• Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Release Date: Mar 21, 2006

Mixed or average reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 37
  2. Negative: 10 out of 37
Buy On
  1. I wish I could say that a lack of true wireless online gameplay and sometimes frustrating controls would make me want to not play Splinter Cell: Essentials. But then I would be lying. The missions and the level designs make the game so fun overall to play that it hides some of the weaknesses in the controls.
  2. Official Playstation 2 Magazine UK
    This classic series has been lovingly translated for PSP. It's a great stealth fix, although you do want to switch the lights on sometimes. [Apr 2006, p.93]
  3. If you long for those days then Splinter Cell Essentials is right up your street. Not only do some of the missions recall Sam's early years, the game as a whole is one long flashback to the hardcore stealth of old.
  4. Game Informer
    I definitely enjoyed Essentials and how it ties into the rest of the series, as will other Splinter Cell fans. [May 2006, p.112]
  5. In the areas Essentials does well, it excels, but what it doesn't do well keeps it from the must buy list for all but the most hardcore Sam Fisher fans unfortunately.
  6. PSM2 Magazine UK
    An object lesson in why certain games probably shouldn't make the transition to PSP - wait for "Double Agent" on PS2 instead and enjoy the 'Cell experience in all its intended glory. [May 2006, p.74]
  7. Play UK
    Fans of the series should be prepared for a fight if they want to get the most out of the game. [Issue#139, p.75]
  8. Splinter 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.
  9. Sure to disappoint fans of the franchise, but may be a nice "lite" introduction to newcomers.
  10. PSM Magazine
    The PSP has no camera-maneuvering second analog stick, making the spy's portable debut a frustrating chore. [Jun 2006, p.85]
  11. Splinter Cell Essentials is nonessential for any Sam Fisher fan.
  12. 63
    Every facet of the console games appears in full form, but most of it suffers from poor execution. Whether it's the controls, presentation or multiplayer, you can't help but feel Essentials shipped months too early.
  13. Splinter Cell Essentials would more be appropriately entitled “Splinter Cell Frustrations”.
  14. If you aren’t an experienced Splinter Cell player, or found the game tricky on the Xbox, then the controls will likely be confounding and the other issues not worth dealing with. Nice try Ubi, but no cigar.
  15. The potential is here – the game just needs to cook for a few more hours before it’s ready for consumption.
  16. Even though the game has the spirit of previous Splinter Cell titles, not to mention the exact missions, it's without innovation and comes off as a stale installment in an otherwise fantastic series.
  17. Edge Magazine
    Despite a fair few moments of awe, the governing and familiar impression here is of compromise. The vivid aesthetic and precise audio of the console versions have respectively been mellowed and overplayed, the design beaten into handheld shape and accordingly bruised. [Apr 2006, p.93]
  18. games(TM)
    It isn’t the PSP debut we had hoped for. With a short lifespan and old missions, let’s hope this is the beginning of the end for what has been a strong franchise. [Apr 2006, p.114]
  19. 60
    The beauty of Splinter Cell games has always been the flexibility and fluidity of their controls, especially on the Xbox. But Splinter Cell: Essentials fails to adapt the mechanics to the PSP, and the end result is a frustrating experience with lengthy load times -- an overall trimmed experience.
  20. 60
    If we hadn't spent so much time recently with the superb "Syphon Filter," maybe the deficiencies wouldn't be so glaring. But once you've seen PSP stealth done right, there's no going back.
  21. So despite high production values, highlighted by another stellar turn by Ironside, there are too many frustrations for anyone but the most staunch Splinter Cell fanatic to try and stomach.
  22. While its interesting story ties in with the upcoming Splinter Cell: Double Agent for the major consoles, an interesting plot just isn’t enough to distract us from the poor visuals, atrocious controls and long load times.
  23. Unfortunately, due to some bad controls, oppressively dark levels, and a worthless multiplayer mode, the result is a game that is more frustrating than it is rewarding.
  24. This is not a game worthy of the Splinter Cell title. It feels rushed, forced and, worst of all, like a quick cash-in on a franchise that's move into the next-generation of consoles.
  25. It's official. Splinter Cell is not meant to be a portable game. I think these other reviewers are too forgiving because Splinter Cell's so great to begin with. But I'm a fan of the series, and I think this one stinks.
  26. The camera never becomes comfortable and the graphical glitches are an embarrassment to the development team, the publisher and the player.
  27. The game does feel rushed, but with a scarcity of militaristic shooters, this Splinter Cell title, though flawed, isn't a horrible choice for PSP owners looking for a stealth-action fix.
  28. A lackadaisical, recycled romp that tries to emulate the Splinter Cell experience. But without the good graphics, A.I. or multiplay, all it does is put the “Why?!” in spy.
  29. This game should have been as good and as much of a departure as the upcoming Splinter Cell is; instead, its gameplay piddles around with everything the series has already established.
  30. 40
    The most hardcore Splinter Cell fan might want to try to overlook the game's problems for its new levels, I suppose. What's most upsetting is what could have been.
  31. 40
    Even Sam's biggest fans will disappointed by this mediocre title, especially those that are expecting the same type of experience they've gotten used to on the consoles.
  32. Official U.S. Playstation Magazine
    This is one of the least user-friendly gameplay experiences I've had in some time. [May 2006, p.90]
  33. 40
    The idea is sound, but the execution most definitely isn't.
  34. Splinter Cell Essentials is an example of a game that simply isn't suited to the control limitations of the PSP. If you can get past the camera issues (which is a big ask), you're still going to have a less than brilliant experience due to the dumb AI.
  35. The AI is so basic that it is possible to rush through many areas without fear of getting hurt or even getting noticed. Even if you do decide you’re going to take it slow, it is a lottery as to whether some enemies will detect you or not.
  36. To make an embarrassing story short, Splinter Cell: Essentials is a mess. For a series that leads the stealth genre and has worked hard to make itself more accessible and more polished with each successive sequel, an entry like this—even on a portable— can only be seen as a miserable failure.
  37. Computer Games Magazine
    Controls are so poor that Sam might as well be fighting the forces of evil blindfolded. [July 2006, p.92]

Awards & Rankings

#11 Most Discussed PSP Game of 2006
#22 Most Shared PSP Game of 2006
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 42 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 42
  2. Negative: 8 out of 42
  1. Jun 1, 2017
    I picked this game up for my PSTV for 3.49. I'm a big fan of metal gear solid and thought that I should give Splinter Cell a shot.

    I picked this game up for my PSTV for 3.49. I'm a big fan of metal gear solid and thought that I should give Splinter Cell a shot.

    Perhaps I should've picked something else...

    The game controls like utter **** thanks to the PSP not having a second analog stick. You have to toggle between camera controls and action controls and it all feels clunky and terrible.

    For a PSP game, the game looks absolutely terrible. Mind you, this is the same system that brought us Midnight Club, Portable Ops and Resistance.

    All in all, SC Essentials is a stealth game ruined by clunky controls and horrible graphics...
    Full Review »
  2. May 9, 2012
    Amazing game indeed. Played it through holding my breath! Stealth elements are made very well, the storyline is also catchy.
  3. JordanS.
    May 24, 2007
    This is an amazing game. the graphics are very good although i found that for most of the game i had to play using night vision. I like howThis is an amazing game. the graphics are very good although i found that for most of the game i had to play using night vision. I like how splinter cell essentials tells the whole story of the splinter cell saga through the different missions. Full Review »