Playstation Portable

I honestly consider the PSP a technological marvel. The sound quality is as good as an MP3 player, the graphics of some games compete with graphics of some PS2 games, the memory storage can be as big as 4gb depending on the SD card you use, and the other multimedia functions of the system i.e. (web browser, photo/movie storage place, controller for certain PS3 games like Lair) are rather impressive. $169.99 for this thing I agree is a bit too high but there are a lot of times where I do feel like I’m reaping what I have sowed instead of getting less that what I paid for. Overall, the design of the system is great, as it is both aesthetic to look at and comfortable to hold and play for hours. I remember one time when I played Metal Gear Ac!d on my PSP for 7 hours straight and my hands never complained. I also love how easy it is to put the PSP into sleep mode, how you can switch the WLAN on and off with a simple switch at the side of the system, how you can control the three brightness settings of the system without having to quit the game you’re currently playing, and how easy and simple the “home” interface is to use. Design wise, the PSP is just awesome.
All except for two things.

Stupid Time Constraint

PSP battery life frankly sucks. It mostly depends on the games and how intensivly you’r using the PSP but regardless, the most you can get out of your PSP is about 8 hours before you need t recharge your PSP again. I recharge my PSP every day, not because I play 8 hours everyday but because most games will eat up the battery life of the PSP much quicker. I was only able to play Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories for four and a half hours before the battery died out on me, and this was despite the fact that I was playing at the lowest brightness setting, volume down to 1 bar, and with power-save function enabled. Some games just eat away the battery life like crazy and if you’re away from home as much as me, this is an ugly, ugly fact to face when owning a PSP. But this is offline gaming. I remember playing online multiplayer on Metal Gear Solid Portalble Ops Plus and I was only able to play for two and a half hours before my PSP warned me that the battery was about to go out. Two and a half hours. WTF, that’s ridiculous. And MGSPO+ is actually one of the games that are very conservative on your battery life. Play Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror online. Yikes. You’re looking at a two-hour or maybe even 1 and 1/2 hour experience there.

I don’t know how much different PSP Slim is in regards to its battery life but as I only own the fat version, I’ll tell you that I’m majorly disappointed in this.

Limited Genres

What I mean by this is that certain genres like shooters don’t really work on the PSP at all. It’s not because PSP is not capable or anything but simply because it only has one analog nub. Most shooters end up using a lock-on feature – which totally destroy any skill-based challenge in a shooter game – or an implementation of the face buttons as the second analog stick, which takes a long time to get adjusted to. Neither methods are entirely satisfactory. The lack of a second analog stick really hampers the experience of playing such games as Rainbow Six Vegas or Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops or Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow. There are great third-person or first-person action games for the PSP but you’l always end up having some issues with the controls before you get used to it. And by getting used to it, I mean you learn to ignore your frustrations.

So with only one analog stick, it’s easy to see why the most common genre of games for the PSP are simulation (racers or flight games), puzzle games, rpgs, and hack-and-slash. 3d platformers are rare on the PSP and shooters are there on the PSP but not many of them are too fun on the PSP.

So those are really the only design issues I have with the PSP. Everything else, the PSP is pretty impressive. But those two issues are huge issues. I often play a DS version of a game because I prefer the longer battery life performance of the DS and I often get frustrated with the controls/camera angles on certain games e.g. Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters, SOCOM Fireteam Bravo 2. These issues are huge to me and if there is to be a second version of the PSP, they need to get these two issues fixed. But design issues aside, there are certain other things about the PSP that gives me mixed feelings.

The Arduous Search for Originality

If you want to find original games on the PSP that you won’t find on any other consoles, you’re gonna have to go on a long and arduous quest. They do exist but they are so few and so far apart in release dates that you’ll just have to rely on either on online merchants like ebay or onine rental services like gamefly. And most of these original games are puzzle games (e.g. Crush, Patapon, Lumines, LocoRoco) so if you don’t like that genre, that quest is now an almost impossible one.

There’s another reason why originality is so hard to find with PSP games, especially compared to the DS where original games are just everywhere. The reason? Ports. PSP is full of them. Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions was considered by some game critics as the best PSP game for year 2007 but um… that PSP game is just a port of a PSX title released about ten years ago. A lot of great games on the PSP are either enhanced ports like FFT or remakes like Mega Man: Powered Up, Castlevania: Dracula Chronicles, Tomb Raider Anniversary, etc. etc. If you’re an old-school gamer and you already have played a lot of those games, the PSP can often feel like a completely worthless system. To me, it’s not since I haven’t played most of those ports, but to some of you older gamers out there, I can definitely understand why you would never consider buying a PSP.

Where are the Exclusives?

The PSP has quite a number of exclusive titles that are either prequels/sequels to a known PS2 franchise or a spinoff of a franchise of course, but even so, there are so many of these games that are then just ported over to the PS2. Twisted Metal Black: Head-on: Extra Twisted, Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters, Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror, Silent Hills Origins… these are all examples of this. PSP exclusives are becoming harder and harder to find. This might be a great thing for those PS2 owners who just don’t want to purchase a PSP since they get to play PSP games without having to buy a PSP but to many PSP owners, we’re left thinking, “Well, why did we really need to buy the PSP in that case?” I know that certain PSP games are actually better than PS2 ports of those PSP games (Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is one example) but that doesn’t make things any better. Why should we buy a PSP? If there aren’t enough exclusives, there isn’t much of a reason. And that reason is becoming smaller and smaller it seems like. But this isn’t to say that the PSP doesn’t have great exclusive games. It does and I’ve really enjoyed Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops and Daxter and such but I have a feeling that Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core will be ported over to the PS2 in about 6 months and something like that feels like Sony’s way of saying “F*** you” to PSP owners.

Too Much Mediocrity

There are people who argued that the PSP has no good games and it’s just an inferior MP3 player. They’re completely wrong of course, but they’re right about one thing and that is that, no PSP game really makes you go, “I need to buy that game” the way “AAA” games do. I really enjoy PSP games and I’m also very satisifed at how much replay value and how much production value is in a lot of PSP games (the two things that DS games severely lack), but there’s hardly been any PSP games that made me go, “Buy this game now!” to everyone I knew. The must-buy games aren’t really there because PSP showcases a library full of decent and fun games but nothing more. You’ll get good enjoyment out of these games, you’ll even be wowed by some of these games because of their quality graphics and design, but ultimately, they’re just decent and mediocre, which leaves that sort of empty feeling. And let’s face it, if most of these PSP games were made into PS2 games, they would be highly disappointing. Oh wait, some of these games are made into PS2 games and yowza, they sure aredisappointing.

So How Awesome? How Mediocre?

Like the DS, my overall impression with the PSP is a mixed one. I love the design of the PSP and I love how much production value is there in most PSP games, even in those sucky PSP games, but at the same time, except for games like MGS:PO and Patapon, the system lacks must-buys and instead is filled with mediocre titles. So is this awesomely mediocre system worth its high price? For me it is since it still is my most used console out of all that I have. But I can understand why for some PSP owners that it’s nothing but a dust collectors. It’s a shame that they don’t love the console as much as I do lol but at the same time, I really don’t blame them.

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