6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

FIFA World Cup: Germany 2006 Review


It’s been a while, but now it’s time to go up against a team in soccer. This is also the first time in a very long while that I got to play a small console sport game. Typically I just play the home console versions so it’s a nice change of pace to see how it goes on the handheld. It’s pretty smooth and the PSP has always been particularly great at emulating the home console experience. That being said, aside from Madden I can’t picture myself playing any sport game on the go for very long.

Since this FIFA is specifically about the World Cup all of the modes focus on this as well. The main mode has you jump right into the World Cup and aim for success. Naturally I was repping the USA as I jumped in to take names. To my credit I actually scored a goal and then held the lead for most of the game. Then as always seems to be the case for these titles the computer’s difficulty level suddenly spiked without warning and they scored with only about 10 seconds left in the game. I can tell you now that this felt really crazy. Just like that I had lost my win and had to settle for a tie. Since it was only round one of the World Cup they didn’t have us play extra time and just ended the game there. I felt a little cheated to be honest, but I was glad that I at least scored a goal. The next game was more of a standard 0-0. I ended up losing the World Cup since my record wasn’t enough but it was a good run while it lasted. The computer evidently didn’t think I was good enough to keep tying though as I had it simulate some games in another World Cup and I lost almost every one.

I do like the World Cup format although it’s not like it makes a huge amount of difference to me as whether I do a quick game or a world cup match it’s basically the same outcome. As expected the graphics here are definitely pretty solid. The soundtrack stands out more than some of the others as a song pops up whenever you pause the game. The tunes seem reasonable enough, but you likely won’t be hearing them enough to ultimately form much of an opinion. You’ll be too busy gearing up for the second half or starting the next game.

There’s a solid amount of replay value here. The games are a little too long to easily play on the go, but since the PSP can just go into standby mode you don’t necessarily have to actually finish a game. You can just do most of it and then just dip out of there. That’s always been a pretty nice plus for the PSP in general. I think how much you play the game will depend on if you already play FIFA on the home console games and are just using this as a change of pace or if this is your main FIFA experience. If it’s the latter then I can easily see you spending a bunch of time here.

Really the only difference between this one and a home console title in terms of gameplay is that it’s not quite as clear since you’re on a smaller screen. You’ll feel a little more constricted, but that’s more mental than anything. It’s really still the same game through and through and feels like a direct port. It’s definitely still fun even if you may have a hard time scoring.

I really feel like FIFA and NHL have more in common with each other than any other sport title. If you ignore the terrain (Ice vs Grass) there really aren’t any substantial differences with the two. The way you shoot and pass is the same and you’ve got around the same amount of players. Even the distance of the field is the same. I wouldn’t be surprised if EA is able to copy a lot of the code to use in between the two games. As a result I feel like my NHL training as of late transferred over into FIFA even if I wasn’t quite able to secure a solid win. I came close at least.

Overall, World Cup 2006 feels like a true soccer title and it’s a fun concept for a spinoff. It slightly scales the title down which is quite convenient for the PSP in general. This was the only sport game I had left on my portable backlog so you likely won’t be seeing another one again for a very long time. For the first time I’ve actually gotten my sport backlog down to 20 games so it’ll be quite the milestone to have that one empty at last. Finally I will have more time for trophy hunting, general video game lounging, and getting unstuck in some of the trickier games on the backlog. Lets not get ahead of ourselves though.

Overall 6/10

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7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron Review


The Star Wars marathon continues as I play through the final PSP experience. The Battlefront series has definitely been pretty fun. While I still do miss the overall gameplay of the first title, the rest have definitely been solid. Ironically I think this one’s gameplay is definitely weaker than Renegade Squadron, but it makes up for this with a more expansive story. The Battlefront games have all been pretty close when it counts.

The game’s story covers the trilogy as well as some events after it. The main character is X2 and he is a clone bred for combat. Along with X1, he was one of the Empire’s finest soldiers. He ends up joining the rebellion though once Palpatine emerges and he finds out that he was on the wrong side. X1 remains evil though and will do everything he can to help the Empire win the war. It may not be Darth Vader and Palpatine that the rebels need to worry about after all.

