GAME Lock-in: Sneaking out with Sam Fisher Richard Berry 28 July, 2013 Features, Previews The slick elements from Conviction make a return For some a Friday is the night to hit the town and spend the evening drinking yourself into a state of numbness but for me and a few lucky gamers we headed to our local GAME to spend the evening in the company of Sam Fisher and his newest adventure, Splinter Cell: Blacklist. In true GAME style plenty of staff were on hand to chat and talk games as well as take a few sneaky pre-orders from those that succumbed to the joys of Blacklist. Drinks, pizza and some ace Blacklist lanyards were also distributed to attendees but the best freebie was reserved for those that pre-ordered on the night – a USB stick shaped as Sam’s pistol, very cool! There were eight units set up running a full copy of the game, we were allowed unrestricted access to the campaign starting right at the beginning. Immediately it struck me that Blacklist has slight overtones of the recent Tomb Raider, with cutscenes and gameplay stimulating similar feelings in you – graphically I was more taken with Tomb Raider, but that’s not to say that Blacklist doesn’t look great! Missions begin from the comfort of your safe house which happens to be a huge cargo plane. Here you can access a mission map and roam the interior of your aircraft – think Mass Effect’s Normandy. By accessing your “star map” you can jump into the campaign or take to the online Spies Vs. Mercs. The plane may also be upgraded by spending in-game money that can be collected and earnt, by upgrading the plane you can unlock extra perks for Sam which can be helpful when you get into the thick of the game. Cover mechanics are really smooth The gameplay of Blacklist is smooth, so smooth that you won’t even notice obvious differences in the play styles – rather than forcing you to play in obvious ways, you are left to play how you want to, it’s only after you complete a level that you may realise that you’ve just played through a level in one of the three styles that Ubisoft have identified: Ghost, Panther or Assault. Moving in and out of cover worked quickly and easily making navigation joyful and detection easier to avoid and escape from. Later, sniffer dogs are introduced which will make you mix up your play style and your hiding positions as they follow your scent to seek you out. Your ‘Normandy” is a large Cargo plane Even from my short time with Blacklist it’s clear to see that the game builds upon the excellent gameplay of Conviction and for me, had a sense of Hitman Absolution about it. With more gadgets to play with, various grenades, non lethal and lethal weapons to use, fans will find plenty to love about Blacklist and if you’re a Splinter Cell veteran, hardcore mode will certain tick all your boxes! As ever, the guys and gals of GAME Norwich were extremely welcoming and it’s always great to chat with the local community of gamers that attend lock-ins. I also finally pre-ordered my Xbox One as did a mate who didn’t know he’d be doing so that evening (apologies Lee). Thanks to GAME and GAME Norwich for putting together these great events and the team led by @MooPhace for bringing the game along. Word is there is a pretty exciting GAME event happening next Friday so keep an eye out for an official announcement. [UPDATE]: Assassin’s Creed IV and Watch_Dogs live demo being shown on Thursday and Friday in eight GAME stores. Check out the Facebook album from the evening.