Sam Fisher has certainly matured since his first stealthy attack on gaming back in 2002, and this appears to have been accompanied by the realisation of the the moral ambiguity of the world in which he operates. Splinter Cell: Blacklist is set to return to the more stealth-orientated gameplay of the first few games, but it will also focus on the seemingly impossible decisions one would have to make in his position.
Speaking to Game Informer, Ubisoft‘s creative director Maxime Beland revealed this design decision:
“We love the idea of putting the player in those situations that [real soldiers] are going through. It’s not a question sometimes of doing the right thing or the wrong thing. Sometimes it’s I need to do the wrong or the wrong-er. What do I do? There’s no good option.”
“So for us, the interrogations are a bit of that. We want to put the player into situations that are like the one [we showed] at E3; the guy just told you everything you needed to know. You’re done. You’re good. You’re Sam Fischer. This guy is finished. Are you going to kill him?”
Beland then went on to explain that he hopes that these choices will impact the player far beyond the scope of the game itself:
“If we told you, if you’re the good guy, you’re gonna to get this, and if you’re the bad guy, you’re gonna get that, you’re not thinking ‘what am I doing here?’ In those moments, what I like is when you play them and you talk to your friend about it after, you say ‘I did this. What do you think?’ That’s the kind of discussion we want. And I think it’s cool to make people reflect on it and hopefully grow as humans a little bit. Because we’ve got some guys everywhere in the world that are making those decisions every day for us.”
For me, there is a vast difference conceptually between moral ambiguity and the freedom to choose. Deciding whether to kill someone or not can leave you contemplating your actions for a few moments afterwards, but having to live through the consequences of that decision makes it something far more affecting. It will be interesting to see which camp Splinter Cell: Blacklist falls into when it is released next year, but Sam Fisher isn’t usually one to miss his mark.