Just like The Chronicles of Riddick, this movie tie-in has been created from the ground up for just one console – PSP here to Riddick’s Xbox. This lets the developers – Rebellion, in this case – utilise the strengths of the format in question, rather than hastily convert the lead version to as many consoles as possible.
In Riddick it was the graphics that impressed the most. Here, it’s the control system which has been tailored to the PSP’s layout and lack of second analogue stick. It’s not an innovative system – it’s almost identical to that found in Resident Evil 4 – but it’s very easy to get to grips with, which is more than can be said for most PlayStation 2 to PSP conversions.
Playing as Ricardo Tubbs or Sonny Crockett, the plot is set before the events of the film, and involves ridding present day South Beach of a drug lord. Although viewed from the third person and featuring hordes of wannabe urban gangsters to blast, this is no mindless run and gunner. Purely because it’s impossible to run and shoot at the same time. Instead the focus is on finding cover behind skips, statues, walls and such then shooting back – Time Crisis-style – when enemies are reloading their weapons. Some objects take damage when shot at, so it’s essential to keep moving forward; it’s also possible to vault over obstacles to get closer to your targets.
Which leads us nicely onto the targeting system. All the weapons have laser sights, but even so it can be quite tricky to line up shots when being hit yourself, or when there’s a lot of smoke in the area. Auto-aiming would have done the game wonders, but perhaps made it a bit monotonous. There’s a two weapon limit, which adds a nice balance to the gun play, and upgrades can be unlocked by playing a hacking mini-game. A psychedelic combination of Asteroids and the upcoming Every Extra Extended, this proves to be an ample timewaster in itself.
Novelty speed boat missions aside, the main bulk of the game gets over familiar a bit too quickly. Duck and cover. Find keys. Look for drug stashes. Rinse and repeat. The less than adventurous level design and repetitive speech samples don’t help either.
Thankfully there’s plenty to do between missions. Recovered drugs can be sold and exchanged with dealers, information – such as passwords to disable CCTV cameras – can be gained from cohorts to make the next mission easier, and there’s a tailors where you can buy body armour and new suits to increase your reputation rating.