Thursday, October 3, 2013
Tom Clancy leaves legacy of fantastic video games in his name
If future Clancy games can maintain the quality of Blacklist, the great author’s name is in good hands.
Wednesday, news broke that bestselling (no, legendary) author Tom Clancy died at the age of 66. It’s a big loss for fans of military fiction, but even if you’ve never read any of his books, you probably know some of his work. He leaves a legacy of fantastic films and high-quality video games.
I’ve been meaning to write about the newest Splinter Cell game for a few weeks. Today feels like a weirdly appropriate time. See, I’ve actually only read a few Clancy novels, including many Net Force books that he co-created (even if he didn’t pen them himself). Most of my exposure to Clancy’s world comes from the long line of video games that began with the PC classic Rainbow Six. In recent years, Ubisoft’s ownership of the “Tom Clancy’s” name (yes, seriously) has led to a few low spots and a bit of dilution of the brand, but for the most part some really great video games have had Clancy’s as part of the title. Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six Vegas, not to mention the excitement surrounding the next-generation action game The Division. But one of the brightest spots, in my opinion, has been the Splinter Cell series.
The last game in the series, Conviction, was easily one of my favorites. That wasn’t the unanimous sentiment of the more action-heavy experience, but I loved a lot of what the game did. It still rewarded stealth, but allowed for some more brutality as well. Still, a lot of people wanted the sneakier, more gadget-focus Sam Fisher.
Blacklist makes both people happy. It offers plenty of options for dealing with different encounters and has rewards for varying play styles. So whether you want to sneak past all enemies undetected, kill everybody in your path or use a combination of the two methods, there’s something for everybody to like. Guns never blaze too much — you don’t exactly run through levels with machine guns roaring as scores of enemies fall at your feet — but there is still enough potential for action to keep you happy if you hate being too slow and sneaky.
The co-op missions are a good showcase for this. I played the entirety of Conviction's cooperative campaign with my dad, who is much more careful and methodical than me. That game already played well to our varying styles, but Blacklist lets us compliment each other better through new upgrade paths and equipment choices. It’s also more closely tied to the main story, as opposed to being a completely separate thing like it was last time. Whether I’m playing with him or alone, I feel like I can play my way.
Going back to stealth isn’t the only thing Blacklist brought back for longtime fans, though. The popular Spies vs. Mercs online multiplayer mode is back and continues to be awesome. And if you want to talk about the divide between action and stealth, you will definitely see it here, as the mercenary team is more about using heavy weaponry to solve problems while the team of spies is all about staying quiet. I’m not always the biggest fan of multiplayer modes, but this one is fun.
Ultimately, Blacklist is a terrific balance of Splinter Cells old and new, and as the most recent game to bear the now-late Clancy’s name, it’s good that the series is currently on such a high note. If future Clancy games can maintain the quality of this one, then the great author’s name is in good hands.