Splinter Cell Blacklist Conclusion
RATING DISCLAIMER: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, be advised that every author perceives these factors differently. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer revisions that occur after publication which could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on this conclusion, as it represents our rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
The Unreal Engine 2.5 has been around since 2004, so it’s had plenty of time to be tweaked and optimized for best performance. This translates into fast frame rates for even the most meek of video cards, and scalable graphics quality for gamers with the latest hardware. My best experience was seen using custom settings that include Tessellation as well as Field AO & HBAO+ lighting. Solo campaigns were made realistic using NVIDIA TXAA combined with maximum (Ultra) shadow quality, while the pitch-black online Spies vs. Mercs maps were better off with low-quality shadows.
Despite NVIDIA’s best efforts to improve Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist, ultimately it was up to Ubisoft to develop decent textures and employ modern graphical effects. The dichotomy of these forces are best illustrated in the scene below, where Sam’s sculpted features and detailed weapon crouch beside a table with some of the worst looking bottles and lemon slices you’ve ever seen. The bottom line is that Ubisoft didn’t put as much effort into the game’s graphics as it focused on the story, and it shows.
Writers have argued for years about what makes a video game successful. Most will agree that a game has to be fun, first and foremost, or it won’t get played. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist should be a very fun game to play by design, but in execution the player’s experience certainly differs. Nobody likes their game to crash, repeatedly, before a match starts or as you’re about to complete the mission. Gamers have even less patience for these things, especially after installing a huge 1.7 GB self-titled “Day 1 Patch” followed by a second 484 MB patch only days later. This relegates ‘fun’ gameplay to those moments in-between crashes or when you can play a multiplayer match to completion.
As of September 2013, the Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist video game is available online for $59.99 (DVD or Digital Download: Amazon). This seems to be the going price for all new video games, regardless of the effort put into making them, so value depends on what’s delivered in the game. Considering how immature the finished product is, the price seems better fitted for those titles that actual deliver a stable game at retail launch. Splinter Cell Blacklist isn’t one of those titles.
Lucky for Ubisoft that NVIDIA stepped in to improve graphics, or the aging UE2.5 game engine would be a much bigger issue. The solo campaigns feature beautiful scenery and a myriad of choices that make them very entertaining, so long as the game itself doesn’t crash right as you complete a mission. With limited players split across six different multiplayer modes (counting coop), I won’t suggest this game to anyone wanting online action. Multiplayer mode is not balanced, and when your team is winning a round the game seldom reaches the end before the losing ‘host’ shuts down the entire match. There are better games out there that deserve the full retail asking price, so wait for this one to hit the discount bin… maybe by then there will be enough patches released to make this game stable.
+ Colorful map location scenery
+ Enjoyable solo campaign story
+ Plenty of weapon customization
+ Coop missions and gameplay perks
+ Good performance on DX11 cards
+ NVIDIA TXAA improves visual quality
– Uses aging game engine
– Rough graphics with few special effects
– Online multiplayer plagued with problems
– Retail alpha version: too many bugs
– Unstable after patching
– Rage-quitting host ends match
Final Score: 7.95 out of 10.
COMMENT QUESTION: What is your favorite Tom Clancy game or book?