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Splinter Cell: Blacklist preview

How the Wii U reinvigorates an ageing super-spy

At long last, Sam Fisher returns to Nintendo. He was last seen dimming lights and snapping necks in 2006's Double Agent on the GameCube, which was a backwards port of a next-gen game. Now is the first time since Chaos Theory (2005) that we've seen full parity between Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft machines and the wait's been well worth it.

A lot has changed in Sam's seven-year sabbatical. He's now more agile, more brutal and inexplicably younger, vaulting around environments and dispatching bad men by the dozen. His Benjamin Button-style approach to special ops sees the leader of the newly established Fourth Echelon defend America against deadly terrorists with an ultimatum. Their 'Blacklist' threatens an escalating series of attacks on US soil and it's Sam's mission to stop the countdown reaching zero.

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To help: gadgets. No self-respecting spy leaves the house without them and they're right at home on the GamePad-equipped Wii U. "The GamePad screen is the player's version of Sam Fisher's arm computer or OPSAT (OPerational SATellite uplink)," explains Blacklist producer, Liu Jun. "Sam uses his OPSAT throughout the game to access and control his gadgets and to communicate with his team.

"With the Wii U version, the player gets to experience first-hand how OPSAT works for Sam and how it feels to operate it. In the Wii U version, players can see what Sam sees through the OPSAT and it's a very powerful feeling to choose how to use this gadget to make decisions as the leader of Fourth Echelon."

Happy Hardware

Gadgets are a key part of Splinter Cell tradition, a series that offers tantalising glimpses of military technology's bleeding edge. "Originally, Sam's OPSAT was based on real-world military prototypes and secret research programmes," states Jun, "but our inspiration is not just military. We look at exciting innovations and we find inspiration from the latest technology."

It's important to tread the line, though. A few years ago, flying killer robots would have been more Terminator than tactical espionage, but Blacklist's Tri-rotor finds its place here, thanks to the US government's deployment of similar drones overseas (thanks, Obama!).

You'll pilot it remotely to scout ahead, mark enemies and even explode with frag grenade force. Like ZombiU players whipping out their backpacks and glancing away from the TV, you'll need to pick your moments carefully, unless you want a bullet in the back. And in most scenarios, you don't.

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The GamePad doesn't just help with gadgets. "Players are going to be constantly making tactical choices on the fly, such as, 'should I kill this guard or just knock him out?' or, 'should I use a Five-Seven with a silencer, or a shotgun?'" explains Jun. "We use the GamePad screen to help players make tactical choices on the fly, without breaking the game's flow or story's tension. So, at any moment and by simple touch, you can pick any of your weapons or gadgets, or switch from lethal to non-lethal takedowns."

Motion Slickness

Killing remotely is great, but nothing beats getting up close and personal. "Killing in Motion is a core gameplay philosophy in Splinter Cell: Blacklist, enabling the player to move through the environment to kill quickly and fluidly and we've connected this in an innovative way to the GamePad," says Jun. "By raising the GamePad, for example, you can activate the thermal vision on your GamePad screen. From there you can use the motion controls to scan the environment and conveniently mark enemies with a simple touch. Once you've mastered Sam's abilities, you can give the execute command, and enjoy the spectacle of the Killing in Motion you've just triggered on the screen."

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9 comments so far...
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  1. ichikatakuri Sunday 30th Jun 2013 at 08:52

    Great preview, I am really looking forward to this game especially with the new gamepad features. I'm not surprised Ubi are betting on spies VS mercs being big, it was one of the first online console experiences for a lot of people back in Pandora Tomorrow on the original XBOX and it did gain a rather cult following with a massive community requesting it in every new splinter cell, wonder why it took this long to show up? It better be good.

  2. Lonegamer Sunday 30th Jun 2013 at 10:16

    cant wait, lets just hope people buy it.

  3. fatherofthenoo Sunday 30th Jun 2013 at 16:32

    cant wait, lets just hope people buy it.

    They won't. But you can always hope.

  4. IRNBRU64 Sunday 30th Jun 2013 at 16:57

    NICE! Because the Wii U has better specs than Xbox 360 and PS4, will it look better? I imagine the frames won't drop as easily, but in a game like Splinter Cell, there's not much that would make the frames fall.

  5. lyingthroughyour Monday 1st Jul 2013 at 14:56

    It looks like Ubi have really put in the effort on this one, Wii U owners - buy this game! I know I will be.

  6. 5OUNDWAVE Monday 1st Jul 2013 at 16:51

    haven't played splinter cell since the first one , not my type of game but now that we have the game-pad i'll definitely pick this up day one !

  7. Amine Dassouki Monday 1st Jul 2013 at 22:55

    This may be the first time, in a very long time that I choose to buy a multiplat game on a console rather than PC. I really suck at aiming with analogs though.

  8. jhell Monday 15th Jul 2013 at 23:05

    This game will be mys

  9. JaxonH Thursday 18th Jul 2013 at 01:09

    Game looks absolutely fantastic. Marking targets with the gamepad, 1st person view and control of that trirotor drone with the gamepad, and real time inventory and map integration, along with off-screen play (correct me if I'm wrong), makes this the version to buy of a game that is definitely worth buying anyways. Already pre ordered, I'll be enjoying this in late August!

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