Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Essentials Review

The Splinter Cell games have always pushed the limits of the systems on which they’ve appeared, with the exception of portables. Portable systems just haven’t had the power to handle a Splinter Cell game. Now with the PSP we finally have a portable with the power to do this excellent game series justice. So does Splinter Cell Essentials finally manage to bring the Splinter Cell experience to gamers on the go?


plinter Cell Essentials is not entirely a new game per se. It is a collection of missions drawn from previous Splinter Cell titles tied together by a story that is reminiscent of a “memory” episode of a sitcom. At the start of the game Sam Fisher finds himself arrested by Homeland Security and accused of treason. During his interrogation he is accused of various transgressions during his career to which he responds by relating the actual events of the mission – events that you will play through yourself. If you’ve played every Splinter Cell game before, then the missions will obviously be at least somewhat familiar to you. However, this does not necessarily mean that you’ll be able to walk through the game from memory. The missions have been tweaked for the PSP and you’ll also find some original ones created specifically for Splinter Cell Essentials as well.

Splinter Cell Essentials remains true to the series in that in order to succeed you’ll need to take a discrete stealth-based approach to the missions. Attempting to run and gun your way through the game as if it were a first-person shooter will lead to quick deaths and failure. Aiding you in your stealth-based approach to the missions is Sam Fisher’s arsenal of moves. He can handle all of the basics such as hugging walls, shimmying along ledges, and sliding down ziplines. However, Sam is capable of so much more such as wall splits, SWAT moves, and dropping down on enemies from above.

All of these great moves are made less effective than they should be by the game itself – more specifically its poor control scheme. The directional nub is used to move Sam, but to change his facing you need to switch to free-look mode by holding down a button and moving the nub. This makes it extremely unwieldy to do the most basic of maneuvers such as trying to turn a corner. To do so you need to run, come to a stop, change your facing, and then start running again. Try doing that while being chased.