Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Essentials
Review by hellsservant
"It's Splinter Cell on the go, but is it worth it?"
I've always been a fan of the Splinter Cell games, and when I heard that there was going to be one for PSP, I got excited. However, I was worried that they might not be able to translate it faithfully, especially with the lack of a second analog nub. But it came out, I bought it, and thankfully, I'm not disappointed. Either way, lets get on with the review.
This one's a mixed bag. They did some things right, but other things wrong. I think that it probably would have been better if they decided not to put in absolutely everything from the console games. I say this because the controls can get confusing easily. For example, the directional pad is used for many different things in the game. You tap up to use your binoculars things, but you can also hold up to select which weapon you want to use. The other directional buttons are used for more than one thing as well, depending on whether you tap it or hold it. It's not THAT hard to get used to, but it can be fairly tricky sometimes.
The camera was the biggest concern I had with the game when I first heard it was coming out. Now that I've played through the game I can say that it's another mixed bag. You hold (O) to go into camera mode, where you can move the camera around. However, you can't move Sam when you're in that mode. So if you're trying to sneak by a guard or sneak up on him, you'll have to try and figure out which camera angle is best before you try, because you won't have time to stop and move it around if you chose a bad angle. You can also tap (O) to re-center the camera behind Sam, which can be useful sometimes through the game. But it's hard to do while you're moving, you'll likely need to stop in order to do that. Overall, the camera works, but it takes some getting used to and can be a bit annoying at times.
One problem I had with the controls was that you have to options when it comes to moving, walking slowly and running. You run be moving the analog stick quickly all the way to one side. However, you can't slow down by simply moving the nub towards the center slightly. You have to let it center before you can slow down. So you need to come to a full stop, in other words. You can move slowly by slightly moving the nub in any direction, but once you start moving slowly you can't move faster by just pushing the nub all the way to one side, you have to stop as well. This proved to be quite annoying while playing. I eventually got used to it, but it does create problems. When you move slowly you usually can't catch up to a guard in order to grab him or knock him out, but if you move quickly the guard will likely hear you and you won't be able to knock him out without losing some health.
There is a secondary control scheme, where you can switch between camera mode and normal mode by tapping the down button. In camera mode, you can move the camera just by pushing the face buttons, which can be very helpful since you don't need to come to a stop in order to move the camera. But, I found it to be rather uncomfortable when you had to switch between camera mode and normal mode, because in normal mode you can't move the camera, you have to tap the down button in order to do that.
The controls are a bit tricky and definitely take some getting used to, but when you do, it doesn't appear to be as bad as it could have been.
This is where the game didn't disappoint. If you've played Splinter Cell before, you know what to expect, and there didn't miss a beat.
You have about 9 missions and 3 bonus missions that you unlock by entering a code. Some are old missions, some are brand new ones. Most are flashbacks though. The first actual mission takes place before Sam Fisher joined Third Echelon. A few of the levels you've played before, but most are new. There are two missions from Double Agent as well, so if you really, really don't want to know any spoilers for that game you might want to hold off on playing this. But in case you were worried that all the levels were rehashes, don't worry any longer. Only some are.
You can also save anywhere in the level and start off from wherever you saved from when you come back. Which can be very helpful. It also creates a checkpoint when you save, so if you die, you'll be returned to that point.
You can do basically everything you could do in the console games. You can grab enemies, knock them out, stab them, etc. It's all there, and it feels like Splinter Cell, which is what's most important.
The graphics in this game are great. Not the best the PSP has to offer, but they still look good.
The only gripes I have with them is that the frame-rate tends to dip occasionally, and it can also be too dark sometimes. Some missions you're almost required to use your night vision throughout it.
But other than that it looks great.
Another area where the did a great job. Every sound from the console games made the transition. You can hear guards footsteps, you can hear your own if you're going too fast, the guards even do that thing where the whistle so you can hear them.
The voice acting is great as well, all the voice actors returned, and it all sounds great.
The music also picks up whenever you're discovered or of the guards are suspicious.
There's a lot of fun to be had here, and the fact that you can save anywhere you want helps make missions more replayable. The bonus missions are good ones, and the plot is actually pretty good. If you're a Splinter Cell fan, you could be playing this one for awhile and not be bored. I only wish there were some unlockables, but hey, maybe next time.
It has its flaws, but it IS Splinter Cell, and it feels like Splinter Cell. If what you're after is some Splinter Cell action on the go, look no farther, while it's marred by some control issues, if you can see past them you're looking at a very good game.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/30/06
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