I’m glad Ubisoft added the Echelon class to Breakpoint. It is a fun experience, and I still find myself occasionally switching away from my sniper-style play to pretend I’m playing a new Splinter Cell.
Unfortunately, the experience is severely lacking in a number of areas.
Splinter Cell’s beauty came in the fact that it was designed for one style of gameplay; it wasn’t trying to be everything to everybody. Not that games like that aren’t great; Obviously, I enjoy Breakpoint despite all its flaws, but sometimes you need a laser focus to succeed.
What’s missing from Breakpoint to create a true Splinter Cell experience?
There are a few key things that Breakpoint lacks when it comes to playing as the titular Sam Fisher; number one is the verticality. Splinter Cell can be for all intents and purposes considered a modern-day Assassin’s Creed. You climb walls, hang from pipes, and drop on foes to take them down. You’ve got all sorts of tools at your disposal to handle your enemies, and they are all designed to create a seamless experience.
The second thing that is missing is that Breakpoint is an expansive open world; While that’s certainly doable in stealth-focused games (see Metal Gear Solid V), part of what made Splinter Cell work so well was the tight corridors and going from room to room, alleyway to alleyway, to complete your objective. There is very little dashing from cover to cover in Breakpoint; In fact, about the only time you could have that sort of experience was in the location I first went to in Part 2. The large campus had multiple buildings with multiple offices, and provided plenty of options for cover along the way, and multiple methods of infiltration.
Most buildings in Breakpoint are small and have little in the way of corridors. Alleyways are practically non-existent, too, given the island’s design as sterile, yet anti-urban. Of course, there’s also the sub base, and a few other major locations I’m sure I’m neglecting, but overall Auroa is a large, expansive, open area.
Finally, the interactions critical to a Splinter Cell playthrough aren’t near as fluid (or fast). You can easily explain this away by saying you’re NOT Sam Fisher, which is true, but the fact that it takes forever for you to lift a body and hide it, and killing an enemy in CQC takes a few seconds vs. Sam’s efficient and quick takedown means you’re not going to be grabbing many people on patrol and subduing them quietly with their partner none-the-wiser.
Additionally, you can’t shut off/shoot out all the danged lights. For whatever reason, some are just plain bullet proof and must run on a perpetual motion devices for power.
Still, at least you get to play as Sam Fisher AND have fun blowing things up when you need the relief. After all, the game gives you rocket launchers, grenade launchers, multiple types of grenades, multiple kinds of mines, C4, target designators for artillery strikes, and even attack helicopters to play with..