It’s always fun to see how the games incorporate all of these new characters and events into the classic films. They fit them in pretty seamlessly to be honest. There are also a lot of fun nods to the last games as in 2 missions you get to support Renegade Squadron in their battles. It helps tie everything together into a larger continuity so that’s definitely pretty cool. Sadly you don’t get to fight with Vader this time, but you do take on some Jedi which is definitely a lot of fun.

It is easy to see how the Jedi ended up losing the war though. There is one cutscene where a Jedi shows up and manages to beat X1. However, he says that he won’t murder anyone. After saying this, the Jedi turns his back to X1 and is promptly stabbed. Did he really think that one line would cause X1 to turn good? Later in the story X2 is presented with a similar choice and while he also makes the hero call of not murdering X1, he at least doesn’t give the villain his back. Both X1 and X2 are definitely real fun characters though. They remind me of Starkiller to an extent. They also get hype as the villain takes down Luke Skywalker and the hero is ultimately able to trade blows with just about anyone in the game.

As for the core gameplay, it’s a classic 3D blaster style. You do get a lightsaber during the final few levels though so at that point it feels more like a beat em up. The controls are a little rougher than the last few titles mainly thanks to the camera work. It can be very hard to turn around as the camera shakes quite a bit so get ready for the villains to get a bunch of cheap shots in. Perhaps the developers realized this though as there are constant checkpoints throughout the game. Whenever you die you can find solace in the fact that you won’t have gone far. You’ll rarely have to replay more than 5 minutes of content to get back to where you are at.

You can heal your health by throwing a health packet or standing near a health point. Likewise there are various ammo points. Due to all of these methods of strengthening your character you are rarely in serious danger. So long as you play patiently you will definitely be fine. The aerial levels are back as well and these are definitely improved from the last one. You can move really quickly and the lock-on system is on point. You always feel like you are in control here and I actually looked forward to these levels. Typically they would be mixed in with the ground levels for a pretty good balance.

As for the length of the game, while it isn’t 3 hours like the last one, it is still pretty short. I don’t imagine it would take you much longer than 5 hours and honestly it would probably be more like 4. It’s definitely a short campaign, but of course there are other modes to keep you engaged like jumping into normal levels to have fun in. There’s no real post game though as the various unlockables don’t feel all that special. I got it for a cheap price and the value is pretty decent. I don’t think you’d regret the buy as even though it is short the gameplay is fun enough to keep you on board.

Going back to the length, this is also the kind of game where you can leisurely beat the level as you explore or you can blast through them. As the game uses a checkpoint system it’s very easy to cheese the game by running full speed to each objective. Even if you die after making it the checkpoint counts as a save point so each time you’ll be closer. As a result it’s not a bad idea to just run in each time. It’s not exactly how the developers probably imagined you’ll play though. Also, it’s not like you’re always saving a ton of time by doing this, but realistically there is no reason to actually fight all of the enemies unless you really want to. After all, there’s no EXP system here and I only tend to stick around and fight everyone when I can get level ups out of it.

The graphics are definitely solid and we do get more cinematics than last time. The Jedi vs X1 battle was really solid and we get other good action scenes as well. I’m always pleasantly surprised to see such cutscenes in the games and it does make the game feel a little more special. The soundtrack is about the same as always. I know the tunes are still good no matter how many times you hear them but I want to see the Star Wars games show a little more creativity with the upcoming games. There are a lot of new tunes they can come up with I’m sure.

Overall, Elite Squadron is a very fun game. It is definitely a step up over Rebel Squadron even if the gameplay is a little weaker. It’s very relative since all of the Battlefront games are very solid in that respect. The rest of the game aspects improve upon the original so you can’t count that as anything but a win. The next Star Wars game I’m playing is for the GBA so that’ll definitely be fun. It’ll be a fresh gameplay experience so it’ll be nice to see what the other companies could come up with. y Star Wars marathon is coming to a close, but it’s definitely been a fun ride. If you don’t have Elite Squadron yet then you should definitely change that.

