Ubisoft cuts torture scene from Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Sam Fisher won't be going 24 on America's enemies this time

A number of outlets have gotten an updated look at Ubisoft's Splinter Cell: Blacklist and one thing that's missing from the E3 reveal is the controversial torture scene. Blacklist producer Andrew Wilson told Eurogamer that the scene was cut and explained why it was in the E3 demo in the first place.

"Definitely we are not going to see when the game's coming out that there are torture scenes in it. That scene is not there anymore. I've not really heard anyone say they loved it," said Wilson. "It wasn't nice to see any negative reaction to something you've thrown your life into."

Wilson stressed that the scene - where protagonist Sam Fisher digs a knife into a hostage in order to extract information - was not indicative of the game's overall tone.

"Because the nature of E3, there are certain things that are easier to demonstrate," said Wilson. ""The first thing I'd say about that is that possibly there was missing context - and in an unabridged snapshot, it seemed like pretty tough material. We've scaled a lot of that back, and as we've gone through the process of development there are always things that you feel are not working as well. Every game does this, and cuts certain things."

Ubisoft creative director Maxime Beland told Kotaku that torture may still be present in the game, but the interactive nature has been removed.

"No, there will not be interactive torture in Blacklist. On Conviction, we called those 'interrogations,' right? And it was kind of, my vision of Conviction was that the player to be in control all the time. We had no camera cuts, I always wanted to make it feel that it was nonstop," said Beland.

"We're doing certain things with interrogation moments where you won't be in control, but you will be in control of what you do with the guy after. So again, embracing that lethal/nonlethal side."

Beland explained to Kotaku that fitting a true morality system to gameplay was difficult, as many players end up gaming to the system for reward instead of pondering moral questions.

"We had a big discussion, [game director] Patrick Redding and I, we had a big discussion about moral choices in games. Our conclusion was that, to have a true moral choice in a game, we haven't found a way to link it to gameplay. As soon as you link it to gameplay, the player sees the matrix, he sees the gold pot at the end of the rainbow, and then he plays the system a lot more than he plays the true morality."

"What we talked about, and we had lunches and meetings about it, we said, let's try something where it's a true moral choice. You're not going to get a thousand dollars if you don't kill the guy and only five hundred if you do; let's remove all the gameplay part of it. Let's put the player into those situations, put them in control-because that's where games shine-and then, hopefully, we're treating it in a way that's mature, that's respectful, that will get people talking about it."

Splinter Cell: Blacklist is scheduled for release on August 20, 2013.

Related stories

For Ubisoft it's goodbye Vivendi, hello Tencent

China's largest technology company, Tencent, is taking on 5% of Ubisoft - continuing its progress into becoming by far the largest game company most gamers have never heard of

By Rob Fahey

Ubisoft opens new studios in India and Ukraine

New development units in Mumbai and Odesa

By Christopher Dring

Latest comments (4)

Cameron Lourenco Studying Business Managemant, Conestoga College5 years ago
Someone needs to tell this developer - if you want gamers to care more about the moral choice rather than gaming the system, you need to tie the results of said moral choices to the storyline, not to rewarding the player. The story should change, the characters should change in how they react to you, dialogue should change, but if you start rewarding the player from using once choice over another you run into this problem where the player doesn't think about the choices and the things the devs are trying to get the player to contemplate.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Jordan Community Manager, Ubisoft5 years ago
Spec Ops: The Line and The Walking Dead game (Well until about Episode 3, then most choices didn't matter) did the moral choice system very well, maybe developers of games with moral choice systems should take a leaf out of their book.

Personally for me, when I am faced with a moral choice system, I will play firstly with instinct, choosing the choices I would personally choose, so I don't instantly "see the matrix or gold pot"

The current issue with most moral choice systems is the fact that the consequences of the choices do not affect game play or the storyline at all and that's why Spec Ops does the system well because not only does it remove "being rewarded for a choice" but impacts the storyline.

I do hope future developers will click as to why moral choice systems in most current games fail and most importantly build upon that in order to really bring interaction and a game to life.

As to removing torture scenes, I can understand the "true reasoning" behind it (Obviously after the talks of violence within video games, allowing the player to torture someone to gain information from them wouldn't go down so well and just give people more things to point the finger at) but it is sad also to see this happening
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Eric Leisy VR Production Designer, Nike5 years ago
I think it was in poor judgement for them to use that scene in the E3 demo. Taken out of context of the game and story, I don't see how people wouldn't instantly focus the spot light on that scene. I'm not a splintercell player and have yet to play really any of these games (should I?), but I also believe heavily in games being "fair game" for dealing with hard reality and difficult subject matter, when done intelligently and in context. The climate for adult games with violence is tough right now, I will admit.

Also agree with you above posters in how these moral decisions were handled in Walking Dead, and Spec Ops. In both of these games, I sat and fought with myself on a few of the more horrifying decisions. *SPOILER* I was a bit frustrated in Spec Ops, that you didn't have a choice for napalming a bunch of innocent people - especially when they set it up to appear to be a decision with having your team mates split on the issue... I really tried to NOT naplam the soldiers, and just continually died trying to avoid that decision - until realizing I didn't have a choice. Could be seen as a flaw...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Eric Leisy on 18th February 2013 9:46pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (4)
Adam Jordan Community Manager, Ubisoft5 years ago
I wouldn't say it's taken out of context of the game and story at all, granted it may clash with the old school Splinter Cell (Splinter Cell, Pandora Tomorrow, Chaos Theory and Double Agent) but there are two factors to consider.

1) Secret Agent/Behind Enemy Lines stuff - This may sound like I am trying to blame specific things or use the "can't beat them, then join them" excuse but it isn't done intentionally. My point is, the fact and fiction of spies and secret agents isn't pretty, those they deal with and even themselves are subjected to years of training and discipline to withstand the worst kinds of torture imaginable in order to avoid giving away secrets and if they fear they will crack if capture is imminent then they are to kill themselves.

With that said, the same goes for revenge stories, someone they love is killed, they go looking for the killer and torture people to find information. I am pretty sure we all can list movies that provide such detail and even other games, which leads me to my second point

2) Keeping up with the competition and demand - We are an aggressive and violent species, sure we can be peaceful but survival and fighting is in our blood. How many of us dived into Dishonored and instantly went on a hack and slash attack the second we could? I'm not saying that games "need" to go one step further in the violence department but you can see the brainstorm behind it.

The other thing is...The Witcher 2 was pulled heavily regarding their E3 video where they showed the torture of a NPC woman occurring, developers actually decided to take it out but then they had a change of heart and kept it in...I don't think it had any particular reason for being in there as in it wasn't detrimental to the plot or anything but I don't think after that decision was made and the game was released that it was ever mentioned again.

However to come back to a full circle in regards to a torture scene being taken out of context within a Splinter Cell game, Splinter Cell: Conviction really kicked it off with it all in the Splinter Cell series, the fact you could bounce a guy's head off a fridge door, then open it, place his head inside and slam the door shut; all because he decided not to continue telling you the information you needed was kind of cool.

Then again it actually did give context in the sense of in Conviction, all I will say since it could be considered a spoiler is that once the plot of the game starts to unfold before you, it makes sense as to why Sam Fisher is like he is in Conviction and Blacklist, I can't really recall Double Agent that much but Conviction does continue on 3 years after Double Agent.

Overall: I see no difference between the torture scene that was in Blacklist's E3 demo and most choices made within Spec Ops really
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.