Best PSP Games: The Countdown Concludes
Sony's PlayStation Portable has been inspiring game developers and gamers for four years. Friday we began the countdown of the top games; the second batch posted yesterday. Here's the final countdown . . . let us know if you agree, or if we missed any of your favorites.
Final Fantasy VII
While no frills or enhancements whatsoever were made to the PSP/PS3 version of Square's role-playing magnum opus, why fix what ain't broken? Last month, Final Fantasy VII was made available on the PlayStation Store for the affordable price of only $9.99! There's really no better excuse to replay what many consider to be not only the greatest Final Fantasy game, but one of the best RPGS ever created (many of the GamePro editors are also guilty of playing through FFVII several times). And if Square finally gave us that full-blown PS3 remake of Final Fantasy VII, all our nerd desires will be satisfied.
Metal Gear Solid
Finally, gamers have the ability to take one of the most riveting action titles of all time with them wherever they go. That's right, if you haven't heard, Metal Gear Solid is now available for the Sony PSP as a download, and like Final Fantasy VII, another game no PSP owner should go without, it can be purchased for the extremely reasonable price of $9.99. We hate to sound like an official Konami press release, but there's really no reason not to own the original, and arguably the best, Metal Gear Solid game for the PSP. It may lack MGS4: Guns of the Patriots' mind-blowing graphics, but its compelling story and unforgettable boss fights are just too good to pass up.... even if you've played the game before.
When Sony's sci-fi World War II shooter was first announced for the PSP it was hard to fathom much of the franchise's luster and substance being sustained since it was being brought to a handheld. Boy, were we wrong. Not only did Resistance Retribution's white-hot intensity, combat, and inspired cast of gruesome extraterrestrials translate well to Sony's handheld, it actually took the franchise in a fresh new direction by a new implementing third-person perspective . We don't think we're the only ones who said to ourselves, "damn this looks great for a PSP game" the first time we fired Resistance: Retribution up. Sony even somehow managed to pull off decent multiplayer support (a key draw of Retribution's PS3 counterparts, Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2) with eight player matches that run as smooth as butter.
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
Only a Psycho Mantis couldn't appreciate the sophistication stealth-action gameplay that Portable Ops dishes out exclusively on PSP. Totally original from the ground up, the game does more than port over the console series. Creative recruitment mechanics take advantage of WiFi hot-spots, letting you draft soldiers into Naked Snake's espionage ring. Additionally, robust online play complements an intriguing single-player story. Don't let this one sneak by you.
Grand Theft Auto Liberty and Vice City Stories
It might be hard out there for a pimp, but Liberty City Stories makes it easier by bringing the immensely popular Grand Theft Auto series portable. Keeping tabs on your lovely ladies while building the Leone crime syndicate is as fun as it is impressive. Liberty City Stories packs the enormous urban locale onto your PSP in an amazing feat of game engineering. Although not perfect, it's hard to deny the pleasure you'll get from this stellar side-story.
Or, for your 80s fix there's Vice City Stories, which doesn't offer much different from its predecessor other than its tropical setting, but that shouldn't keep you from getting in on all the action. Exploring the crime-ridden streets of Vice City taking on action-packed missions is loads of fun, even if visiting Liberty City ought to be your first priority.
Tekken: Dark Resurrection
Portable pugilists finally have something to be proud of in Tekken: Dark Resurrection. Fine-tuned mechanics make it the definitive handheld fighting game, not to mention the most visually impressive. Online bouts are missing, although head-to-head matches using any of the 30+ characters is an acceptable consolation. Niggles with the controls prevent it from being ideal, yet it's still the best example of handheld fighting given form factor issues.
LocoRoco / 5. LocoRoco 2
Now every boy (and girl) can have a blob of their own thanks to the gelatinous platforming action of LocoRoco and its equally charming sequel LocoRoco 2. Using only the PSP's two shoulder buttons, this cute and creative game has you guiding miniature globules through colorful stages. Charm helps alleviate the pain of LocoRoco being far too short for its own good, but given the tendency for its kid-voiced soundtrack to stick in your head you'll be enjoying it well after your PSP is powered down. In fact, LocoRoco is one of the most original games you'll find on any system.
This PSP title owes much to Tetris. Colored blocks fall from the top of the screen and it's up to you to clear them by forming like-colored formations. Beautiful special effects and a snazzy musical soundtrack gave it a stylish edge over its 8-bit inspiration. We chose the sequel Lumines II for a few nice little upgrades, but the original Lumines is nearly as good.
Patapon / 2. Patapon 2
The beat goes on for the team responsible for LocoRoco in Patapon, a rhythmic real-time strategy game exclusive to PSP. Using the face buttons to pound out rhythmic commands to cutesy Patapon tribesmen, you guide them in a prophetic quest to return to their holy promised land. Patapon is more than just clever beats and pretty presentation though, offering in-depth equipment customization and battle tactics for beating massive screen-filling bosses. At the budget price of $20, you can't afford to miss this game. And for a few dollars more you can pick up its superior sequel Patapon 2 which introduces a rather meaty multiplayer mode.
God of War: Chains of Olympus
Like mana sent from the gods, God of War: Chain of Olympus single-handedly reinvents the action genre with its tightly-wound combat and unparalleled presentation. Unquestionably this is the finest-looking game ever created on any handheld, which is enough for every gamer to take a look. Even more, Kratos' portable saga deserves praise for its superb design and energetic action. All in all, it's bloody good fun.