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Video Game / Splinter Cell: Blacklist

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Splinter Cell: Blacklist (or Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist) is an action-stealth game and the sixth entry in the Splinter Cell series, released in 2013 on Seventh Generation consoles and PC.

The story takes place six months after Splinter Cell: Conviction. Sam Fisher is now the head of a new clandestine organization that works directly for the President of the United States - Fourth Echelon. Meanwhile, several of America's enemies have banded together to give the US an ultimatum: remove any and all American military presence in their countries or they will launch "the Blacklist", a series of escalating terrorist attacks on US targets.

The gameplay is similar to Conviction, but with more stealthy moves and faster action. The game is also notable for being the first in the series not to have Sam Fisher be voiced by Michael Ironside, for he had health issues that prevented him from reprising it. Fisher was voiced by Eric Johnson instead. Ironside would return in 2018 to voice Sam in a DLC for Ghost Recon Wildlands.

This game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Aborted Arc: Megiddo, the shadowy organization working behind the scenes in Conviction, is only mentioned in Blacklist. They do not play any role whatsoever.
  • Abnormal Ammo: Sam's crossbow can fire EMP chaffs, sticky shockers and sleeping gas.
  • Action-Based Mission:
    • "Transit Yards". It is notably the only mission without a Undetected check, having a shootout at the very beginning of the level, two FPS sections as Briggs, and forced detections and shootouts at the very end of the level. While the beginning shootout, FPS sections and the middle part of the level as Sam are possible to sneak through (Though tough due to it being a daylight mission and mines being everywhere in the middle Sam section), the ending section is not, and you have to knock out or kill a certain amount of enemies in combat in it.
    • Charlie's side missions focus on killing or knocking out huge waves of enemies with few hiding spots, the enemies already being on alert, and more and tougher enemies as the Mission goes on and you progress through the waves. Briggs' side missions too, with a UAV section at the end of Smuggler's Compound that is almost impossible to sneak through (The only way being to make sure whoever is currently controlling the UAV doesn't fire a single shot, and the player on the ground carefully picking off the snipers, dogs and sentries with gas bolts and proximity shockers while moving forward and hiding as best as they can from everything else), the second half of Missile Plant requiring you to knock out or kill a huge number of enemies, the scrapyard at beginning of Voron Station being very hard to get through Undetected (The first sections having two dogs and a lot of guards in a small enclosed area, and the second having multiple guards and Heavies that need to be killed or knocked out to progress including a HVT, with both sections having a huge number reinforcements if you get detected. The rest of the level is fairly easy to sneak through, though), and Abandoned City outright forcing you to get detected and gun down waves of enemies at the end of it (Despite the level having Undetected and Non-Lethal checks, they are impossible to achieve due to this).
  • Actionized Sequel: The game was at first shaping up to be even more of this than Conviction, with a variety of new offensive moves such as running "Executes", but it also features more stealthy options to accommodate, ample opportunity to stealth one's way through every level without being seen or so much as killing a single person like in games of old and an added Perfectionist difficulty that takes away melees from the front and Mark & Execute.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: The final level has the player controlling Briggs for the first half — which is only revealed once he reaches Sadiq and reveals his identity after being captured.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The game takes place around the holiday season. One mission in particular has you infiltrating a shopping mall. Bonus points for the cheery little Christmas song that plays when you're slitting terrorists' throats.
  • Badass Crew: Sam assembles a team of elite operatives from several different agencies.
  • Badass in Distress: Sam is poisoned during one of the infiltration missions (at the Abandoned Mill), prompting Briggs to head in himself and rescue him.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: In the "Transit Yards" mission, Sam tails Sadiq's lieutenant into a subway station, wherein the lieutenant takes a Human Shield. An on-duty officer, who has no knowledge of what has happened, threatens the lieutenant and then shoots him in the head (despite Sam telling him not to, while also pointing a gun at the lieutenant), and then decides to arrest the man in a black-ops suit wearing specialized goggles on his head. His behavior is lampshaded in the next scene, when Charlie (who is talking to Sam after he's released from the station) calls the officer "Philadelphia's finest".
    • It can also be seen more like "uninformed cop." From the cop's perspective, the lieutenant was a terrorist in the middle of a terrorist attack who was holding a gun on an innocent hostage, and the only one telling him not to shoot was someone in tactical gear with no official identification.
  • Batman Gambit: The Engineers declare that they will carry out terrorist attacks until all American troops abroad are taken home. Sadiq correctly predicts that the US command will not comply to the orders, but will try to prevent the attacks, by evacuating the Secretary of Defense to a bunker in Denver. This move allows Sadiq to extract American nuclear weapon codes, which is his actual objective.
  • Beating A Dead Player: Enemies will continue to shoot your corpse long after you are dead.
