DS and PSP Christmas Guide
It's Christmas time, which means plenty of hours to devote to eating, watching festive films and playing games. In the case of the great games that follow, you can even play them while watching hours of monotonous television with the family, thanks to them all being handheld games. It has been an interesting 2009 for both the PSP and DS, so it's time to delve further into just what games are well worth a look this season.
The PSP is swiftly reaching its fifth birthday and it has certainly had an interesting past year. 2009 kicked off with the launch of Remote Play enabling PSP gamers to play PS1 classics and certain PSN downloadable games via their PS3 and Wi-Fi Connections. The PSP Go came out in October 2009 to some very mixed reviews due to its removal of the UMD drive and a strong focus on downloadable games, not forgetting the arrival of PSP Minis: bite-sized downloadable games. The PSP has had a great year overall still when it comes to games with some very memorable experiences appearing on the system in recent months.
It's a perennial feature in many gamers diaries and the latest FIFA game has excelled itself yet again. Everything has been improved since FIFA 09 with Be A Pro being the best of the many modes available. Finally you can live your childhood dream of leading your favourite team to victory. Once you've sated those needs, Challenge Mode offers you the chance of changing history with numerous challenges involving winning games by certain margins. The challenges are all short but fun making it an ideal mode to drop in and out of. There's also more of the traditional Manager mode and Season mode which always provides plenty of longevity for the game. FIFA 10 is a football fan's dream come true.
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Arguably the most outright enjoyable Grand Theft Auto game of recent years, Chinatown Wars exploded onto our PSPs with style. Although initially a DS exclusive, it was this version which was definitive. Offering more missions than ever and some stunning dynamic real-time lighting effects for the system, Chinatown Wars had it all. One of the best things about Chinatown Wars was its return to the top-down perspective that the first two Grand Theft Autos enjoyed; it was a wonderfully nostalgic change. The 70 or so story missions were varied and there was still plenty to do thanks to the many side quests on offer. The best was yet to come with the drug dealing mini-game which was as addictive as the rest of the game put together. Truly one of the real greats on the PSP, easily rivalling previous handheld GTA titles.
We've waited long enough for its release but Gran Turismo PSP turned out to be just what we wanted. Offering 35 tracks and over 800 cars there was certainly plenty to do even if there was no sign of a structured career mode. As is always the way with Gran Turismo games, it's all about starting at the bottom and working your way up, and this is still the case thanks to modes such as Single Race and Drift Trial still offering up credits for good victories. Just when you thought you were done, the urge to race one more event to be able to buy 'just' one more car was always there and kept us hooked to our PSPs. Gran Turismo might not have been quite as complete a package as we hoped but it's still the best, realistic racer on the PSP and deserving of a place in your collection.
It was a brilliantly inventive game on the PS3 upon first release in 2008, but there were some reservations as to just how well it would work on the smaller screen. Fortunately the PSP conversion of LittleBigPlanet happily holds its own. The single player mode is compelling as ever. At times it might infuriate you but never unfairly so thanks to its well balanced difficulty level. The level creator on offer is as complex and as detailed as the PS3 equivalent and the ability to upload your creations is great. LittleBigPlanet harks back to the days of the 2D platformer and is the kind of game that will keep you grinning from ear to ear.
Motorstorm: Arctic Edge
A different type of racer to Gran Turismo, Motorstorm: Arctic Edge is all about off road arcade action. It might not be as pretty as its PS3 predecessors but it retains their fun, frantic nature perfectly. It does everything just right with tons of variety thanks to over 100 tracks and an array of vehicles all with their own unique handling. All of the tracks come with various shortcuts and alternate routes ensuring that races never get dull. The career mode is comprehensive with a great difficulty curve and the online functionality truly is the cherry on top, making Motorstorm: Arctic Edge a brilliantly well rounded arcade racer.