While every Splinter Cell title has shared mechanics and playing one means you're probably going to get any of them, there are still plenty of inconsistencies, and they all contain their own quirks and nuances that set them apart, constantly evolving.
Despite the generally positive reception of Splinter Cell: Blacklist, sales did not reach Ubisoft's projected targets, and Ubisoft Toronto is still trying to perfect the formula, according to Kristjan Zadziuk in an interview with OXM.
"We haven't got the luxury of Assassin's Creed where we know our formula; we're still evolving," says Zadziuk. Frankly, I'd consider that a plus, seeing as that much of Assassin's Creed's design has become a tired crutch. It wasn't until Ubisoft broke out of the formulaic rut epitomised by Assassin's Creed III by shifting the action to nautical antics that the series really became something special.
"If you look at them, there's no two Splinter Cells that are the same," Zadziuk continues. "They've all evolved and adapted. That, to me, is what makes it really exciting. We're getting closer to what that game is, and maybe it isn't necessarily about Splinter Cell being a 15-16 million Call of Duty-type best-seller. Maybe it's just about it being the best Splinter Cell that it can be."
Zadziuk doesn't just want to pluck mechanics from other Ubisoft properties, though. "Far Cry 3 is such an expansive game, so they're trying to find you an organic way of giving you a map. That wouldn't work for Splinter Cell - there'd be no point in Sam climbing to the top of a tower and pressing a button." Yet he notes that Splinter Cell does now have its own version of Assassin's Creed free running, because it made sense for the franchise.
It's important for a series, especially one that's been around the block of a few times like Splinter Cell, to keep evolving, keep experimenting with new elements, but I do hope that Ubisoft Montreal's goal is not to find something that "works" and just keep doing it over and over again, especially when what works - in the case of Assassin's Creed - doesn't have anything to do with function and everything to do with sales.