Sam Fisher will slink back into action next year, with a sixth Splinter Cell title scheduled for early 2013 (we've seen "spring" and the "first quarter" bandied about, but no specific release date yet). Dubbed Splinter Cell: Blacklist, the title will ship for the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, with Kinect controls planned for Microsoft's console. According to current information, Blacklist is being developed by Ubisoft Toronto (opened in 2009) in collaboration with Ubisoft Montreal (behind most of the Splinter Cell titles).
The latest entry is set six months after Splinter Cell: Conviction and appears to be at least slightly more faithful to the classic franchise. Conviction depicted Fisher as something of a rogue agent seeking revenge for his daughter's death and it emphasized the "action" part of "stealth-action" by introducing a cover system, more fluid hand-to-hand combat, mission objectives displayed via in-game environments, and a "mark and execute" mechanic that let you dispatch multiple enemies with minimal effort.
All of those elements appear to be present in Blacklist, but fans of earlier entries will appreciate the return of Fisher's iconic night vision goggles, which were entirely scrapped for sonar goggles that let you see through walls in Conviction. Word has it that you'll also be able to bait enemies by creating vocal noise, and Kinect owners will be able to do this by speaking a command. Blacklist will also see the return of the classic multiplayer mode Spies versus Mercenaries, which was also absent in Conviction.
Plot-wise, Ubisoft is steering away from Fisher's personal struggles and focusing more on the political espionage that popularized the series. According to IGN, a group of "rogue nations" threatens action against high profile US targets unless the country ceases its military operations. Fisher – err, you – are tasked with resolving the conflict and you're supplied with a new 4th Echelon unit and a Strategic Mission Interface that helps you determine the best course of action (limited details here, sadly).
The video above shows some of Blacklist's fluid traversal and action sequences, which likely isn't what a stealth purist wants to see, but it makes for a better mass audience demo. Although the gameplay will surely be more aggressive than early Splinter Cell titles, the reintroduction vocal distractions, the ability to move bodies, and weapons like the sticky shocker should make for a more balanced experience. Oh, and before we forget, Fisher will be voiced by Eric Johnson instead of Michael Ironside this time.