  • Competitive Balance: Players are given flexibility with their playstyle, appeasing both pre- and post-Conviction fans. Player score is determined by three areas: invoked
    • Ghost: focuses on remaining hidden and non-lethal/indirect assaults. Effectively a swift version of the old approaches.
    • Panther: with specialties in flanking and outsmarting, and lethal attacks. Akin to the aggressive but quiet approaches introduced in Chaos Theory and Double Agent.
    • Assault: which sacrifices stealth for a risky-but-powerful approaches. Favors the Conviction fans, but fixes several issues it held.
  • Counting Bullets: Played with. When Sadiq has Sam held hostage during the "Abandoned Mill" mission, Briggs assumes that the former's weapon (a Makarov) only has one round left in the chamber, and tells him as such. Sadiq pulls the trigger anyway, but his mag is empty. Sadiq then mocks Briggs for being wrong before running away.
  • Defiant to the End: Subverted. The Secretary of Defense is defiant for a time, but eventually breaks under torture.
  • Determinator: Showcased especially when, against all recommendations and fears, Sam poisons himself with VX nerve gas to place a tracker, and continues fighting his way through the remainder of the ensuing mission while insisting that he is fine, even berating Briggs for saving him instead of killing Sadiq.
  • Developer's Foresight: During Briggs' rescue of the poisoned Sam at the Abandoned Mill, the resulting cutscene when Briggs drags him out to the roof for treatment and extraction plays out slightly differently based on what weapon Sam was holding when the player last controlled him — if it was a lethal weapon, Briggs fires backwards and kills one of the pursuing Engineers, while the animations and style are different if a non-lethal weapon (like the sleeping gas crossbow) was equipped.
  • Downloadable Content:
    • The High Power Pack DLC comes with an assortment of additional single-player weapons, including a AC S12 Shotgun,GC36C Assault Rifle, MP5-10 SMG, PP-19 Black Market SMG and a USP45 Hand Gun. Interestingly, these weapons are geared more towards players who favor the Assault / Panther playstyles, as opposed to the Ghost style.
    • The Homeland DLC includes two additional single-player (or co-op) maps (Dead Coast and Billionaire's Yacht), a useful non-lethal crossbow with sleeping gas bolts, a variety of additional cosmetic / clothing options and more.
    • The Deluxe Edition DLC bundles all of the aforementioned DLC packs in, along with exclusive suit accessories for Sam, four additional weapons, three extra skins for the Spies vs. Mercs mode and more.
  • Elite Mooks: The commando enemy type. They wear thermal goggles, allowing them to spot you very easily. They can also use you as a human shield.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Engineers are mentioned to be borderless. While most of the higher-ups are Arabs, their leader is British, and the regular mercenaries include Americans, British, Iranians, Mexicans, and Russians. While you don't encounter any female Engineers in-game, it is implied in the Gone Dark missions that female Engineers do exist.
  • Evil Brit:
    • Sadiq, the leader of the Engineers.
    • The Mooks in Abandoned Mill and Hawkins Seafort all have British accents.
  • Foreshadowing: In the final mission, the hooded operative not only doesn't sound like Sam when he's climbing up walls, but his kill/knockout animations are different. This is because the player character is Briggs, not Sam.
  • Final Boss: Blacklist has an extremely similar ending fight to Double Agent (Version Two) with Sadiq, right down to Sam losing his weapon and having to use the environment to evade the boss for a bit.
  • Fingore: Subverted. In the final mission, Sadiq orders one of his men to cut off the U.S. Secretary of Defense's finger in order to compel him to give up vital information. When he comes back after a few minutes, the henchman has instead cut off the man's whole hand, causing Sadiq to chastize his soldier and stop the bleeding.
  • Gameplay Grading: The post-mission score (and subsequent funding) is split up into three categories with you getting mastery for one when you get enough points for it: Assault, which you get points for by killing or knocking out enemies in loud aggressive firefights, Panther, which you get for silently killing enemies and sneaking past them once they have been alerted, and Ghost, which you get by bypassing enemies altogether without alerting them and silently knocking enemies out.
  • Harder Than Hard: The promised Perfectionist difficulty is a return to classic stealth play, removing melees from the front and Mark & Execute, as well as disabling the ability to use weapon stashes to resupply.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Andriy Kobin. He even becomes an official team member at the end of the game.
  • Hellish Copter: The prologue mission begins with Sam and Vic's chopper being hit with the force of a massive explosion and crashing just outside the perimeter of an army base.
  • New Meat: Subverted with Briggs. At the beginning of the game, he's a new recruit from Langley who provides overwatch for Sam during missions, and later gets chewed out by Sam for choosing to save the latter's life instead of pursuing Sadiq. By the end of the game, however, he's a fully-realized Splinter Cell, to the point that he's the player character during the final mission, and even goes as far as to exercise the Fifth Freedom to kill the United States Secretary of Defense.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: In universe, Sadiq simply refuses to believe that Briggs would kill the Secretary of Defense in cold blood. He's wrong.
