Splinter Cell Essentials
Splinter Cell dropped this week, so get yourself up to speed on Sam Fisher's stealthy PSP antics...
Once upon a time, Sam Fisher and his many adventures were that of an unproven concept, as many dismissed the series as nothing more than a wannabe guest in a house built by Metal Gear creator, Hideo Kojima. These days, no one questions who Sam Fischer is, doubts the quality of the Splinter Cell series that he stars in, or dare ponders where he sleeps at night. That's because acclaimed versions of the series have already graced more platforms that we can probably count, and in just a few years, Sam Fischer and Splinter Cell have gone from virtual no-names, to distilled video game ubiquity.
Splinter Cell Essentials is the inaugural outing for Sam Fischer on the PSP, but by no means is he a stranger to handheld platforms. Sam's already graced the Game Boy Advanced, Nokia N-Gage, Nintendo DS, and even mobile phones, all greeted with mixed reviews. Considering the original Xbox iterations of the game served as visual benchmarks during their time, it was only a matter of when before the powerful PSP had its first crack at the series. Exactly what kind of game should Splinter Cell fans expect from Essentials? More importantly, has Ubi Soft done anything to address some of the complaints voiced by those who've experienced past handheld incarnations?
Due to the PSP's track record regarding ports, most figured Splinter Cell Essentials would be a port of a previous game in the catalog, or maybe even a slim-and-trimmed version of the not-yet-released, Splinter Cell: Double Agent, due soon on home consoles. While it contains virtually everything that has made the home console versions so popular - weapons, maneuvers (lock picking, whistling, shimmying walls, split-jumps, etc.) and even a few missions from past outings - it's still built from the ground up on the PSP. For instance, considering that the hardware lacks the convenience of a second analog stick, camera functionality is a concern that Ubi Soft has had to address. Thus, camera control is initiated by holding down the circle button, which acts as a toggle switch to map camera controls to the analog nub. Does that slow and hinder the on the fly camera adjustment featured on home consoles? Yes, but apparently it's something that can become second nature with a just little practice.
Graphically speaking, Essentials shows plenty of promise, easily comparing to that of some of the PSP's better looking titles. The wide screen does the stealthy action fair justice, and unsurprisingly, it blows every other handheld rendition of the series out of the H20. Like many PSP titles, our main concern lies with the amount of load time, which apparently can be on the lengthy end of the stick. Let's hope that Ubi Soft can address the load time issues by the time the game arrives in stores.
Besides the camera controls and the load times, Splinter Cell Essentials is as close to a home console version of the series as you can possibly get. It's got virtually all of the maneuvers and options that fans have become accustomed to, and unlike previous versions, it refuses to compromise gameplay elements just because of its handheld status. Those of you that have been waiting for a new addition to the series may want to join the party, and welcome Sam Fischer to his PSP debut.