Splinter Cell: Blacklist looks to return the series to its stealth roots, while upping the ante on replayability with Spies vs. Mercs. We at T3 will be bringing you plenty of new and inventive ways to hack important databases, and brutal means of defending them. However, there are a few basics — for both sides — that always need reiterating: patience, precision, composure.
Strike from the shadows, shine in the light
Patience: A Spy’s weapon is not his outright power, nor those tools in his arsenal. It is his ability to strike from anywhere and be nowhere. In Spies vs. Mercs, paranoia is key to victory, but it should not be instantly created. Rather, taunt your heavily armed enemies with glimpses and unsure sightings. Wait until he is at wits end, something all too easy to see, then strike. Timing is everything when going up against an otherwise overpowering force. Reaction matters when the darkness fades.
It comes down to seconds, usually. If you’re playing Blacklist with friends (which you should be), coordinate your strikes to the minutest detail. Everything can come crashing down if one of you attacks too early or too late. If you’re used to reflex games like I am, learning to wait will be the most difficult thing. One opportunity does not rule out other, more profitable ones. Every now and again you’ll need to move regardless of desire. For the most part, though, your ability to stay hidden and watch is the difference between a kill and an untimely end. They have to come out of the shadows at some point. Give them enough robe to hang themselves.
Precision: Coordination is key, but being individually skilled is no less valuable. The trick is finding the balance between the two and attacking with, well, precision. Where timing determines the when, precision determines the how. Do you wait for the Merc to wander off in search of greener pastures, or slice his throat? In the case of the first, you’ve not eliminated a threat, merely delayed it. You gamble that, in his haste and confusion when he returns, dispatching him will be a simple matter. In the case of the second, one threat is gone completely, but his one-two-three friends will be well aware of at least one sneaky Spy, and wanting for blood.
Precision is contextual and must be examined on a moment by moment basis. Precision is fast and effective and silent. Precision is, ultimately, the hallmark of an effective killer, or team of them. The trouble comes when someone’s trigger finger gets twitchy or when patience runs thin. That’s when the third and final point comes into play.
Composure: As a Spy, you need the patience to wait for the perfect moment. You need the precision to complete your objectives with the least amount of effort. You need composure to maintain a cool head when threats approach or the unexpected occurs. Watch the most skilled players in any (e)sport. The ones that walk away with big trophies and smiles on their faces are the ones who can accept their failures with an even temper but get right back in the fight as though nothing happened.
Composure comes down to controlling yourself in the moments before you act. You’ve waited, watched, planned, and planned again. The moment presents itself, and you either flinch or you don’t. Do, and it’s all been for nothing. Don’t, and you can continue the objective. The pressure increases as the number of necessary hacks decreases. Don’t let the sweat of your hands and the thumping of your heart cause an unneeded twitch or unneeded movement. Let them focus you, heighten your senses. Victory or defeat might ride on it.
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