The moment I saw Splinter Cell: Blacklist, I thought it was a game that showed a ton of potential, so when I finally managed to get my hands on the game for the Wii U, I was happy to find out that the game indeed turned out to be about as good as I hoped.
Nevermind that I thought the story was the stuff of movies, and was interesting till the end, but it's the freedom to do whatever it takes to get an objective accomplished, that made this game hard to put down. There were times where I was trying to sneak around to a specific area, but was met by guards who were on the lookout for anything that moved. When presented with such a scenario, I could decide to stay stealthy and knock him out cold then hide him. Or I could slice his neck then throw him off a balcony; I could shoot him in the face, or I could whistle him over and then take him hostage. It's the ability to make these sorts of decisions that opened up all sorts of possibilities and kept me coming back for more.
Despite the previous entry in the franchise's (Conviction) lack of stealthy action, Blacklist gets players back into the series' bread and butter. Levels have lots of ledges, backdoor entries, shadows and just an overall, nicely laid out structure that lets you get creative with how you want to handle situations. Just for kicks, I tried going all balls-to-the-wall with a couple of missions, and tried shooting everything that moved. I found that the aiming and auto locking features worked well, but the difficulty of getting things done in this manner, proved to be tough. Needless to say it's to Sam Fisher's benefit if you mix stealth with action, as to keep him alive.
Playing through the game, you'll get scores after each mission depending on a variety of stats and what play style you chose to follow. This scoring system gets you achievements and ranks you accordingly, which increases replayability, while also assisting with your ability to customize Sam. You can retrofit him with all sorts of outfits, upgrade and tweak weapons and get access to cooler gadgets.
As for the game's campaign, the plot kicks off when Sam Fisher and his buddy Victor Coste are in Guam and are on their way out when the base is attacked by an enemy of unknown origins. After escaping thanks to a hacker, who joins their cause, a terrorist group takes responsibility for the attack and warns of a countdown by which more attacks are coming, dubbed The Blacklist. If the U.S. doesn't pull out its troops from abroad, the group, called "The Engineers" will continue their attacks.
Though you'll play a large portion of the game in single-player, there's also co-op missions to be had, only a few of which require two players, but provide enough missions that you'll forget you're still playing the same game. Seriously, there is a lot of co-op action to be enjoyed and I applaud Ubisoft for adding this much extra content. Though many of them can be played by just one player, they can be difficult going solo, and quite frankly, just aren't as entertaining when trying to complete them on your own.
For those who will enjoy this game on the Wii U, you'll likely appreciate what the Gamepad brings to the table. From the extra screen, you'll be able to change your loadouts with the tap of an icon, while there are missions, such as one where you are calling in sniper shots from the Gamepad's screen, that are too cool.
Though the Wii U is still lacking in third party titles compared to its competition, Splinter Cell: Blacklist is a must-have title for anyone with the Wii U in their living room. For those who decide to check the game out on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, you'll find yet another solid game in the Splinter Cell series, and easily one of the best ones to date.
Final Score: 4.5 out of 5