The Ninjabot

Splinter Cell Blacklist Review: GamePad is a Game Changer

Posted on September 8, 2013 at 6:51 pm by Justin Cavender

Splinter Cell Blacklist Cover Crop

Standing in front of a closed door, uncertain of what dangers are waiting for me on the other side, I use the Wii U GamePad to select the snake-cam for a quick peek. It appears only one guard separates me from my objective. I take my time, study his movements, waiting for the perfect moment to breach the door and take him out. Upon opening the door, I notice a patrolling guard coming down the hallway to my left. I grab the first guard and use him as a human shield, taking aim to neutralize my new target. Within seconds, the fight is over and two guards are dead on the ground. It wasn’t my original plan, but in Splinter Cell Blacklist, you have to think on your feet or end up on your back.

The story puts players in control of Sam Fisher, the night-vision goggle-wearing badass with stealth skills rivaling Michael Dudikoff in American Ninja. With the help of your newly formed Fourth Echelon team, you must stop a terrorist group known as the Engineers from fulfilling their Blacklist threat.

Splinter Cell Blacklist Sam

Judo Chop or Bullets to the Face

Splinter Cell Blacklist lets players decided what type of operative they want to be. Do you wish to play the entire game as a ghost, using nothing but silent, non-lethal takedowns? It’s entirely possible to beat the game without killing a single person, although, I don’t recommend trying it unless you have nerves of steel.

After completing a mission, players will be ranked in three possible categories: Ghost (silent non-lethal takedowns), Assault (kill every bastard in your path), and Panther (undetected but lethal takedowns). I started each mission with the intent on ranking high in Ghost, but after a few minutes, I found myself exhibiting Assault and Panther tendencies. The Mark and Execute ability makes it hard to resist the free kills. Simply tap the R button to mark your targets and press X when they come into range. Doing so will end their lives with the greatest of ease. Done and done.

GamePad = Game Changer

The Wii U GamePad allows the player to operate Sam’s plethora of gadgets including the tri-rotor, sticky cam, and snake cam. Additionally, the GamePad works wonders for switching weapons and selecting gadgets with a simple screen tap. The Wii U version definitely provides a unique experience giving players the sense of having Sam’s gadgets in their hands.

Multiplayer Has Some Rough Spots

Unfortunately, the Wii U version is missing the off-line co-op game mode. While this isn’t a deal breaker for me, I can certainly understand people being upset by the missing feature. That being said, you still have several online gaming modes including Co-Op and Spies vs. Mercs.

Spies vs. Mercs Modes

  • Training Grounds – A place for new players to learn the ropes against other newbies.
  • SvM Classic – Mercs defend terminals while Spies try to hack them. No customization is allowed.
  • SvM Blacklist – Mercs defend terminals while Spies try to hack them. Up to 8 players and customization is allowed.
  • Extraction – Spies defend intelligence and Mercs try to extract it. Up to 8 players.
  • Uplink – Two teams try to control the uplinks until transmissions are complete. Up to 6 players.
  • Team Deathmatch – Two teams try to kill each other. Up to 8 players.

Multiplayer certainly has its place in Splinter Cell Blacklist, but my experience was coupled with a wall of frustration. The Wii U froze on more than one occasion, forcing me to unplug the console and reboot. It’s worth noting the Wii U has yet to freeze up during the single player campaign.

Painful Load Times

Multiplayer woes aside, the only other complaint I have would be the dreaded loading screen. Regardless of booting up the game to the title screen or continuing the campaign, players will wait for 1-2 minutes for each screen to load. While that might not seem like too long, I found myself losing interest in playing and wanting to take a break between missions. The actual gameplay missions are rather lengthy with almost zero load screens once the missions are underway. Sadly, after an intense getaway or cutscene, the load screen lull can turn the experience into a total buzzkill.

Splinter Cell Blacklist Action

Final Thoughts

Splinter Cell Blacklist brings stealth gameplay to a whole new level. The idea of playing the entire 12+ hour campaign while moving undetected and using non-lethal force blows me away. While that is a feat I could never accomplish, it’s exciting to know there are others out there who can. At the same time, I’m pleased with the amount of freedom I have to approach each mission the best way I see fit. Stealth has never been my forte, in fact, Sam might as well be wearing a cow bell with me at the helm. On the plus side, my run and gun style has a place in Blacklist once the enemies are alerted to my presence.

There were a few occasions when the audio didn’t sync-up with the character’s mouths, which is unfortunate, but again not a deal breaker. Even after combining the missing offline co-op component with the ridiculous load times, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I still had a blast. I will admit to missing the voice talent of Michael Ironside, but getting used to the new Sam Fisher wasn’t nearly as difficult as expected. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Splinter Cell games and I’m happy to say I love this one.

Presentation: 8

Gameplay: 9

Replay: 8.5


This review is based on a retail copy of the Wii U version of Splinter Cell Blacklist provided by Ubisoft.

Geek Legacy’s review scores are on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest possible score.

This review is part of Geek Legacy’s Wii U WheelHouse campaign. Our goal is to provide insight into all the great games Nintendo’s Wii U has to offer.

Follow Justin on Twitter @Edgyarmo for fun and festive tweets.

    • Jamarcus

      Glad to see Splinter Cell isn’t dead in really looking forward to getting this.

    • Kilay

      Great read. I’m glad someone is showing love to the amazing WiiU

    • Billy

      Just picked it up and this game rules. My favorite Splinter Cell game since the N64 days.

    • Stephen

      Splinter Cell has always been my favorite stealth game. Hopefully this game will pull the franchise out of the depths of mediocrity.

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