Splinter Cell has been a series I can remember starting. I played the very first one on the original Xbox with my step sister and have then played every continuing title. Of course this brings me to the newest one, Splinter Cell Blacklist. Blacklist is a spy, thriller, and action game all in one. One of the most iconic things about the series is the protagonist himself, Sam Fisher. Fisher has one of the most recognized voices in gaming, however in this iteration they used a different voice actor (I'm not entirely sure why). Though, I think the new voice actor portrays Fisher very well. He still embodies Fisher in character and spirit.
The premise of the game isn't anything new, the generic "Terrorists are attacking us, we need to figure out why and stop them." However, I think this story arc is an interesting one as it takes place in a variety of locations that all have a unique feel to them. Gameplay wise, it feels just like Splinter Cell has always felt. You've got your stealth mechanics that require patience, skill, and wits. While stealth has always been the preferred method, they've included ways that allow you to be a ruthless killer in the shadows along with going on an all out assault. There are a ton of weapons you can use and that are customizable with scopes, attachments, and ammo types. Gadgets play a big role, maybe even bigger than the previous games it feels. There are several that are also customizable. Sticky cams, noise makers, and tricopters let you take different approaches to a level. Want to scope out ahead and mark or even neutralize the enemies? Fly that tricopter in and use the sticky shock shooter it has attached. Need to lure a few guards away to make a quick escape? Throw a noise maker in the opposite direction. The ways you can utilize these gadgets is endless. Though, the problem that stems with this is that sometimes it makes the levels feel too easy. Once you unlock the sonar goggles (I think there are a few more levels past that but I didn't bother), you pretty much have it easy from there on. Being able to see the enemies through walls allows you to anticipate them easier, there's even one that tracks footsteps I believe.
Back to the level design, I'd say it's fairly well done. For the most part the levels are pretty straight forward (not linear per se). You go from point A to point B to complete your objective. There are different paths you can take inbetween that allows you to mix things up and still not feel too linear. When you explore and find that one spot, you'll usually come out with an advantage. These paths can make things easier when you're aiming for a no kill approach to the game, which frankly makes the game way harder than it needs to be (there is a professional mode as well, will go through on a second playthrough to do that). The game takes a good while to go through, my play through was about 15 hours and then I did a few of the side missions. I also ended up taking my time, making sure I could memorize the enemy patterns and when my best oppurtunity was. I think the pacing is pretty good. I wouldn't complain that it's too short because I wanted to keep playing so it was nice when I wasn't able to anticipate when it would end right away.
There's also a multiplayer where it's Spy vs. Merc, but I haven't played that, I wasn't too interested. I believe all of the missions allow a co-op option which sounds like a lot of fun. Some paths are geared towards having another teammate like an extra high ledge you'd only be able to reach with one. If you have a friend, I'd say give it a go and play through it coop, it'd be a lot of fun.
So all in all, I would recommend this to anyone who has played and enjoyed the previous Splinter Cell games and anyone who enjoys stealth and being a spy. I wouldn't say it's the best in the series, (Chaos Theory holds that spot) but it's one of the better ones. It's graphically amazing, gameplay stays true to the series, and a fairly decent story.