Ubisoft Developed by:
Ubisoft Montreal Genre:
M (Mature) Release Date:
March 21, 2006 Written By:
Tom Clancy has made a name for himself providing gamers with hard-hitting action with various titles from the Rainbow Six series, to even the Splinter Cell titles. On the current generation consoles, Splinter Cell titles have redefined the stealth genre and raised the bar as to what is expected from a action based title. During this generation, we found ourselves also dabbling into the handheld versions of the title, namely Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory for the Nintendo DS. This title was accepted for the most part due it carrying the acclaim name, but is was far from a solid action-based title. It was simply a port to see how gamers would perceive a handheld title.
But seeing how Ubisoft wanted to try something new this time around, they looked toward the PSP as its next handheld platform. The PSP is seen as a portable console, and because of that, they didnít have to worry about cutting corners here and there with creating a whole new experience. With this, Splinter Cell: Essentials was created. Within this title, you get the same classic action, new missions, and a little history behind our acclaimed hero. So how did he fair in his new adventure, lets find out.
Whatís interesting about the story behind Essentials is the fact that it takes place after the events of Double Agent, which hasnít even hit the market yet. Sam is arrested and taken to the NSA headquarters and is questioned about his actions in regards to several events, including his supposed involvement with terrorist activities. To clear his name, you have to search your past and find out whom is behind the fraudulent mission files and clear your name. So say goodbye to Double Agent and say hello to Essentials.
For newcomers to the series, stealth is the key. It ahs always kept Sam alive, so keep that in mind. If you ask anybody who has played a Splinter Cell title before, they will tell you that you would have more fun sneaking up behind someone and snapping their neck than you would shooting them down. When playing the game, you will notice a meter that keeps attract of how ďinvisibleĒ you are to your enemies and how much noise you make. When you are quiet as a mouse, you can sneak up on enemies and sometimes stand right next to them and they wouldnít even know it. But if you try to run through various levels without sneaking, the meter will increase and there is a greater chance of being found and killed. Donít think that the A.I. is stupid, just like you sneaking up on them, they can dot he same, if you make enough noise and donít watch your map.
All of Samís signature moves are still in tact. From hanging from ledges, to shimmying along walls, using enemies as human shields, drop attacks, split jumps, etc. You will also notice that Essentials is friendly to gamers in regards to saving and how each of the nine missions are broken down. Throughout each mission, the game automatically saves here and there, but you are still given the option to save at your discretions. In regards to the missions being setup, there are objectives where you would have to rescue captives, disarm bombs, intercept information, and even a little assassinating. You could complete a particular objective and quit playing for a while, or you could continue until the mission is complete.
In regards to the multiplayer experience, you suffer from a lack of options and online lag. The only option made available is ďspy vs. spyĒ, which isnít that bad, but a greater variety of options would of made the multiplayer experience more enjoyable. When you decide to go head up, you are only able to decide on the level, time frame, and which weapons are usable, but that even has its drawbacks. Depending on the level you choose, certain weapons are made available and others arenít. This kills the experience rather quickly, unless you just donít really care and just want to shoot your friend. There is also no game sharing or infrastructure mode, which would of help the overall experience.
Do to the lack of a right analog stick and an extra set of shoulder buttons; the control scheme for Essentials is a little more difficult than the console versions. To keep all of Samís maneuvers in tack, Ubisoft had to re-map the controls scheme to fit the PSP setup. One example of this would be on the console version, the left analog stick would be used to move and the right one for looking around. Within the PSP version, you would use the left analog stick to move, but if you want to look around, you would have to hold down the circle button, and then look around with the left analog stick. For the most part, all the other controls buttons are mapped to the PSP counterpart.
All the same great visuals and landscaping you found within the previous Splinter Cell titles was found within Essentials. The environments are dark, and immersive, but there are a few instances where you canít tell the differences between a wall and a ladder. You also have the problem with the landscaping being dark. The use of night vision is ever more present within Essentials than in any other Splinter Cell title created.
Ubisoft did take their time to ensure that this game could stack up against previous titles. Special effects were also there, though not truly as good as the console counterparts. Weapons and enemies are high stylized (through clothing) for the most part. The musical soundtrack and voice dialing was pretty good, though with the music, there are instances where it cuts in and out.
Though this isnít the best title to date within the Splinter Cell series, it is a definite offspring of the acclaim franchise. There were a few hits and misses within the visuals, sound, and gameplay mechanics, but overall is still an enjoyable experience. If you had to choose between this title and Chaos Theory for the DS, this would definitely be the choice for gamers and die hard Splinter Cell nuts. 6.5/
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