What Can Square Enix And Capcom Learn From Splinter Cell?
On the surface, it's a bizarre question. I understand that.
Square Enix and Capcom really don't make games like Splinter Cell. Military-based stealth? No, not really. So where am I going with this, you may ask?
Oh, it's quite simple, actually. For years now, fans of the Final Fantasy and Resident Evil franchises have complained bitterly that Square Enix and Capcom have abandoned their original fans in an effort to appeal to perceived Western tastes. In the eyes of many, this has backfired again and again. They just can't seem to locate an identity, as they desperately attempt to be "worldly" with the two iconic IPs. It's a really depressing situation, in truth.
Shifting to the Splinter Cell fan club, it is - for the most part - widely accepted that Chaos Theory was the best of the series. Double Agent wasn't bad and technically, neither was Conviction. But the latter felt like a significant departure from that which made the franchise awesome in the first place: An emphasis on stealth. Sam became more of an action hero and all those wonderful gadgets, all those various ways in which we could stealthily approach an objective, had sort of faded into the background. What replaced it felt more like a third-person shooter than a stealth title.
In many ways, that departure was a mirror of what started to happen years back with Final Fantasy and Resident Evil. There was an identity crisis; a developer's overarching desire to somehow cater to an entirely new audience, all the while sacrificing that which originally built their loyal fan base. To date, neither Japanese publisher has really managed to reclaim the lost glory of either franchise in question. At least, I would say the majority of fans of both IPs agree with that assessment. One could also argue that Splinter Cell was going down a similar path after Conviction.
But look what happened. It seems Ubisoft listened. If you want the details, read my review but in brief, we got our beloved Splinter Cell back. And it wasn't a matter of being "old-fashioned" or refusing to embrace modern trends. Those trends are reflected in Blacklist; it's flashier, the most significant new mechanic is definitely a nod to action rather than stealth, and Sam is still more of an action hero. But the core has reverted to an emphasis on stealth. It encourages and rewards the tactful and stealthy; the gadgets and techniques are back (and better than ever), and basically, it blends the original core of the franchise with new advancements.
Why, why can't certain Japanese companies do this? If you really think about it, it isn't that hard.
Related Game(s): Splinter Cell: Blacklist
8/27/2013 10:13:29 PM Ben Dutka