Sam Fisher is best known for his exploits on consoles and the PC, but he’s a veteran of the portable game world as well. With Splinter Cell releases on the N-Gage, DS, and mobile phones, it was only a matter of time before the grizzled agent sneaked his way on to the PSP. But despite what its title would have you believe, Splinter Cell Essentials is entirely avoidable.
Splinter Cell Essentials is somewhat of a Sam Fisher’s Greatest Hits compilation, bringing a handful of missions from each of the three released games, as well as several brand-new missions. And, like a greatest hits album, there’s no continuity or context to tie it all together. You just jump from one mission to another, spanning a couple of decades of Sam Fisher’s illustrious career as a shadow-loving badass. There is an attempt to tie the missions together, but it’s a weak effort. Essentials takes place just after the events in Splinter Cell: Double Agent. The game opens with Sam paying a visit to his daughter’s grave on the one-year anniversary of her death. It turns out that Sam ditched the Third Echelon and went missing after his daughter died, and was reported to be associating with known terrorists. This has Homeland Security worried, so they track Sam down, arrest him, and start demanding answers about his past.
In the same way that Ubisoft converted Prince of Persia: Warrior Within to Prince of Persia Revelations for the PlayStation Portable, so too has it released an updated version of Two Thrones for the Wii and PSP with Prince of Persia Rival Swords. The Prince’s last foray on the PSP was marred by a litany of sound bugs, as well as some unfortunate load times. These issues were clearly addressed in Rival Swords, and while not entirely resolved, their impact is less substantial. Rival Swords, then, is a great translation of Two Thrones, and no doubt through some time-altering voodoo, Ubisoft has padded out the PSP package with some worthwhile additions, making this the most content-laden version of them all.
Rival Swords/Two Thrones is the conclusion of the Sands of Time trilogy, but the homecoming hasn’t gone down according to the Prince’s plan. Instead of a sedate life spent getting fat and carousing with the Empress of Time, he finds Babylon burning, a foe once defeated returning immortal, and some maniacal madman installing wicked-confusing elevator systems throughout his city. Vexing for sure, made all the worse when his charge is stabbed in the gut and he inadvertently turns himself into a sand demon. Turns out, using magic to mess with space-time has a nasty way of coming full circle to kick you in the teeth, so by rescuing the Empress from her fate in Warrior Within, the Prince effectively negated his actions in the trilogy’s first game, The Sands of Time. What this means is that the Vizier was free to enact his plans of world domination, and, after sidestepping a few plot holes, he promptly does. So, after joining forces again with an old ally for the first time, you’re off to rectify your actions by bouncing around all nimbly-bimbly and skewering creeps with a blade–two skills the Prince happens to excel at.