  • No-Gear Level:
    • In the latter half of the Abandoned Mill mission, Sam loses most of his gear and gadgets after being captured by Sadiq. When Briggs arrives to rescue him, all Sam has is his sidearm, secondary weapon (if he brought one) and a stun gun.
    • When Sam infiltrates a prison by disguising himself as a prisoner, he is armed only with a stun gun slipped to him by Briggs. He has no goggles, no HUD, and no other weapons until recovering his gear.
    • The last section of "Site F" has Sam (who is only armed with his karambit knife) take on Sadiq in a snowy airfield.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • During the end credits, Sam and Vic discuss an incident where Sam almost bought an elephant while they were serving a tour of duty. Charlie asks them why they wanted to buy an elephant, and Sam responds with, "It was a long time ago."
    • The introduction played in the lobby of Transit Yards includes Charlie telling an unknown speaker how he's got source code to help him in hacking. The speaker's response is "This better not be like that time you said you had root access to that bank in Sweden.", to which Charlie backfires with "C'mon, now why you gotta go bringing that up?"
  • No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: Notably averted — unlike Conviction, Blacklist rewards the player for choosing to search around the level or try alternate paths, via "Exploration" bonuses.
  • Not Quite Dead: Kestrel, the Russian agent from the co-op campaign in Conviction, is revealed to be this, having been placed in an induced coma by Voron as a form of punishment in-between the games. The end of the associated co-op side-mission chain results in Sam and Briggs rescuing said character and bringing him back to the Paladin for medical treatment, though he still isn't awake by the end of the campaign.
  • Pet the Dog: As part of his Heel–Face Turn, Kobin expresses concern and sympathy for what happened to Kestrel after the latter is rescued at the end of the co-op campaign, even though he's the one who shot and delivered the agent to the Voron militia in the first place.
  • Post-End Game Content: Unlike the prior entries in the series, the player can continue the game after the campaign is completed. You can talk to each of your crew members on the Paladin for an extra post-campaign conversation, as well as finish any leftover side missions.
  • Take a Third Option: When confronted with the choice to put Sadiq on trial (allowing him to spill innumerable secrets about the US) or kill him (which would anger the Engineers' backers and start 'twelve wars'), Sam takes him prisoner using Fifth Freedom. With no body to identify him by or official trial during which to spill his secrets, all Sadiq has to look forward to is a long and miserable death in an interrogation area in Gitmo...
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Discussed in the ending; President Caldwell notes in an address that the individuals who saved the U.S. will never be identified, but their exploits will be remembered.
  • Took a Level in Badass: As a result of the Engineers' attack in the opening mission, Sam (a highly-decorated black-ops agent) is placed in charge of Fourth Echelon, and leads his own crew while still personally taking part in missions.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The player controls Briggs during the Philadelphia mission as he attempts to disarm two of the four Blacklist bombs. This sequence is played from a first-person perspective (even though it switches back to third-person in transitional moments like climbing ladders). Briggs also doesn't have any of Sam's equipment or tactical functions, despite wearing a similar pair of goggles. He is also controlled for a brief Sniping Mission.
  • Unlockable Content: Several suits and weapons will be unlocked onboard the Paladin if the various side mission chains (Grim, Briggs, Charlie or Kobin) are completed. Additionally, pieces of concept art can be unlocked if the player searches through the aircraft for intel.
  • Unwanted Assistance: In-universe, Sam chews out Briggs for choosing to save his life instead of pursuing and capturing Sadiq at the abandoned mill. To that end, he benches Briggs until Grim has to call him back up to provide exfil for Sam during the Special Missions HQ op.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: Blacklist is the first in the series to provide completely-cosmetic choices for Sam's outfit, with various DLC suits having nothing more than slight pattern variations (that provide no camo bonus whatsoever), the ability to choose things such as the suit lights, and alternate headgear and accessory options, in a manner similar to Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.
  • With This Herring: Averted and played straight. President Caldwell hands Sam and Grim the Paladin, a heavily-modified transport plane that boasts top-of-the-line equipment and is fully staffed. However, you don't get any gear besides your default suit and pistol at the beginning of the game, and any upgrades you buy for the plane (including an upgraded medbay, radar and all of your additional weapons/equipment) have to be purchased with funds you acquire through the course of the campaign.
  • Worst Aid: Averted and inverted. If you choose to spare the Engineer commander at the end of the Louisiana mission, Sam does not pull out the metal rod that has impaled him in the gut, but rather walks away and tells Grim to call a medic for him. On the flip side, Sam does pull it out if the "kill" choice is taken.