A huge tizzy has been made about Splinter Cell: Blacklist, the latest in the stealth espionage series. Early fan reaction was less than pleased with announcement trailers featuring Sam Fisher blasting his way indiscriminately through enemy camps in broad daylight. The fact that he is in a desert sings even more of mass market pandering.

After the last game received lukewarm reception thanks to its completely revamped mechanics and less focus on actual stealth, fans are concerned that the latest game ventures even further from the series’ origins.

Not to worry, though. Ubisoft has promised that there are more ways of approaching Blacklist than just blasting every fool in sight. As with most big games these days, that’s certainly an option but not the only route. The latest trailer shows off a “Non-Lethal Variety” approach to a mission, which, yes, does take place in a darkened environment.

The game’s animation director points out that Sam has a move for every situation he finds himself in, each capable of taking down an enemy without ending his life. There doesn’t seem to be all the gadgets and gizmos of the original trilogy. No shadow meters or sound radar, but Ubisoft has heard you and is trying to find a happy balance between the old and the new.

As I never really played the original Splinter Cell games back in the day, I did enjoy Conviction for what it was: a shallow stealth game with a heavy emphasis on taking cover. I’ve gone back and played the original Splinter Cell games since then, and I can definitely see where the fans have a beef with the recent shallow approach the series has taken. Unfortunately, games like Chaos Theory are way too complicated to easily survive in a modern, crowded market, so this is the only real way forward for a new game with such a massive budget.

Still, Blacklist looks like a step up from Conviction and some points are being addressed. Don’t write it off totally just yet. It is due for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC sometime next Spring.

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