Splinter Cell Essentials is a hand-held "sequel" to Splinter Cell: Double Agent, with a story that explains the events after Double Agent and revisits previous missions from the original game's, as well as flashback missions of his Navy SEAL day's, levels made exclusive for the PSP, such as a mission in the jungle of Columbia back in 1992. In total there are nine missions to play in the story modes as well as three unlockable bonus missions.
The core gameplay is still the same, using stealth and shadows to eliminate or subdue targets, collect information and such. The controls have been slightly modified for the PSP, the analog being used for movement while the d-pad is used for the inventory screen, but the most notable feature is holding the "O" button will allow the player to pan around with the camera, while a single tap will reset the camera directly back to the third-person perspective.
As before, gadgets such as night vision, thermal, as well as lockpicks and weapons from the previous games return as well as a new feature designed exclusively for the game, where players can challenge a human opponent via Ad-Hoc in an online spy vs. spy deathmatch.