5 | Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Early in its development, Peace Walker was actually codenamed Metal Gear Solid 5. That fact alone makes an interesting statement about the role that this PSP game plays in the story of Big Boss, a.k.a. Naked Snake, and his eventual creation of Outer Heaven. But while Peace Walker may not be a console release in direct line with bigger titles like Snake Eater and Guns of the Patriots, this game is much more than a random side project.
Peace Walker makes quite a few changes to the Metal Gear formula that you won't find in a typical Hideo Kojima Production. For one, you don't have to fight this war alone -- with the new "Co-Ops" missions, you can join up with a friend to tackle missions as a team, and even gather up to four players for the boss battles. Being able to effectively cover your friend's six brings a new element of strategy into Metal Gear Solid, and with different sets of equipment for different playing styles, you can choose to be a Rambo-like combatant or a stealthy snake in the grass.
Since Big Boss is also raising an army in this game, you can spend tons of time in Peace Walker recruiting troops for your personal military force. With the new "Mother Base" feature, you can delegate your troops to specific tasks, from medical supplies to intelligence gathering. As long as you keep your army's morale high and their skill sets growing, Snake will reap the rewards with better gear and more mission tools, making Mother Base the key to winning the war.
4 | LittleBigPlanet
LittleBigPlanet, like the real world, is always changing. When it comes to customization, LBP stacks the deck with a deep and intricate level building system that employs realistic physics and varied gameplay. Thousands among thousands of gamers have already constructed many memorable levels from the toolset that Media Molecule has provided, and the PSP version retains a many features that made the console version a Game of the Year candidate.
Even though Sackboy flies solo in the PSP port of LittleBigPlanet, all the tools he needs are intact, despite the fact that this admittedly huge game has been shrunken down to handheld proportions. Rather than try to emulate the full multiplayer experience of LBP, SCEE Cambridge took a different approach by focusing on single-player platforming action, which remains a solid representation of Media Molecule's game. New areas from locales like the Orient and Australia await gamers that pick up the PSP port, and downloading more levels online (or creating your own) is both easier and more user friendly than you'd expect, especially when you explore what the Community Moon has to offer.
Aside from the level building mechanics, LittleBigPlanet PSP also lets you customize your Sackboy mascot in hundreds of ways. With pre-made items like clothing, weapons, and masks, you can give the characters a customized look. And if you want to make a nod to your favorite video game, several developers have also added character models to the mix, ranging from God of War's Kratos to the World Warriors from Street Fighter. Along with that, every creation you make in the game can be posted online via the PlayStation Network community, as well as the LittleBigWorkshop, where you can share level ideas, blueprints, and even tackle challenges against other players. It's a single-player game that shouldn't be played alone.
3 | Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Chinatown Wars on the PSP may not look like more familiar Grand Theft Auto titles such as Liberty City Stories and Vice City, but looks aren't everything. While the DS version makes frequent use of the touch screen to emulate the feeling of hotwiring cars, mixing drugs in your private lab, and etching tattoos into fellow gang members, Rockstar Games had the unenviable option of trying to translate much of the gameplay into the PSP's control scheme. Not only did it work, but Rockstar also transferred GTA: Chinatown Wars to the PlayStation Portable without taking anything away from the DS version.
As the game's title implies, the story of Chinatown Wars focuses around Chinese gang warfare, with protagonist Huang Lee arriving in town after the murder of his father, a Triad boss. Not long after Lee arrives, violence breaks out as various factions in Liberty City try to eliminate each other and take control of the city, which kicks off hours of gameplay that highlight Rockstar's trademark narrative skills. With various mini-games geared toward activities that you'd expect from a real life of crime, there's a lot of variety to be found early on.
Actually, the PSP port of Chinatown Wars sets itself apart even further from its DS counterpart in a few ways. For one, the classic top-down perspective that harkens back to older Grand Theft Auto titles takes advantage of the extra real estate that's provided with the PSP's widescreen. Even though it's largely a difference of inches, the visuals and controls are supported by the larger screen. Along with updated graphics and a modified control scheme, Chinatown Wars on PSP also contains extra missions that expand on the original version, with bonus content exclusive to the PSP port. If you're a PSP owner and a GTA fan that hasn't rolled with the Triads yet, Chinatown Wars can be found anywhere for $20 or less -- so get it before it's rare.
2 | God of War: Chains of Olympus
Kratos may have made a name for himself on the PlayStation 2, but his PSP adventures also feature high production values that make Chains of Olympus one of the best PSP games on shelves right now. Crisp graphics, detailed art design, and the series' trademark combat all come together quite impressively in this prequel, as developer Ready at Dawn provides the famous Spartan with a backstory that expertly sets the scene for the first God of War.
Going back to the early days of his servitude to the Gods of Olympus, the story starts with Kratos obliterating the entire Persian army (in true Spartan fashion) and revolves around a mysterious plot to destroy the world. Throughout the narrative, several characters come into play that are later seen in God of War III -- such as Helios, Zeus, and Persephone -- while Kratos faces task after monumental task in order to restore order to the world. References to future events in the series also hold extra meaning for gamers who have already played though the main God of War titles, giving this side story a great deal of importance to the overall saga.
1 | God of War: Ghost of Sparta
Introducing yet another blood-filled backstory to the tragic tale of Kratos, God of War: Ghost of Sparta brings new weapons and magical abilities to the PSP. Complete with a handful of extra modes for series fans, the story in Ghost of Sparta reveals much about Kratos' childhood, his family, and the dark and violent prophecy that brought him into conflict with Olympus itself. Not only is this a much bigger game than the already impressive Chains of Olympus, developers Ready At Dawn clearly push the PlayStation Portable to its graphical limits with this title.
Screen-filling bosses are just part of the increased polish, as the enemy encounters really let the Blades of Chaos fly. There's blood, broken bones, and miles of flesh to carve through to get to the game's final conclusion, and true to form, it's just as exciting as the console titles. Kratos may be smaller on the PSP, but he's every bit as violent and angry as a God of War should be.