It's no easy task squeezing a complex game into a portable package. Developers struggle against a bunch of stuff, not the least of which is strict hardware limitations. So when it comes to a game as sophisticated as Splinter Cell, things become even more complicated. These complications ultimately keep Splinter Cell Essentials from achieving greatness. And yes, it could have been great. Even with handheld engineering conundrums, the recent crop of PSP offerings prove that developers can make astounding products for the PSP given sufficient time and resources.
That's just not the case with Essentials. It feels rushed, even slightly broken during certain parts. Beyond this, the game plays as though it doesn't belong on the PSP. It yearns for a second analog stick and an extra pair of buttons, for instance. Not only that, it suffers quite a bit in the performance department - you'll rarely see the game running smoothly. Making matters worse is that Essentials doesn't look all that spectacular. This from a series that always pushes the boundaries of current technology.