PSP Reviews M-N

Manhunt 2
Grade: B-
Publisher: Rockstar (2007)
Reviewed: 2007/11/23
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, strong language, strong sexual content, use of drugs)

screenshotThis portable edition of Manhunt 2 is arguably better than the console versions. Graphics that look modest on the Playstation 2 look really good on the PSP, and the high-contrast PSP screen makes the environments look extra dark and gritty. The controls are identical to the PS2 version, except you have to hold in L and R to target an enemy (instead of just holding the left trigger).

Manhunt 2 isn't as involved or tedious as most stealth games, and unlike real life, it's fun to visit sleazy, red light districts of town. Playing a prisoner on the run, you'll turn the tables on your pursuers using axes, clubs, needles, grocery bags, and whatever else is lying around. The key to the game is sneaking up on victims and methodically executing them one by one.

Much has been made of the game's brutal violence, but rapid-fire camera angles and seizure-inducing flashing effects ensure you'll never get a good look at your own handiwork. The gurgling and crunching audio effects are probably the grossest aspect of the game.

I really like how this portable version automatically saves your progress when you reach a checkpoint, unlike console versions where you have to save from a menu. With its short missions, simple controls, and handy auto-save, Manhunt 2 is ideal for killing on the go. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

MediEvil Resurrection
Grade: C
Publisher: Sony (2005)
Reviewed: 2020/10/2
Rating: Teen

screenshotThis is why people found it so hard to get excited about the PSP: too few original titles! Medievil Resurrection is just a "reimagining" of the original MediEvil (PS1, 1998). I knew it seemed familiar! The game stars a skeletal knight resurrected to redeem his legacy by fighting zombies, demons, and ghouls in graveyards, mausoleums, and castles. The villain is a creepy jester dude with a lanky body and exaggerated facial features.

You'll explore spooky but highly-constrained locations while hacking away at monsters and collecting runes to unlock new areas. I like those maniacs running around in pillories! There are simple puzzles, books on podiums that provide clues, and statues that let you purchase items. The tongue-in-cheek voice acting is well done and the operatic music has a macabre flair.

While it may be a remake, I will admit Resurrection's graphics are much improved and the widescreen helps too. Close camera angles reveal detailed scenery and characters that are far less angular than the original game. The game can feel claustrophobic at times, and it's sometimes hard to differentiate hallways or determine your proximity from dangerous spikes.

But the thing I really hate is that omni-present fly-swatter weapon. Occasionally you'll upgrade to a sword or club, but they quickly wear out and then it's back to that worthless fly swatter (arm, whatever). The controls aren't great either. Maybe that weird thumb-slider is to blame, but attempting to position yourself in front of enemies is clumsy at best. The most effective strategy is to back up against a wall and attack continuously as enemies funnel towards you.

The ability to purchase items would be great if money wasn't so hard to come by. When it comes to PSP games MediEvil Resurrection is par for the course. It has a nice Halloween vibe but it's a pretty tough sell for those of us who have already been there and done that. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Mega Man Powered Up
Grade: D
Publisher: Capcom (2006)
Reviewed: 2006/6/14
Rating: Everyone (cartoon violence)

screenshotI find it curious how many critics regard this as one of the best titles for the PSP. Such sad, misguided souls they are. Mega Man Powered Up attempts to "update" the original Mega Man (NES, 1987), retaining the 2D style of play but rendering the objects in 3D. The original game was a groundbreaking platformer, where the main character could select his stage and accumulate weapons from bosses he defeated.

Powered Up has two modes: "new style" and "old style". The new style mixes things up a bit and offers new bosses and stages. I like how you can select your difficulty level at the beginning of each stage. Progressing through the game, Mega Man accumulates powers like the ability to slow time, throw bombs, and freeze opponents. You can toggle between these and even use them in conjunction with each other.

Unfortunately, although Powered Up tries to emulate the classic gameplay that made the franchise famous, this actually has a very different feel - and it's not necessarily better. The fact that the objects are much larger changes the dynamics quite a bit, making it easier to run out of real estate on the screen. There's a surprising amount of slowdown, which is unforgivable for a game that requires such precise timing. The control is also very suspect at times.

Defeating a boss not only awards you his weapon, but also allows you to replay the game using that boss. But will you really want to replay it? I doubt it. Powered Up's graphics are sharp and colorful, but lack personality. While the stages each contain a new set of hazards and enemies, they all play pretty much the same.