Overall 7/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron Review


It’s time to take a look at the next Battlefront game. I’m getting closer to the end of this Battlefront marathon as there is just one more that I have after this one. Renegade Squadron is a pretty fun game with a nice setup, but it is definitely as short as you may have heard. I was able to blast through the game in around 3 hours if not a little sooner. There are only 11 levels and they’re all pretty easy. I think I only lost a level once during the whole playthrough. The gameplay is definitely solid though and I can’t say that there are any real weak points to the game beyond the length.

The game starts with a researcher trying to make sure that the history logs about the original trilogy are accurate. As a result she calls the leader of the old Renegade Squadron since nobody’s ever heard of them but apparently they were crucial towards winning the war. The commander confirms that this is the case and starts to talk to her about how things went back in the day. It turns out that this squad was present in pretty much every big battle. They would always be behind the shadows as they helped change events, but their role was key. They even took down Darth Vader twice.

It’s a fun premise even if it does seem like every game likes to introduce new characters who were apparently the real heroes of the rebellion. The dialogue can be pretty cheesy, but it works out pretty well. It may be by the books, but the script does get the job done. You can’t help but root for this old general as he brags about the good ole days. The cutscenes are basically stills with a lot of cool energy effects in the background. I can definitely get behind that and having cutscenes always makes the game feel more majestic. The story may not be as grand as Battlefront II, but the narrator definitely does a better job of making it sound epic.

The graphics are pretty decent. You’ll recognize all of the characters pretty well. It definitely holds up and the PSP has always been pretty impressive in this area. The soundtrack is certainly less memorable and you may not even recall any of the tunes by the time it ends. They just won’t leave that kind of impact on you, but it could be worse. At least you have the classic Star Wars tunes that you see in all of the games.

There is a little replay value as you can play random levels or replay the story ones to get some medals. Admittedly it is still not all that much content though so if you had bought this day 1 then you’d probably be a little upset. As it stands though, I got the game for just a few bucks so that makes the purchase feel a lot better if you ask me. It may be a game that only lasted 3 hours, but at least it was fun. The gameplay lends itself pretty well to just jumping in and having fun. It’s certainly the easiest of the Battlefront games though. Your character is very strong and half of the time you can just skip the enemies.

The gameplay revolves around objectives like destroying objects/fighters or conquering areas. Long gone are the days of the original Battlefront where it was about territory. Since some objectives are just to destroy terminals you can ignore the enemies entirely. Also, you have 3 little objects that you can throw to recover your health entirely. You have a chaingun that has unlimited ammo which also packs a punch and can switch to any other weapon whenever you’re at a base. Your options are numerous and you can also run for prolonged periods of time so there is just no way that the enemies can hope to catch you. I’m not sure why they decided to give you so many techniques for this PSP title. If anything it’s part of why the game is so short since most of the levels can be cheesed.

One area where is did improve on compared to Battlefront II were the space levels though. In that game they weren’t all that fun since the ships were super slow and you didn’t have much of a proper lock on. This game fixes both options as the ship can fly real fast and you can boost for a while. The enemy targets go down quicker so it isn’t as long to clear the levels. They also added auto landing so you don’t have to worry about crashing on re-entry. I still think Battlefront should really stick to the ground levels as that is when the game is at its best, but if the space levels stay this solid then it is definitely less of an issue.

Overall, Renegade Squadron is a fun title. It’s the kind of game that you likely won’t go back to, but that’s fine. As mentioned, the gameplay is definitely a lot of fun. It may be easy, but it’s still satisfying to take out your chaingun and just blast everyone away. The fact that the game also had a pretty solid story certainly helps as well. It makes for a complete experience although I will certainly say that it is the weakest of the Battlefront games so far. I do expect that the next PSP title in the series will end up winning. It’s supposed to be longer and that will definitely help, but we’ll see if the gameplay can match up as well since that is just as important.

