This article originally appeared in Xbox World magazine.
Our heroes are getting younger, and it's not just our imagination. James Bond, Lara Croft, Devil May Cry's Dante, and now Sam Fisher are all refusing to age with the rest of us. Fisher's new-found youth precludes long-time voice actor Michael Ironside from reprising his role in Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and his omission was the first thing we confronted creative director Maxime Beland about in our exclusive Q&A.
"A couple of years ago, we decided we weren't going to focus on specific years and timelines in the Splinter Cell franchise," says Beland. "The performance-capture technology we are incorporating in Splinter Cell: Blacklist renders a 1:1 model of our actor. Because of this, Sam Fisher appears a little more youthful - but we actually think he looks better." Call us grumpy old bastards, but we're not so sure. Michael Ironside is Sam Fisher as far as we're concerned, and in a world of me-too action games, it's the gruff, tortured personality of its lead that has defined Splinter Cell. Johnny Newguy has big shoes to fill, but given Ubisoft's track record of picking exemplary mo-cap actors (take Michael Mando as Far Cry 3's Vaas) we're cautiously optimistic.
LOOKING TO ASSASSIN'S CREED
Without Ironside, Splinter Cell: Blacklist will be almost unrecognisable to anyone who skipped Conviction. While some complained about it, many - including us - saw the new 'aggressive stealth' as Splinter Cell's true step into the current generation. For better or worse, Splinter Cell: Blacklist takes this all-action approach even further.
It's a far cry from the original, where you thought twice about killing a man
"Players have the freedom to go big and go loud with innovative gadgets, active sprint, killing in motion and revamped shooting and gameplay," says Beland. We've already seen this in the game's E3 demo, where Fisher murders 25+ men in less than six minutes, putting mark-and-execute to good - almost excessive - use. It's a far cry from the original, where you thought twice about killing a man from a split-jump, because it was curtains if his buddies spotted you.