Game director calls out ‘kneejerk reactions’
Ubisoft didn’t exactly thrill Splinter Cell fans with its presentation of Blacklist so far, showcasing Sam Fisher romping around the Middle East, stabbing terrorists with wanton abandon. It looks like a departure from the series’ roots, but Ubisoft says such a perception is the fans’ fault.
“Everyone can make kneejerk reactions to a vertical slice of the game that are really uninformed as to what the whole experience is like,” director David Footman told Eurogamer. “We really have to be patient as we roll out each item about the game.
“What we showed at E3 was very explosive, very violent. That kind of stuff tends to get shown, but as we roll out different aspects of the game you’ll see a lot more diversity and lot more of what hardcore fans are expecting to see. There are two distinct styles of gameplay — you can ghost a map, or you can go wild as well. There are some areas you’ll have to play stealth, but there are areas where you’ll find it hard if you don’t use wide-open action.”
Another problematic area is the game’s excessive violence, especially the scenes of torture. Footman defended this from a narrative angle.
“If it makes you squeamish and uncomfortable, maybe that’s the point. I always know when we’re onto something that’s really touchy and interesting when we get reactions like that. But the truth is it’s really happening. That’s the truth. We all know it’s really happening all over the world. People are doing horrible things for — what, the right reasons?
“Where do you draw the line? What would you do to save your country when all it took was to torture someone using the wrong means? We feel it’s an interesting dilemma for the player.”
Finally, he added that Splinter Cell needs to be more like a Hollywood blockbuster if it wants to succeed — a sentiment I doubt the fans will appreciate much.
“We’ve gone from being a big game to a monster game. If you want to come out with a big Hollywood movie in the summer time, if you’re not a big blockbuster — you’re not going to get seen. It’s very competitive now, it takes out the whole middle ground. You really need to know what space you’re competing in. It’s deep and it’s broad.”
Some interesting justifications from the Ubisoft camp, but I must call Footman out on the trailer thing. While I agree, and have argued, that you can’t judge a game based on a handful of trailers, it’s also true that you can’t release those trailers and then claim it’s not indicative of the product. To call fans “uninformed” is a bit harsh when you’re the guys choosing what bits of information to share, and all you’ve shared so far is Hollywood action to get attention.
You can’t have it all, and if Ubisoft wants to people to think Splinter Cell is action-heavy and violence-oriented, it can’t act surprised when some fans are wary of the action and violence. It has to either stand by it, or release something truer to the spirit of the product. I’d have more respect for either of those actions than the rather craven tactic of blaming fans for the lack of information they’ve been given.
Whether it’s over-the-top action or covert stealth, I just care that it’s good. What I don’t care for is a developer trying to do one thing and say another. Commit to your direction.
[Thanks to those who sent this in]