It’s been almost 10 whole years since Sam Fisher last went on a stealth mission in Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist. Despite his hiatus from stealthily killing bad guys and skulking around in his famed nightvision goggles, we’ll getting him on current-gen consoles in the form of a remake of the original game, which Ubisoft announced last year.
The remake of Splinter Cell will use Ubisoft’s Snowdrop engine which is also being used to develop Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora, and an untitled Star Wars game. When asked what makes it a remake and not a remaster, Producer Matt West said “To me, a remake takes what you’d do in a remaster and goes a little bit further with it. The original Splinter Cell has a lot that was amazing and revolutionary at the time it came out, 19 years ago. The gaming public now has an even more refined palate. So, I think it kind of has to be a remake as opposed to a remaster.”
The crew also discussed the importance the game’s stealth mechanic will play in the remake. Creative Director Chris Autry used the term ‘Be a ghost’ when discussing the core gameplay. I have to say this is a no-brainer, as Sam Fisher’s tactics makes him the Batman of Black Ops. As as series, Splinter Cell forced me – a lifelong run-and-gun gamer – to really understand the importance of stealth-based play and I am grateful for it.
While a remake might not be what every Splinter Cell fan wanted, the truth is that in today’s Fisher-starved world it’s better than nothing. Plus if you look at some of the later comments made by the leads, they mention this remake will be the foundation of the series’ future, which leads me to believe the crew over at Ubisoft Toronto have a plan to remake, reboot, and reinvent the series that many have come to know and love over the past 20 years. When a game series lies dormant for this long, then yet-another sequel becomes arbitrary, and the best thing to do is to start with a remake and build from there.
A remake is an opportunity for Ubisoft create an experience longtime fans know and love, while introducing new fans to one of the most iconic characters of the 2000s. There should of course be a few new twists, turns, and in-game experiences. One of my favorite games in the series is Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Double Agent, where Sam must go undercover as a criminal in order to infiltrate a U.S-based terrorist group. It added some depth and substance to the character, a few new mechanics, and did a great job of shaking up a formula that was starting to grow staid.
Despite my love for Double Agent, going back to where it all started is the right move. It’s important to remember that because of the distance between the games, Ubisoft did not really have much of a choice. Blacklist sold 2 million copies in 2013, but failed to live up to the company’s sales expectations. So Ubisoft really only had two choices in the aftermath of that: make another game in hopes that it made up for Blacklist’s failures, or put Fisher on ice and wait for fans to build up demand for his return. They went for the latter.
One of the worst things a video game company can do is oversaturate the market and put out multiple sequels of a series year after year. While Call of Duty sells millions every year and crushes sales for EA, it is a totally different game to Splinter Cell, mostly carried by its online multiplayer. For a while, Splinter Cell seemed to going down the path to dilution, and Ubisoft made the right call to break the cycle. A remake offers a fresh start for Fisher and the series.
Ubisoft looks set to use this remake as a springboard – a shock to get electricity flowing through the property again. Patience is key, and it’s important to know when a series is flying further into the stratosphere and when it has lost power and is falling back to Earth (so you can make the landing as soft as possible). As fans, we don’t want Ubisoft to pump out sequel after sequel and have the quality dip with each new release. I applaud Ubisoft’s decision and can’t wait to see what new and interesting things the folks up in Toronto have created. It is better to get a remake and for the series to have a new lease of life than for it to lay dormant or get a sequel so long after its predecessor.