things don't always come in small packages. by
29, 2006 - Case
in point, Splinter Cell: Essentials. The small PSP
control system just isn't flexible enough for Sam
Fisher. He's reduced to the prowess of a fat, drunken
trucker - relatively speaking.
the death of his daughter, Sam Fisher is located in
New Orleans in the company of a female terrorist.
He is subsequently charged and brought to NSA headquarters
where he is interrogated and given a chance to explain
his involvement with this terrorist organization.
His tales take us back to episodes and missions from
past games, but these aren't just repeat missions,
they are new missions that feature new situations
and locations. Thank God this isn't a "Best of"
package. We even get to go back to the days before
Splinter Cell when Sam was a Staff Sargent in the
Cell is known for its blend of action and stealth.
In past games you would alternate between weapons
and gadgets, non-lethal and lethal force. Things have
changed in this version. The control system does not
allow for a lot of finesse and instead seems to favor
killing over non-lethal knockouts. Why bother spending
all that time trying to sneak up on someone when you
can just shoot them? It doesn't help that you can
only move slowly or quickly. You can't vary the in-between
speeds. Perhaps the guard is just about to turn around
and you're not close enough to grab him. You will
either have to lunge at him or shoot him from a distane.
Often when you attempt a non-lethal takedown the subject
will shoot you while he is falling. It sucks to get
shot like that when you're low on health or ammo and
it doesn't do much to promote non-lethal kills.
movement is controlled with the left stick, and it's
not bad but the right analog stick is missing and
therefore you can't look around unless you stop and
press the circle button. Tapping the circle button
will reset the camera to the center. Since you can't
move and look around at the same time, it's very difficult
to sneak up on guards if you can't see where they
paper, Sam may appear to have a good selection of
moves but some of them can be very awkward to access.
He can crouch, jump, fire his weapons and interact
with object easily enough but that's because these
commands only require one button. Some of the controls
do double duty such as the stick that is normally
used to move Sam around suddenly controls the aiming
reticle of the weapons when you are in shooting mode.
At this time the face buttons control Sam's movements
(forward, backward, left and right.) These face button
commands are very slow and if you detect someone behind
you and you have to turn around, good luck.
awkwardness comes from the D-pad. It will issue different
commands for each of the four positions that it can
be moved to (up, down, left and right) but it will
issue a total of eight commands depending on whether
you hold the pad in the intended direction or just
tap it. If you hold the pad in the right position
you will draw your weapon and reload it if necessary.
However, if you tap the pad to the right, you will
holster your weapon. In the middle of a gunfight it
can be very easy to accidentally tap the pad to the
right while attempting to reload. This will cause
you to get rid of your weapon and unable to defend
the D-pad in either the up or down direction will
zoom your scope in and out. Holding the D-pad in the
up position will access your inventory and holding
it down will allow you to whistle, which is one of
the ways to get a guard's attention. Holding the pad
in the left direction lets you hug a wall so as to
avoid detection from the guards, and tapping in that
direction accesses your night vision goggles. I can't
tell you how many times I ended up wearing my goggles
instead of hugging a wall. It's obvious that these
controls are not intuitive but the more you play the
game the more comfortable you get with them. But it's
still too easy to make a mistake, and even though
I am totally aware of the difference between holding
and tapping, I'm not convinced that the CPU does.
is best performed in the dark but the game itself
is exceptionally dark. I experienced a lot of glare
from alternate, ambient light sources and in some
missions it's just about impossible to see no matter
what I did. I ended up using the night vision goggles
for way too many missions. When you use them it's
difficult to see the natural shadows in the environment
where you can hide. There is a gauge that allows you
to see your level of visibility to the guards. It's
very helpful in situations such as this. You also
want to remain quiet when sneaking around. Make a
sudden move or a loud noise and you'll alert the guards
to your presence. It makes for some very tense situations
which are further exacerbated by the messy and touchy
incredible SC-20K assault rifle is back along with
all of its attachments such as the grenade launchers
which make it a very flexible and valuable weapon.
Virtually all of the gadgets from past games are available
including the lock pick, sticky camera, ring foil
and gas grenades. When you can't use weapons or gadgets,
Sam's got some moves of his own that can be downright
deadly. He can break an enemy's neck with his bear
hands or slice his throat from ear to ear with his
knife. He can climb just about anything, shimmy on
ledges and even use zip lines. When all else fails
he can throw some punches.
this game can't compare to the PS2 version. The quality
is degraded to the level of the PSX. The animation
is good and overall the environments are nicely rendered
in 3D - when you can see them. But there are some
annoyingly long load times. Everything about the audio
rocks. From Michael Ironside's laconic voiceover to
the soundtrack, you'll want to experience all of this
ear candy. Get your headphone on.
is limited to the ad hock wireless system. You can
play Spy vs. Spy or standard Deathmatch. These modes
suffer from all of the same problems that the single-player
mode does. Only those with incredible patience will
be able to tame the control system and make this game
work for them. Overall I found it to be a total disappointment
and while you can say that it's better than the DS
version, that's not saying much at all.
Cell is a game that has pushed the envelope of the
next-gen consoles. To release this game on a handheld
is to have that envelope pushed back with "Return
to Sender" marked on it.
system debut: The highest-rated and top-selling
spy franchise hits the PSP system for the first
time, pushing the boundaries of yet another platform.
specifically for the PSP system: Unique gameplay
sequences designed specifically for the on-the-go
nature of handheld gaming with a new adapted interface.
content: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Essentials starts
where Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent ends,
and takes players to the years before Tom Clancy's
Splinter Cell when Sam was still a Navy Seal.
game of gadgets for your gadget: Features all the
weapons and gadgets from the Tom Clancy's Splinter
Cell franchise, in addition to some new ones exclusive
to the PSP system version.
wi-fi multiplayer: Challenge your friends in Spy
vs. Spy Deathmatch multiplayer mode.