Everyone picks favorites when they play games. We all have favorite characters and weapons and levels or specific moments from a game that we can recall at the drop of a hat. Well, the same goes for the people who actually make the games we play. Which brings us to Splinter Cell Blacklist: With the game out now, we cornered Creative Director Maxime Béland’s to ask him about his personal Blacklist favorites.
Favorite Fourth Echelon Member
“Besides Sam? It has to be Grim. This is my second game with Grim, and the other characters are new. I’m really happy with all of our characters but I think Grim is an amazing female character who’s as strong as Sam, and even stronger in certain areas. It’s hard for me to think about Grim now without thinking of Kate Drummond, who’s the actress playing Grim, just like it’s hard for me to think about Sam without thinking of Eric Johnson.
“I think it’s all about the chemistry these guys had on set and what Kate was able to bring to Grim – not just in performance, but in making her feel smart and making her feel powerful and being able to look Sam in the eye and call him out when he’s making bad decisions. It was great to see them on set, and I think we’ve got some scenes in the game where you completely see the results of the motion capture and the high quality it allows us. So yeah, when I have to pick between them all, Sam is my first favorite, but Grim is definitely my second.”
Favorite Playstyle and Spies vs. Mercs Class
“For sure my favorite style is Panther. It’s planning and thinking mixed with action and reactivity. For me it’s the best of both worlds. I get to think and I get to act more. The best moments are when you enter a room and there are four or five guys and you observe, see what’s happening and make your plan. You can use mark-and-execute on a couple and a gadget on another and it’s super quick.
“The Predator Spy is my favorite class, with the Digital Ghillie Suit. It’s the perfect feeling. You’re hiding, you see a Merc arriving, you turn it on and you know you’re invisible more or less. That’s the fantasy, right? You’re the ultimate Ghost. It works really well.”
“I never leave home without my sticky noisemaker. That’s the thing I always make sure I have in my pocket. It’s such a good, versatile gadget. I can use it to attract an AI to me or to another place. I can use it to bring two enemies near each other so I can use a different gadget to take them both down. Yeah, the sticky noisemaker is the first thing in my pockets when I leave the plane.
“I also love the sleeping gas grenade, just because it’s a nonlethal way to take out multiple enemies. It’s a good feeling when you see two guys talking and you throw it at the ground near them and watch them drop. It’s kind of funny and it releases the tension a little. Then I think for me the third one is the crossbow, which counts as a weapon, not a gadget. I just really like using the crossbow with all the nonlethal darts. We’ve got different bolts we can use on the crossbow. There’s sleeping gas and the Taser. It’s a good gadget to buy and upgrade right away.”
“I think we have a very strong ending. The last two maps of the game – American Fuel and American Blood, the last two Blacklist attacks – are probably two of my favorite levels. There’s a section in American Fuel that’s multi-level and it’s a really nice sandbox. You can go above, you can go under, there’re pipes and there’s cover. Because it’s the end of the game there are also a lot more types of enemies. There are heavies, there are techs, there are drones… It really feels like it’s Game On.
“You can’t be sloppy anymore. You can’t be lazy. You really have to think about what you’re going to do. The environment is so open and you have all these options. Even if you’re detected, you can easily run away, vanish and come back. I also really like American Blood because – I don’t want to spoil anything – it has some cool security measures that add another layer of stress. So yeah, I like Blood because of the security measures. That’s all I’ll say.”
What Are You Most Proud Of?
“A little over three years ago I moved my family from Montreal to Toronto to start up Ubisoft Toronto. When I arrived we had 20 people working there. Now, as we ship the game, we have over 300. We also worked in partnership with Ubisoft Montreal on Spies vs. Mercs as well as Ubisoft Shanghai. So the thing I’m most proud of is all of that. There are so many things that could have gone wrong in all of that… but we did it!
“We made a game. We built a studio. A lot of people moved themselves and their families for it and I’m excited about that. Not only did we create a game, we created a studio and an environment for people to come and work every day and be creative. It’s a big thing.”
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell® Blacklist™
ESRB Rating: MATURE with Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Strong Language