Overall 7/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Star Wars Lethal Alliance Review


It’s time to take a look at a Star Wars game that is likely forgotten to time by now. Lethal Alliance was one of the few Star War titles that I did not own before now. It was in the way of my marathon so it’s good to finally own it. You can expect more Star War reviews soon but lets not get ahead of ourselves. Lethal Alliance is a very solid game that is held back a bit by sloppy gameplay mechanics. (The game also crashed during the second last level but that was more due to my PSP’s faulty battery than the game) I do like the ideas behind the game and the plot is solid.

The plot follows a girl who is trying to enact revenge on one of the high ranking members aboard the Death Star. To this end she has made an alliance with the rebellion and will aid them as long as their goals are aligned. She will quickly find out that this goal is a lot more difficult than it appears as there are many enemies in the Empire and overcoming them will not be easy. She has no Force abilities, but has a lifetime of combat experience and gun skills to aid her. Throw in her motive of revenge and she is ready for the task.

The gameplay is sort of like Bounty Hunter as the main character uses a gun to fight most opponents. You can also switch to the Lightsaber when you’re in close quarters combat, but for most of the game it is a lot easier to just gun spam. The title gives you a lot of freedom in how you fight though so I’m not saying that it is impossible to fight that way. You can certainly find quite a lot of success with the blade as well. You also learn new moves after every few levels although I never really used them. It’s nice to have options of course, but give me a good one and I’ll likely just start spamming it.

What hurts the gameplay is the platforming part. I feel like it was tacked on after the fact. It’s hard to turn without moving quite a bit which ultimately ends up with you falling off the cliff. At that point you have to go all the way back to the last checkpoint which can get annoying after a while. I also think this aspect of the game doesn’t add anything since the combat moments are the best anyway. Likewise there are some times where you control the drone and they aren’t challenging or inventive so I feel like it was just a waste of space. More content isn’t always a good thing after all.

It’s a shame since the combat is air tight. While playing as a Jedi is always the best I also like playing as these bounty hunters. It’s a pretty fun change of pace and you get to deal with overwhelming odds. Of course, this lead has a lightsaber so it’s a little different. One of the best parts of Bounty Hunter was having to fight a Jedi master while only having guns and normal armaments to fight with. It’s just such a cool concept even if you should have no chance in such a scenario.

The graphics definitely look good. It’s going for a bit of a realistic look so we don’t get a lot of flashy visuals, but there’s a good amount of detail. We also get some cutscenes which is always fun. One of them is unintentionally humorous though as you get ready for a big fight with the main villain and then the heroine wakes up in jail. I suppose you can’t always win all your fights with ease. Still, she managed to rebound after that and did her best to keep on going forward. I definitely think she succeeded as a lead and I liked the twist at the end. Her character is ultimately pretty important in the mythos although it was likely completely retconned by now. While the soundtrack isn’t the most original as it loves to re-use movie themes (Like a lot of the games for this franchise) you never get tired of hearing Vader’s theme. The voice sounded like him too so it’d be pretty neat if they managed to get the same actor to voice him.

The game is fairly short and there are no collectibles/no post game so there isn’t any real replay value to be found. It’s long enough where I wouldn’t feel cheated if I ended up buying it at full price. Nowadays it’s certainly cheaper provided you can find it in stock at least.

There are two points in the game that are a bit annoying though so watch out for them. One is a puzzle element in a level where you have to find a way down from a high up building. I don’t even know how I made it down (I just kept jumping til I landed on something) and it didn’t feel much like a puzzle so much as just a poorly designed level. Then the other iffy part is the final boss where the only way to beat him is to use one of the many abilities you learned through the game. Problem is that I never used this one before. It took forever to finally learn how to activate it and that dragged the game out a bit. Surely the game could have let me know how to use the combos or some kind of guide right? You’re expected to remember them all.

Overall, Lethal Alliance is a pretty fun Star Wars game. It’s a shame that it basically fell under the radar though. I think that’s probably because in general the PSP never got all that big (relatively speaking) so the games are typically not brought up day to day. Still, this is one game that has aged very well and it would be cool to see a big budget remake for the PS4 or something. If you haven’t played this game yet then I highly recommend changing that.

