The return of the Spies vs. Mercs multiplayer mode—among others—is one of my favorite parts of Blacklist. It pits two players as spies (playing from third-person perspective) trying to hack into computer terminals while two mercenaries (playing in the first-person perspective) try to stop it. This distinct split in player perspective neatly exemplifies the troubling duality of playing Sam
Fisher in the campaign: one team is clearly meant to be sneaky, while the other works best when they solve problems with bullets. As a merc, you have to be more alert and attentive to your surroundings, as you're constrained by a limited perspective that leaves you unaware of anything happening behind you. As a spy, you can constantly keep an eye on what's going on all around you but can't stand up in direct combat against the mercs, who are equipped with body armor and assault rifles. It's a classic Splinter Cell multiplayer challenge that's still a delight to play after all these years.
The triumphant return of Spies vs. Mercs is a clear callback to classic Splinter Cell, but don't let it fool you: Blacklist is an action game in stealth-espionage clothing. This change in direction may spoil what you love about Splinter Cell, but it doesn't spoil the game itself: Blacklist is still exceptionally and I never felt bored throughout the eight- to ten-hour campaign—though I did have to retry a few areas countless times until I finally got it right.
Those moments of frustration feel like classic Splinter Cell, but the rest of Blacklist is something altogether fresh. If you take your time, find a buddy willing to hop in and out of co-op when you need it, and embrace Blacklist as the embodiment of an all-out summer blockbuster action movie wrapped in a hyper-serious core of modern-day military drama, you'll probably enjoy yourself. At the very least, you're certain to have a blast playing Spies vs. Mercs with a buddy.
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