From super spy to public enemy No. 1: One second Sam Fisher is mourning at his daughter’s grave, the next he is arrested by NSA agents and taken for interrogation. Accused of terrorist crimes against the USA, the reputation of the always loyal Third Echelon spy is to be dismantled through eight missions. But the NSA did the calculations without the player, who, through an interactive process of coming to terms with the past, reveals the true course of the operations.
Essentials draws the story arc from the first Splinter Cell-Episode to the one that hasn’t been released yet Double Agent-Part: In addition to a reunion with well-known locations – and implemented almost identically to the original – such as Manhattan or an oil platform, you also sneak through the NSA headquarters, a steelworks in Indiana and the Colombian jungle on the PSP. Level size and interactivity has been trimmed to handheld-friendly dimensions. The environments are more compact and there are no longer as many climbing opportunities, and you can only turn off or disrupt lights and cameras sporadically. Instead, you rely on the darkness of the locations. High-tech in the form of night and thermal vision, hacking devices, lockpicks and distraction systems also have their place in the portable spy thriller.
The noticeably slower pace of play Essentials-Episodes is due to the lack of some buttons on the PSP: the only analog stick is used for both running and camera control, which means that you can no longer carry out the two actions at the same time. The overloaded controls are particularly slow in multiplayer. The two-player versus battles are now strikingly reminiscent of Wild West duels – whoever moves first wins.