Last night, at an obscure location called the Metropolis Factory, Ubisoft Toronto celebrated the impending launch of their baby, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, with panache and lots of green lighting. It was a fantastic foreshadowing of the awesomeness that is to come when the game hits the shelves. There were friends, food, and a number of stations set up to enjoy multi-player mayhem. I got to try the game out – and it looks like it’s going to kick all kinds of butt.
Evening was settling over Toronto like a camouflage blanket as I made my way down a side street near Dundas and Annette. The Metropolis Factory is a fairly nondescript brick building located at the end of a residential street. As I approached, I heard the tell-tale thrumming of bass emanating from many speakers and was greeted by none other than Sam Fisher. I knew that I was in for an evening of fun – after all, Splinter Cell: Blacklist was fully developed at the Ubisoft Toronto studio, so the Toronto team had good reason to celebrate.
As I walked in the door, I was bathed in green light – a colour strongly associated with Sam Fisher. Video screens set up all around the room showed clips of the game while a countdown clock was projected on the wall over the bar. Scattered about the room were several quad gaming stations, each with their own screen, XBox 360, and set of headphones. The idea was that four people could each play on their own console with each other. Tucked away in the corner was a single gaming station in front of a nice comfy chair that was a little less chaotic than the other stations. To top it all off, cool tunes were being played by a DJ up on the second floor.
Right from the get-go, there was a pretty healthy crowd that only grew larger as the evening went on. The Ubisoft Toronto team was well represented, and there were a large number of media dolks present. Throughout the evening, I spoke to (and hung out with) a number of people. Jade Raymond (head of Ubisoft Toronto), and Jeyson Acevedo (dancing maniac and all-around gentleman) each had a turn at the microphone to address the crowd about Blacklist. I got to nerd out when I met Kevin Secours from Integrated Fighting Systems. Why nerd out? Because Kevin is an accomplished martial artist and the man behind the combat of Blacklist. Most cool.
I managed to snag a few sessions of the multi-player mode for Blacklist. The lobby was easy to navigate and the mission was all about trying to stealthily invade a complex without being detected by the enemy. Playing games during launch parties is always challenging. Even though one has headphones on, it’s still a bit tough to get into the groove. While I never successfully managed to complete a mission, I really enjoyed some of the movement and take-down mechanics as well as the fantastic visuals. I am looking forward to trying this out with my own setup so I can really take in everything that the game has to offer.
I chatted briefly with a few people who were playing the game and they definitely were enjoying it. Some of the folks were lucky enough to have played the game before the launch event – and they had nothing but good things to say about it. The more I talked to people, the more excited I became, and I would inevitably look at the countdown clock on the wall, willing it to move faster.
Congrats to Ubisoft Toronto for the completion of this great looking title! Stay tuned for our review of Tom Clancy’S Splinter Cell: Blacklist – coming soon (and still available for pre-order from many places, from what I can tell)!