They can detect you in seconds and they're vicious on the hunt.
It's great stuff.Sound
The sound suite for Blacklist is spot on, there are no glitches or issues and it sounds great from the weapons to the ambient effects.Music
The orchestral soundtrack to Blacklist is some of the best music we've heard from a Splinter Cell game and it has a real impact on the theme and atmosphere of the product. It really pushes the envelope in terms of the series music and sounds just superb when the dramatic sequences kick in.Voice
I miss Michael Ironside but the new guy has to do all the mocap, stunts, facial animation recognition and the voice acting at the same time pretty much. The new system captures a ton of information from the get-go and Ironside cited himself he's too old for the role. So Sam's new voice is a shade lighter and less gravelly, but hey he does a damn good job with it and I can accept him in the role. The rest of the cast do a fantastic job in their roles as well and the whole thing comes together with the polish you'd expect from a AAA title.Dialogue
The dialogue is quality in this game, there's a real sense of drama between the characters and the story is well told.Multiplayer
Co-op is akin to single player with a variety of objectives based on the 4E mission you're running with a friend or stranger (see previous 4E types). Co-op can be played split-screen or online over Xbox Live. Many co-op missions have alternate co-op only routes and dual boost locations to further enhance the experience with a friend.
Spies vs. Mercenaries is the return of a fan favourite and it comes in various varieties and every single one is pretty darn addictive. The game plays really well and there are no discernible lag issues!
SvM Blacklist: 4v4 with two rounds, playing alternately as Spies and Mercs – Spies hack 3 terminals, Mercs try and stop them. There's customisation and classes for this mode.
SvM Classic: 2v2 and the task here is to kill the other team. No customisation and the game plays like a grand game of hide and go kill.
Extraction: 4v4 mode and the Mercs must break into a Spy HQ. There they must steal intel and the spies have to stop them. Good fun.
Uplink Control: 4v4 and the two teams are made up of a mix of spies and mercs depending on player choice. Each team has an Uplink and must move around the map capturing other uplinks. Kind of like a roaming King of the Hill.
Team Deathmatch: 4v4 classic multiplayer and both teams can have a mix of spies and mercs.
Spies vs. Mercenaries has really progressed since the infant days of Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory and this iteration is a welcome change and addition to the series.Blacklist, not Blacklisted!
This is arguably one of the best Splinter Cell games yet and the new Sam is a bit edgier and still familiar enough to be Sam Fisher. Ubisoft have won me over with this new direction and there are countless hours of core story, 4E missions and quality game time here in this package – it's a big package and it's jam-packed with stuff to keep you occupied.
Repeat your missions to earn better rewards and scores, play challenges to hone your skills as Sam and dive into Spies vs. Mercs.
It's all there.