Some new additions are actually detrimental, like the superfluous cut-scenes and childish dialogue. You can't "kill" a boss in this politically correct age, so Mega Man always has to ask his defeated foe, "Are you okay?" I think I'm going to throw up. The game's auto save mechanism proved problematic, so I was forced to save manually after each stage.

Even the "old style" mode is disappointing. Instead of presenting the game in its original glory, Capcom used the "updated" graphics, which is a shame. Then again, had Capcom included the actual original game, it may have exposed the mediocrity that is Mega Man Powered Up. I know PSP gamers are desperate for some fun 2D action (and rightly so), but let's not kid ourselves here. Mega Man Powered Up is hardly anything to get excited about. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Metal Gear Acid
Grade: F
Publisher: Konami (2005)
Reviewed: 2006/6/13
Rating: Mature (blood, language, suggestive themes, violence)

screenshotFor a game that so many critics liked, I'm amazed at how badly this sucks. Konami took the tried-and-true stealth gameplay of its popular Metal Gear series, and turned it into a turned-based card game. This had to be Konami's idea, because no gamer in his right mind would ever request something like this! To understand how Acid plays, first consider everything you hate about the "normal" Metal Gear Solid games: slow pacing, tedious item management, lengthy cut-scenes, and far-fetched plot twists (to name a few). Multiply that by two, add an extra layer of complexity and confusion, and you get Metal Gear Acid.

There are so many issues with this that I don't even know where to start. First, Acid is not the ideal portable gaming experience - just the opposite! The learning curve is outrageously steep; you'll need to invest a lot of time just learning how the game works. I can't speak for everyone, but when I play a portable game, I prefer to cut to the chase! Even after hours of play I'm still struggling to grasp some of the more basic concepts.

Acid's bizarre storyline is conveyed through lengthy cut-scenes containing excruciating exposition and endless scrolling text. Your radio commander is such a blabbermouth that even our hero Snake frequently voices his displeasure by shouting "Enough of the lectures!" and "Get on with it!" Note to Konami: Feel free to display more than five words on the screen at once - it will save us all a lot of valuable time!

The user interface is counter-intuitive, and even when you get the hang of it, Acid never makes a lot of sense. The guards are complete idiots, heading in random directions even after detecting your presence. You can shoot one guard and another standing just a few feet away will seem completely oblivious. Gunfights at point-blank range are borderline hilarious, as half of the bullets go flying off in random directions! In one stage, I accidentally sat on a grenade, yet still survived to complete the level successfully!

Acid's graphics are fair, but I struggled with the camera angles. The strongest aspect of the game is its synthesized soundtrack. Reviewing Metal Gear Acid was a real chore, especially when I was forced to revisit previous areas. I'm sure there are some patient souls out there who will master Acid's complexity, appreciate its nostalgic references, and perhaps even derive some enjoyment. But I think most gamers will agree that Metal Gear Acid is the type of misguided experiment that gives the PSP a bad name. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Metal Slug XX
Grade: A-
Publisher: Atlus (2010)
Reviewed: 2013/2/24
Rating: Teen (blood, violence)


screenshotThis game is actually Metal Slug 7 - the same one that appeared on the Nintendo DS. Of course, it looks a heck of a lot sweeter on the sharp, wide PSP screen. There's no shortage of frantic 2D mayhem as you forge through beaches, caves, and waterfalls while knifing soldiers and blowing up tanks.

The rapid-fire shooting and auto-fire feature is a match made in heaven. The explosions are incredible, so it's extra satisfying to reduce a tower to rubble or blast helicopters out of the sky. There are some imaginative weapons like "iron lizards" which race across the ground and the "Zantetsu Sword" that makes enemy fire disappear.

You now have the ability to collect two weapons at a time and toggle between them via the shoulder buttons. Metal Slug's comical style is totally over-the-top, and in one stage tanks literally rain from the sky.

At first I was bummed out by the unlimited continues and the way your score doesn't reset. Then a helpful reader pointed out that the last digit of your score indicates the number of continues used, so at least you have that to go by.

