Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist ReviewGuest_Jim_* - September 3, 2013
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Splinter Cell Blacklist begins with a prologue mission filled with action as a military base is attacked, just as you are leaving it in a helicopter. The exploding munitions force your helicopter to crash land, but you and your friend Vic survive. Armed with just a knife at first, you stalk around, taking out the terrorists as you can, and trying to figure out who they are. At the end of the mission, Vic is seriously injured by a grenade and you, Sam Fisher, are pulled into action by the President herself. You are now the leader of Fourth Echelon, a group with full autonomy that answers directly to the President with the singular goal of stopping the terrorists.
The terrorists call themselves the Engineers and are without mercy. The attack on the base was the first step of their plan called the Blacklist, with a new attack coming every seven days, until the United States pulls all military personnel from foreign lands. Your first step to uncovering the Engineers is to find an old acquaintance who is hoping for protection from the Engineers. Naturally you give it, but now he wants protection from you for events that happened in previous games.
Though more or less the kind of story you would expect from an action game, with many twists to intrigue you, it does a good job of keeping you interested in events. Missions to stop or expose the Engineers take you to many points on the globe, including United States cities as you and your team are the best defense against the terrorists. In some cases, you are also the only defense.
Other members of your team include Charlie Cole, the tech guy and hack; Anna "Grim" Grimsdottir, who manages the operation; Isaac Briggs, who lends support on the ground and is the co-op player; as well as your old 'friend,' Andriy Kobin, who gives you access to the black market. Exactly how Kobin accesses the black market from your flying base-of-operations though, I am not sure. Each of these characters give you access to different things, such as plane upgrades, weapon upgrades, and information on your progress. They also have side missions for you to complete, with special requirements. Kobin's missions involve killing every enemy you find while Grim's can require more stealth, as detection means defeat.
Though these side missions obviously would take time to complete in the game world, they do not appear to count against the counter until the next attack. Neither does replaying previous missions to find collectibles or just getting a more-perfect run.
Though the story may be what you would expect from an action game, it is still done very well. Everything has some purpose and little is as simple as it appears to be at first, making the game an intriguing experience, both inside and outside of missions. If I must give it a fault, it is the linearity of the game, as the countdown clock only appears to advance when it is convenient for you. No need to balance playing side missions with completing the campaign; even the campaign missions are supposedly tied to the life and death of thousands if not millions of people. Of course, that may only dawn on you if you think about it too much.