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Splinter Cell Blacklist Interview With Maxime Beland

Tom Hopkins


Ubisoft's Maxime Beland, Creative Director, talks about the upcoming Splinter Cell Blacklist.

Published on Jul 3, 2012

How far in the future is Splinter Cell: Blacklist set? Fisher is now the head of Fourth Echelon – but what exactly does that mean for the gameplay? Also: Fisher looks quite a bit younger, what was the decision for this aesthetic change?
A couple of years ago, we decided we weren’t going to focus on specific years and timelines in the Splinter Cell franchise.  With our story taking place in the modern day, Sam Fisher continues to be the experienced and mature hero in Blacklist. Advancements and innovation in performance capture technology have given us the opportunity to create a highly immersive and realistic game for our fans. The performance capture technology we are incorporating in Blacklist renders a 1:1 model of our actor.  Because of this, Sam Fisher appears a little more youthful – but he’s still an experienced and deadly elite operative.  We feel confident fans will think so too once they have a chance to get their hands on this game.

The gameplay demo you showed at E3 was heavy on the action-side of Splinter Cell - is this representative of the whole game? Is there still a market for stealth-based action games?
Absolutely there is still a market for stealth-based games and gameplay, and we continue to see some of the biggest games now showcasing stealth elements. With Splinter Cell Blacklist, we’ve listened to our fans and are providing a wide variety of gameplay styles. Gamers will have the freedom to choose their play style – they can ghost through levels employing stealth maneuvers such as abductions and non-lethal take downs, they can choose to tank the map with a vast artillery of weapons and explosives, or they can play a combination of stealth and action  (codename : the Panther)  

Will Blacklist go down the ‘multiple-choice’ route and enable players to approach missions in different ways? How about branching narratives? If not, why?

Most of the maps feature a sandbox type experience and players will be able to choose where they go and how they navigate each mission. This is the multi-path level design Splinter Cell is famous for. Given the scope and variety of the game, we’re not offering branching narratives. It’s an opportunity for us to offer true moral choices to the player during interrogation scenes. These moral choices enhance the experience of being Sam Fisher, the ultimate special operative, however these choices will not affect the outcome of the game.


Sam Fisher's new found athleticism is down to the accuracy of the motion capture says Beland.

We saw Fisher’s new athleticism and free-running abilities during E3 - what’s your response to suggestions Blacklist is a “modern-day Assassin’s Creed”?
As game creators we are always inspired by the best games out there, and we are fortunate enough to work for a company that creates some of the leading games in the business. I wanted Sam to have fluid navigation and we’ve completely rebuilt how Sam moves through his world and his enemies. Once the player masters moves like Killing In Motion, they will be able to play seamlessly through the environment, taking out enemies quickly and efficiently.

What has the Splinter Cell team learnt from the success of the Assassin’s Creed franchise in development/franchise building/gameplay terms?

At Ubisoft we collaborate and support each other to push all our games further.  It’s really the beauty of working for a global creative company like Ubisoft.  Assassin’s Creed does an excellent job building a consistent and compelling game universe that expands successfully beyond the console game into mobile, web, comics, books and even film with last year’s Embers.  We certainly look to model that success with Splinter Cell as we expand our own game universe in a connected and integrated way that will really excite fans of the franchise.

How will you keep PS3 players up to date with the story given Splinter Cell: Conviction has yet to arrive on PS3?
Splinter Cell Blacklist is a gripping, realistic story ripped from today’s headlines that can be enjoyed as a standalone game even if it’s your first Sam Fisher experience.  We purposely designed the narrative in a way that would allow anyone to jump right into the series.  We do have nods to Conviction for fans of the series, alongside other classic references to the Splinter Cell canon – and we feel these will definitely keep the fans engaged and immersed in the Blacklist story.

Will classic franchise elements, such as split-jumping and body moving return?
Body moving is back in Splinter Cell Blacklist.  Fans will also enjoy the twists on franchise classics such as our innovation with the sticky shocker.  In addition, the most requested feature by fans will see its return with Blacklist.  That’s right - Spies Vs. Mercs is back and we can’t wait to show you more in the months to come.

Splinter Cell Blacklist is out next year, in the meantime check out our latest preview.

 

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