Review by ConCeal12

"Essentials is good."

First of all the Splinter Cell series is the best stealth game out there. Regardless of the console the game does great, and they get the controls, graphics, and everything else right. Although most (or all) portable splinter cell games sucked. From the n-gage to cell phones. So I picked up this game up in curiosity.

Graphics 7/10
I was relived to see that Essentials did a good job with the graphics. To me the first mission's texture isn't good. But as I advanced I got impressed. When you move Sam you move smoothly as usual. Essentials did well in this section. The night vision and thermal vision look great and they both work properly. Most of the time it gets to dark in the game and the night vision isn't good enough. So if you play it near sunlight you will often see a massive glare. I recommend that you play it away from sunlight and in night. (But that doesn't make it so portable anymore right? But its for the best)

Controls 10/10
The controls are my biggest concern in this game. I tired it out, and though that the controls sucked. But I got the time to learn how to use it and it did get good. You move using the analog stick. The D-pad is used to do several things. Tapping the left button allows you to scroll through your visions, although you don't have your EMV vision only the night and thermal vision. Holding the left button near a wall allows you to lean against the wall. This goes to every other direction of the D-pad. Tapping and holding a certain direction allows you to do 2 things with one button which is a great idea. And for the camera you have to hold the O button to switch to camera mode, so you could adjust the camera to the angle you are most comfortable in. But you are not able to do this while moving which could be annoying sometimes. Good news is that you are able to center the camera to the direction you're facing by tapping O. There are two types of control setting default and alternative. I highly recommend alternative to those who are interested in buying this game. Alternative doesn't change anything but the controls like O, X, triangle, and square. Also this changes the way the camera is used. The O button isn't for the camera anymore, it's the down button. But this time you don't have to hold the down button to move the camera. Tapping it sends you to camera mode and it will be that way until you press it again. This allows you to move the camera while walking, because while in camera mode the buttons O, X, triangle, and square moves the camera. When you tap it again it will turn off camera mode which switches those buttons to crouch, jump etc. Turning it back on will switch those buttons back to camera. It takes a while to get used to but it all turns out great. I also found out that the aiming has a problem. I took out my gun and then I aimed for an enemy's head, but there was a problem. There is a delay when you aim while you have your gun out. I think there is a 0.64 second delay. When you press circle you will notice that it takes a moment to actually move which messes up the aiming. Also when you run you can't change it to a walk or walk to run. You have to stop then run which could get in the way most of the time. (I died a lot because of this).

Gameplay 9/10
I was glad that Essentials had everything you would expect from the Splinter Cell series. There are still pipe climbing, upside down shooting, knock out/ kill attacks, Door moves, optic cable, etc. The AI isn't so bad, but I had trouble passing by some guys myself. You still have your guns, like the pistol and assault rifle. The launcher equipment is there to. From sticky shockers, all the way to gas grenades, Essentials has it. I was also happy to know that you are able to interact with light bulbs. You can still shoot it out or turn it off. And when an NPC is nearby he will notice it and either examine the light bulb or turning the lights back on which leaves an opportunity to take him out. There is a new way to hack doors or other things. You have to match a wave length with the original one to get the right code. This way seems more fun to do. The sticky camera also looks and works really well. The thing I like is the levels you go to. There are 9 missions and 3 bonus missions that can be unlocked by inputting a code into the Essentials web site. Cool thing is that you find these codes in certain computers and locations. Frag grenades and flash grenades also work well. Also during the game I see a few glitches, like when yon knock out a guy near a wall. When his body falls his body goes through the wall. Also while I was hacking a door, a guy from the other side said he saw something. I was wondering why he said that, then I used the optic cable he came rushing into the room. I found that odd that a guy could see through a wall but it doesn't happen often so it's fine. I almost forgot to mention that the "3 alarms and the mission is over" thing is back again. Essentials has all you expect in a Splinter cell game, its fun playing this too.

Audio 7/10
All the voice acting where great. Also the enemies conversations where good to. You have your laser mic again and eavesdropping on phone calls sound good too. You can still hear your footsteps and the enemies. Also the environment sounds good. You can still hear crickets and stuff.

Multiplayer ?/10
There's a multiplayer in this game for 1 vs. 1 action. It only works on ad-hoc so I didn't have a chance to try it out, because I'm the only person I know who has essentials in my neighborhood or country

Replayablity 6/10
You are not graded in any mission for some reason so you don't have a chance to get a 100% in the missions, because you can't tell if you did well or not. But for me I just like going through the mission again trying to find new routes and other ways to sneak around.

Overall 9/10
Ubi-soft finally made an excellent portable Splinter cell game. This is a great addition to the series. I really enjoyed this. And for those who wonder if this game is worth playing. I say it IS worth playing. If you love sneaking in the shadows, I recommend Essentials.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/14/06

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