I have been a Splinter Cell fan since I first played it back in 2003. It has given me plenty of memories, such as making my own NVG's and Tac Suit from scratch and sneaking around the house, getting a snack, and later asking my parents if they heard me (I never got caught once ). So naturally I was disappointed when I played Conviction.
Ever since Conviction released, I often thought of what kinds of changes were necessary to keep a series fresh and entertaining.
SCA was my first Xbox 360 game and I loved it to death (partly because I was pretty young) though it wasn't like all the past Splinter Cell games.
The first original xbox game I ever owned was SC:SAR and I instantly fell in love with it back in 2003 (the time I bought it). SC:PT added new elements and innovated on the original concept in many clever and progressive ways, without sacrificing any of the original gameplay; by adding multiplayer, new moves, and totally new environments to use stealth in. Chaos Theory took this to a whole new level with a redesigned engine. They gave the player more control over Sam and gave you the tools to play the way you wanted (provided you know the risks of an all out one man army assault [which usually resulted in failure]).
Now when it comes to Double Agent, we see clearly see a divergence from the path of innovation that Splinter Cell had originally been set on. Story became more important as did Line-of-Sight stealth. Though after playing the original trilogy, I did find that I was going back to CT far more than Double Agent.
While the changes in Double Agent were many, few of them were game-breaking or detrimental to the Stealth paradigm. In fact some of them were welcome, such as the new animations and moves.
This brings me to the original Conviction build. I immediately thought that the game would be fun, but as another series altogether (I'll elaborate more later). The gameplay looked good, in fact very similar to Watch Dogs, but it just wasn't Splinter Cell. Luckily Ubi noticed this fatal flaw as well and went back to the drawing board.
When the new Conviction was shown at E3 2009 I was cautiously optimistic about it. I gave it the benefit of the doubt and allowed Maxime and his team to mislead me so much that I gave in and bought the game. They didn't deliver on their promises to keep the game in line with the other Splinter Cells.
At first I attributed this to reinvigorating the series after Double Agent which surely warranted it. But this was reinvigorating, it was recreating, something that was far from necessary.
The fact of the matter is that the dev team didn't just make changes to SC, they removed things, far too many things. The elements that made SC tense and exciting were now gone. Action replaced Stealth, Jason Bourne replaced Sam Fisher, and Hollywood replaced Realism. These are the types of elements you would expect from a Call of Duty title, not Splinter Cell.
When changes are made to games they should be an improvement on the last iteration, keeping the good and replacing the bad. A clear example of this is Halo. Now I know some of you don't hold Halo in the highest esteem, it does fit this model very well. Think about it for a moment; how much has Halo changed since the first game? Sure the engine was improved and gameplay was more fluid, but the core game has not changed. Halo is Halo. It doesn't try to be anything else.
Splinter Cell is not so lucky. The teams behind Conviction and Blacklist ignore this very basic principle of improvement. Make the game easier to handle yes, but don't make the game itself easier. Much of the fun had in video games is the challenge that they present, and often time s the tactical challenges are what is most rewarding.
But enough of my ramblings, time to get to Blacklist.
It seems that the model I just outlined is completely applicable to Blacklist. They improve on what didn't work in Conviction and added improvements to the overall game.
The Unfortunate thing is that they are still making the wrong game. This game would be perfect As its own series. Splinter Cell is not the place for such developments.
Splinter Cell had change up until DA, then it took a nose dive off a cliff and entered whole new territory. Territory it was never meant to enter. Please note that I am not bashing Conviction or Blacklist, I think that they are very good games for What they sent out to accomplish, but they are not Splinter Cell games. I would rather have Ubi explicitly say that they are no longer making stealth games, just action games with some stealth in them, rather than mislead consumers into thinking that the classic gameplay is still present.
I am the first to agree that change is necessary, but only if it is a change in the right direction. The changes I saw in Blacklist are utterly disappointing and unfortunately a deal-breaker. Michael Ironside's voice, the emphasis on action and the unrealistic premise are all evidence of this game series falling to it's death at the bottom of the cliff. I won't repeat what has been said in other threads because It would extend this post even longer than it already is.
Sadly, I'll be hanging up the goggles until I see what I have come to expect from years of fan feedback and requests.
To Beland and your team: please give Splinter Cell back to the people who love it and who care about stealth games
Unless you prove me wrong in the coming months. Maybe you can pull off all you say you can
To Everyone else, thanks for reading this long winded post