Splinter Cell: Blacklist - Introducing the New and Improved Sam Fisher

E3 2012: Sam Fisher shows off some skills both familiar and new in the Microsoft press conference demo for Splinter Cell: Blacklist.

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Sam Fisher is back, though he's not quite the same Sam Fisher you remember. For one, he's no longer voiced by actor Michael Ironside. Perhaps more importantly, he appears to have become a significantly more agile and speedy killing machine than he's ever been before.

During today's Microsoft press conference at E3 2012, Ubisoft revealed Splinter Cell: Blacklist. The demonstrated level took place on the Iran-Iraq border and found Fisher hunting for a terrorist leader. It started out quietly, with a disguised Sam carrying a body into a medical tent. As the men in the tent looked over the body, Sam took the opportunity to mark two of the three men for execution, which was designated by a chevron above them, as in Splinter Cell: Conviction. When the third man approached Sam, he grabbed him and quickly dispatched the two marked men. His attempts to interrogate the remaining man about his target's whereabouts didn't yield results, and a sickening crunch of bones being broken was heard as the Ubisoft logo was displayed.

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The next few minutes showcased a number of gameplay features. Sam still has visual abilities; at one point, he scanned his surroundings briefly, seeing through tents and revealing enemy positions. His ability to stealthily dispose of enemies appears more brutal than ever; a disturbing and believable spray of blood marked the interior of a tent as he withdrew his blade from a victim's neck. He still has handy gadgets, as demonstrated by his use of a snake cam at one point to see under a door into the next room.

Sam is now the head of the Fourth Echelon (not the Third Echelon of earlier Splinter Cell games), and via a Kinect-powered voice command, the player harnessed the Echelon's power to call in a strike on an enemy position. The Kinect was also used during a stealth kill; while hanging from a ledge, the player called out, "Hey, you!" getting the enemy's attention and then yanking him to his death. This functionality could provide plenty of comic relief opportunities, if it allows you to shout whatever words or make whatever noises you want to in order to lure enemies to you.

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But easily the most impressive part of the demo came when Fisher marked three enemies from behind cover, then charged out and shot them all in a fluid motion, strangled another enemy, slid across the roof of a vehicle and eliminated a few more enemies. It was a virtuoso display of speedy, efficient killing that was most impressive for the way in which it all flowed together. Following this sequence, Sam continued to demonstrate new talents, scrambling up a rock wall as if he had just stepped out of an Assassin's Creed game.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist is slated for release in the spring of 2013. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more coverage of the game from E3 2012.

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