Overall 7/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Twisted Metal: Head-On Review


It’s time to look at my first ever Twisted Metal game! It felt good to finally be able to open the door on this franchise. It always looked pretty interesting and who doesn’t like car combat? Naturally the game’s likely a little more limited than the main installments would be, but it gives you a pretty good look at what the franchise is all about. (I assume) There is even a story even if it was rather brief so that’s cool. It’s a fun game and one that you will remember down the line.

The game starts with a mysterious being announcing that the entire planet is going to be the battleground for a tournament that he is hosting. The objective is to use your vehicle to destroy everyone else’s. If you are successful then he shall grant you a wish. If you don’t want to participate in the tournament…too bad. Each character gets their own story but at first you only have 2 characters unlocked so I chose the biker dude. He’s not thrilled about this, but if someone’s going to win this thing it may as well be him. There aren’t really any more cutscenes until the end of the game where you fight a giant car that is all but indestructible. Then you are treated to the ending. The guy’s reaction to it wasn’t great though. You get a wish of course, but the main character is just super confused and starts yelling about how this must all be a nightmare. The villain zaps him a bit, but the guy won’t budge so the announcer takes this as his wish and decides to stop with the tournaments for a little while. However, he does say that this is wish that he cannot grant so it was pretty pointless. The main guy should have asked for something a little more valuable. The options are pretty much endless to be honest.

When it comes to the gameplay, you’ll likely pick it up very quickly. You drive around in the car and try to blow the others up. You have a machine gun built into the car that you can spam although you have to let it recharge from time to time. It does almost no damage but it’s still good to have. Around the stage there are a few different power ups like Fire missiles, power missiles, upgrades, etc. The best ones are the homing missiles as they deal a lot of damage and are easy to hit with. Most levels will have you try to destroy 4-5 cars. You get 3 lives to do so or you have to restart. I died once, but after that I realized the perfect way to cheese. Look for a health power up somewhere in the level. It’ll keep respawning there so whenever you’re low on health just head for that place.

However, the most important thing to do is to grab the upgrades. There are 6 upgrades. I’m not sure if it was a glitch or not, but once I got them all my car became completely invincible. This was really handy for the final boss since I literally couldn’t lose health. Getting the 6 upgrades can be tough because if you lose a life you lose all of your upgrades and earning them back takes a while since you get them only when you destroy cars. Still, it’s worth it and without that invincibility I get the feeling that the final boss would have been a whole lot more challenging.

The graphics look pretty good. Naturally I was impressed that it had full voice acting and everything. I shouldn’t be surprised since the PSP always did a good job of feeling like a big console. It’s a shame that it didn’t end up selling better because I do think a lot of passion was put into the PSP. It really could have ended up being one of the big ones and instead it ended up fading into obscurity. The soundtrack is also pretty good for the most part. Naturally there is a lot of rock music which is fun. I can’t really vouch for the lyrical themes because I didn’t understand anything they were saying, but the instrumental themes are definitely quite good.

As for replay value, I wouldn’t say that there is a ton here. There is probably a multiplayer mode for if you have two PSPs, but that’s tough to find nowadays. You can try beating the game with everyone to get all of the endings. That will take you around 10 hours I’d say. Beyond that there isn’t much else. If the price was higher then it probably wouldn’t be worth it, but if you can get the game for a few bucks then the initial playthrough probably still justifies the cost. It’s a car game that you’ll want to add to your collection.

Overall, Twisted Metal was fun. The plot twist about who the main character at the end was is pretty intense. I’m not sure exactly how straightforward it was though as it’s possible that the guy is actually someone else. I just get the feeling that there is more to the clown than meets the eye, but I really don’t know enough about the franchise to say one way or the other. If you play this game, make sure to keep an eye out for those final cutscenes. They’re pretty fun. With this game completed, I have finally gotten the video game backlog down to 100 games. Definitely a pretty emotional moment.

Overall 7/10