The Splinter Cell series seems to have been wandering in the wilderness recently, much like the Tom Clancy multiverse in general, as it tries to find a coherent identity from game to game. Granted, there's always been the steadying presence of everyone's favourite super-soldier / agent / father Sam Fisher, but considering we've seen him go from co-op adventures in Chaos Theory, family turmoil in Conviction and the gritty terrorism themes of today's Splinter Cell, it's safe to say things became a bit muddied along the way. The latter represents the newly-formed Ubisoft Toronto's debut offering, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist.
Blacklist puts players into the shoes of a strangely young-looking and Michael Ironside-lacking Sam Fisher, who has been placed in charge of America's new Fourth Echelon elite task force. Fisher and Co. must put an end to the Blacklist, a list of key U.S. assassination targets put together by a network of fanatical terrorist outfits, by any means necessary. You know, the stuff any contemporary globe-trotting action-epic worth its salt is made of. This time around, Splinter Cell heads to Afghanistan - among other places, I'd guess - to root out terror in increasingly brutal ways.
Check out the Splinter Cell: Blacklist demo from Microsoft's media briefing below. It's Jack Bauer certified.
We saw an extended version of that level, which was common during our time with Ubisoft. Alongside the signature mechanics of Splinter Cell - mark and execute maneuvers, augmented reality goggles, and kill and drag takedowns - making a return in Blacklist, a number of new features were shown during our guided session. For example, interrogation was a noticeable element left out of Blacklist's public showing. Sam is all too able and willing to get information out of others through "tough questioning". These encounters are fully interactive, wherein players will have to use button-prompts and analog stick movements to mimic the torture progress. It's nasty stuff, but somebody's got to do it, right? Let's table that discussion for now.
The demo closed with a climactic set-piece, which forced Sam to run out of a crumbling building, dodging explosions on the fly. Much like the rest of Blacklist's debut showing, it looked visually striking. Combat appeared fluid throughout, as Sam expertly navigated the war-torn environments. It's safe to say the Assassin's Creed engine has been working overtime across Ubisoft's global studio network.
Keep an eye out for more on Splinter Cell: Blacklist in the months leading up to its Spring 2013 targeted release on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.