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Well it all started on my birthday, I was the very happy recipient of a PSP. One day I may even write a review about this most wonderful beast. For now however I will confine myself to one game that I have played and completed.
Tom Clancys Splinter Cell Essentials
You play (control) the part of Sam Fisher, Sam is a spy and you guide him through various missions. Although you will kill people during this game, the real skills needed are-
Stealth- sneaking up on the enemy or getting past them unseen.
Patience- not running forward gung ho, but staying put until the enemy move away.
Logical thinking- you may find yourself in situations where you cannot seem to do anything, stop have another look at the task, then instead of rushing round like a headless chicken, think, see if there is a different approach, you may be carrying something that will help you or you may have missed a door, maybe something to climb up etc.
I dont want to give the game away , I hope you will have as much fun as I did in playing this therefore I will not give you specific details that could spoil your game play. Just remember this game is not a shoot em up, it is more a thinking mission based game.
As this game is played on the PSP you will be using the controls on that. There is a hard core group of Splinter Cell players, a lot who have tried this game on the PSP have moaned about the way the camera angle is worked and how hard they have found it. On a personal note, I have not played any Splinter Cell games on any format before this, I found no problem with the set up of the controls and playing the game with the original configuration (default) had no problems for me whatsoever. Although the instruction booklet gives you full details on what the various buttons do (as well as the alternate control set up), below is a brief description of the default control set up.
Analogue stick, this controls Sams movements. When you press the O button, then it will first centre the camera behind Sam and then you can move the angle round in an area that roughly equates to what Sam could see from the position he is in at that time (this is very handy when you want to look round an area but do not want Sam moving and therefore being discovered by anyone).
Triangle button, simply jump.
Square button, this changes Sam to a crouch when standing or a stand when crouching, also it enables him to drop when he his hanging from something.
Circle button, Ive already described its use when describing the analogue stick.
Cross button, this is the button you will use when interacting with certain parts of the game, the best way to describe it is the return key on a computer. for example if your hacking a lock, you will use the analogue stick to match the wave length then when you have it correct you will enter this by pressing the cross button.
Up starts zoom (for binoculars, telescopic sights etc) and increases magnification.
Down decreases magnification and exit from zoom.
Right (>) draw weapon.
Left (<) changes your mode of vision, it depends on your mission and therefore the equipment you have, but it can for instance allow you night vision, this is very handy in missions at night where you need to stay in shadows and hidden from the enemy.
L and R button (Buttons on the top edge of the PSP), These are both vitally important as in some missions you must not kill people, therefore you need to make a NON lethal attack (L button) as opposed to a lethal attack (R button).
The instruction manual, Some manuals do not give a feel for the game, they can be poorly put together, hard to understand and even pointless. With this none of the aforementioned is the case, it is easy to understand and digest, it gave me a feel for the game before I started to play it.
Although small at only 20 pages, it has; getting started, starting up, introduction, the game, Sams actions and movements, weapons gadgets and items, multiplayer, technical support and warranty. I would recommend that anyone new to this game takes the time to have a good read of this before starting the game, also have it to hand to refer to it as you learn how the game is played.
Depending on the mission depends on what equipment Sam has, some missions will have night vision goggles, some will have powerful microphones as well as an array of guns. Be warned on some missions Sam will have no weapons at all.
I found this to be a challenging game, as I could not just run head first at the enemy guns blazing, in fact during some of the missions I was instructed not to kill anyone, of course when I did allow a stray bullet to fly into an enemy, the mission ended instantly.
You have to complete the missions in order, then you can advance to the next mission, although a little frustrating this does have the advantage of giving me a sense of achievement when I completed a mission.
Also as long as you have a memory stick to save your game you can try the missions that you have completed again (This I will be doing as I still have not unlocked the bonus missions).
Cheats, Well they may exist for this game, I never use them, I cannot see the point of spending £30 on a game and completing it in under two hours, because I have all the weapons and cannot be killed.
Bonus missions, as far as I am concerned they are a way of prolonging the game, mainly because I have not as yet unlocked them. Therefore I will have to replay the completed missions. This is no hardship to me as I work on the principle that I want to get as many enjoyable hours of game play for my money. Therefore if I get 60 hours from a game that costs £30 then that equates to 50p per hour, that is great value as far as I am concerned. However if a game cost £15 and only gave me 3 hours of enjoyable game play then I would consider that poor value at £5 per hour.
Another huge plus with this game is that you can save at any point, this gave me a huge advantage when tackling difficult parts of the mission, what I tended to do was save the game just before a difficult part then if I did not succeed all I had to do was return to that point and try again rather than start further back.
Multiplayer mode, I cannot really comment on this part of the game as I have not had the opportunity to play this as you need someone with another PSP. But if it plays as well as the game does in single player mode then it should be very enjoyable, I hope to get the chance to try it one day in the not too distant future.
I also enjoyed the video cuts, as this gave me a feel for the game and a sense of knowing what had happened in previous versions of this game.
If I had to find one thing wrong with this game, it would be that I had a feeling that the manufacturers of this game expected me to already know what the splinter cell series was all about, if the previous games had been on the PSP format then I may well have had an idea, I suppose they could solve this by converting the previous games for the PSP and maybe releasing them as a bargain bundle (well I can dream). In the meantime all I can do is hope that they release a new game in the next few months, still at least until that time I can replay the missions and hopefully unlock some (if not all) of the secret missions.
I found this to be one of those games that I did not want to put down, each mission offered new challenges, each completed mission gave me a sense of satisfaction.
For those who enjoy a challenge and a game where killing the enemy is not the only objective, then I recommend this game.
As I explained earlier in this review I have come up with a rating system that makes it easier for me to rate a game, therefore my rating for this game is a sit2020 CPH rating of less than 50p and the price may yet get better depending on how I find replaying to get to the bonus missions.