Sam Fisher, stealthy special-ops hero of the „Splinter Cell‰ series of games, has undertaken his hardest job ˆ sneaking onto the handheld PlayStation Portable.

This time, Fisher may be in a no-win battle.

While he never infiltrates anything without the right gear, the PSP is clearly ill-equipped for this adventure. „Essential basically botches the essentials.

For starters, the controls are tricky to master. When in stealth mode, the analog stick controls both the spy‚s movement and the camera when a button is held down.

When you draw a weapon, however, the controls shift dramatically.

The analog stick suddenly controls aiming and looking around, and movements are controlled with the face buttons. While both seem to work all right, neither feels precise.

That‚s not all that ails „Essentials. The visuals are a bit disjointed.

Part of it comes from the fact that our hotshot espionage hero is too large and the screen is often too grainy and dark, even when using the night-vision goggles.

Despite everything that feels lackluster, the game somehow manages to still be fun. If you've played other „Splinter Cell titles, you know what to expect ˆ lots of sneaking about in shadows.

The multiplayer mode, limited to local wireless spy vs. spy, isn't really that great an addition.

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.