By Jason Venter | 06-04-2012 | 4:00PM
Near the start of an E3 presentation that didn't manage to reveal a lot of previously unannounced software, Microsoft nonetheless delighted audiences with the unveiling of a new installment in the long-running Splinter Cell series.
The E3 presentation footage, now also available online, begins with the camera focused on a man carrying a wounded soldier toward an encampment located in a ravine. Junky pickup trucks line the area to the left, while tents and power lines decorate the area directly ahead. As the man continues forward, men shout in the distance and disappear into a tent. He follows them into the enclosure, and the waiting men take their wounded fellow from his arms.
The victim is laid on the table while two men tend to him. A third man seems suspicious for some reason, so he interrogates the one who brought in their patient. He's right to be suspicious, as it turns out; the apparent angel of mercy is none other than Sam Fisher in disguise. Target reticules appear over the men as they inspect their friend on the table.
Fisher suddenly attacks. He takes out the two men near the table with efficient head shots, then grabs the third fellow and breaks his arm while forcing him to the ground. Doubled over in pain, that man spits in Sam's general direction, so Sam lowers the veil that covers his mouth and scowls menacingly. Then he lifts the other man to his feet and slams his head against a table before dealing a few more blows and stabbing him in the chest.
Sam Fisher emerges from the tent and makes his way along a path leading forward toward a distant mountain range. At the media briefing, the presenter explained that the “Blacklist” is masterminded by a group of terrorist organizations working in concert. Sam's current location in the demo is on the Iran/Iraq border. His job is to capture a terrorist cell leader and then interrogate that man in order to prevent another Blacklist attack.
In the E3 presentation's remaining moments, Fisher sneaks through a tent and dispatches a single guard with a stealth kill before taking out a group of armed guards by rushing them and firing head shots left, right and ahead with a bullet-time effect in place. He also scales a building, dangles from the edge and calls to attract a nearby guard (the player will be able to call out to a Kinect in order to use that particular technique, according to the presenter).
Fisher watches as a vehicle rolls up and men spread out around the camp. They've been alerted to his presence and are prepared to shoot anything that moves. From behind his point of shelter, Fisher activates radar and highlights nearby enemies as white silhouettes. Then he starts down a wall and springs forward. He lands on a soldier, knocks him to the ground, and punches him in the face to subdue him. From there, Fisher continues to move through the area, relying on knife and gun kills to cut a swath through an army of terrorists. He even runs through an abandoned house to avoid gunfire and summons an air strike that blasts a bunch of terrorists on his behalf.
Once the air strike hits and the path forward is clear, Fisher sprints forward and then leaps up along some walls like Altair in Assassin's Creed. Nothing seems to slow him. He blows a door with some plastic explosives, clears a room with more bullet-time shots, and at last finds his target. The predictable problem he faces at that point is that the man isn't inclined to talk. As Fisher struggles with his target, the man says “If you're here, I'm already dead.” Then he dies of a gunshot wound to the head.
“He shot himself,” Fisher tells his radio contact, before calling for a UAV.
When the presentation concluded, it was plain to see that Ubisoft and Microsoft both feel that Splinter Cell: Blacklist could be a big deal for Ubisoft when it finally arrives in stores. Expectations were similarly high for Splinter Cell: Conviction, however, and it arrived in 2010 with barely any consumer reaction at all despite receiving generally favorable reviews. With no conventional Metal Gear Solid in sight, though, and with stealth-loving gamers suffering from withdrawals, the newest Splinter Cell looks interesting enough to matter. You should probably expect to hear a lot more about it in the coming months.