All Metal Slug games are fun, but this isn't the best in terms of stage design. Most of the scenery is subterranean, and the mine cart area gets on my nerves. Still, Metal Slug XX is pure arcade fun and frankly there are few games I'd rather play on my PSP. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Midnight Club: LA Remix
Grade: B+
Publisher: Rockstar (2008)
Reviewed: 2009/1/1
Rating: Teen (mild suggestive themes, mild violence, strong lyrics)


screenshotI heaped praise upon Midnight Club for the 360 and PS3, but can this portable edition deliver the same brand of high-speed thrills? Not quite, but it comes admirably close. LA Remix lets you cruise freely around Los Angeles (and later Tokyo) while entering races and challenging other drivers on the road.

The races take you all over town, but your path is usually clearly designated by tall yellow plumes of smoke. This means less peeking at the map, and more weaving through traffic while keeping an eye out for shortcuts.

The smooth graphics are about PS2 quality, allowing you to see a good distance with minimal draw-in. Some of the colorful sunsets are absolutely spectacular. Since the city itself has been scaled down, many races are run over laps instead of one long stretch. The scenery looks realistic but isn't sharp enough to distract you from the racing action.

One big drawback to the smaller screen is that it's harder to see turns and on-coming cars, especially when you kick in your turbo. I experienced a few head-on collisions I did not see coming at all. In addition to turbo boosts, LA Remix also let you initiate "special abilities" like slow-motion (that's "bullet time" in shooters) or "agro" so you can plow through traffic without missing a beat.

The game's audio is surprisingly good. Not only did I like the soundtrack, but it's interesting to hear the crystal clear voices of your competitors in the midst of a heated race. The constant saving and loading is aggravating, but otherwise you'll be hard-pressed to find a better racer for the PSP. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Mortal Kombat Unchained
Grade: D-
Publisher: Midway (2006)
Reviewed: 2007/1/2
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, intense violence)

screenshotI'm not sure what I was expecting from Mortal Kombat Unchained, but it gave me the worst case of deja-vu ever. The opening cinematic looked awesome, but I could have sworn I had seen it before. By the time it ended it became clear that I was watching the opening to Mortal Kombat Deception.

In case you didn't know, Deception was the previous edition of Mortal Kombat released two years ago on the PS2 and Xbox! By the time I reached the main screen, I realized I had purchased an overpriced, scaled-down version of a game I already owned. This game should have been called Deception, because that's exactly what it is!

Granted, there are six additional fighters and a new Endurance mode, but who cares? The graphics and general gameplay is okay, but I found performing throws difficult. I do like how you can kick your foes off platforms, watching them flail wildly as they fall hundreds of feet to their death (although in some cases, they get up and resume fighting). A few of the fighters are pretty cheap, especially the Noob/Smoke tag team with their teleportation and invisibility powers.

But the worst aspect of Unchained is how you're forced to put up with excruciating load screens (with incessant disk grinding) before and after every match. I never had to put up with that on my Xbox! At least the long load screens gave my poor thumb time to recuperate, as the hard PSP buttons are ill-suited for constant mashing.

Unchain's Chess and Puzzle modes also suffer under the new portable format. It's hard to make out the tiny characters in the Chess mode, and with so much loading between confrontations, a match could take all day! Even the Puzzle mode seems less exciting. Mortal Kombat has slowly been losing its mystique over the years, and with this questionable "new" edition, its integrity is now at risk as well. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

NCAA 07 Football
Grade: B-
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2006)
Reviewed: 2011/11/11
Rating: Everyone


screenshotThis old PSP football title is a lot better than you might think. The graphics look terrific, and the small screen nicely hides any imperfections that may exist in the player models. NCAA Football makes excellent use of the screen real estate, packing each edge and corner with information pertinent to the game in progress. The two-man commentator team is lively and does a good job of staying on top of the action.

The controls are set up like any Madden-style game, and while I expected using the right trigger (for sprint) would be problematic, it's not bad at all. Still, it was wise of EA to move the lateral control from the left trigger to the triangle (for option plays). The action on the field is hard-hitting, but the running backs are hard to take down, bouncing off tacklers like a pinball! The kicking game is the worst aspect of the game as the awkward camera angle makes it difficult to aim your kicks. I do like the "alternate defensive view" which provides a nice perspective when attempting to block field goals.

The CPU shows some imagination in its play-calling, sometimes even pulling out trick plays like the flea-flicker. The play selection mechanism is easy to use, but where are the blitz plays on defense? The on-field action is solid, but there's little in the way of college pageantry aside from the sound of the marching band. The game offers a nice selection of modes including a dynasty mode and a head-to-head wi-fi option. If you're into college football and want to play it on the go, NCAA 07 has everything you need. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


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Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com, Arcade Museum