Sony PSP: The games to look forward to

What's going on your shopping list?

185,000 down, how many more to go? That's almost certainly a question the games are going to have to help answer. With the focus now switching to the months beyond launch, people want more things to show off on their shiny screens. What's more, where the launch titles may have been forgiven for the odd load delay (or the odd dozen of 30-second load delays), future games will have to do better. So what should we be looking forward to?

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

Top of most PSP owners' (or prospective owners') Must Buy list is Rockstar's PSP-exclusive GTA, a game set in the GTA III playground of Liberty City and starring mob boss Tony Capriani from the same game. Curiously, though, it's not Rockstar North doing the production duties on this key title, but Rockstar Leeds; the team responsible for porting Midnight '75 second load delays' Club III.

Reasons to be excited:

  1. It's a proper, all-new 3D GTA with a new story on a handheld.
  2. It's not a rubbish port of the old top down versions.
  3. It'll take ages to finish
  4. It'll have a cracking soundtrack.

Reasons to be doubtful:

  1. Queston marks remain over just how much input Rockstar North has had in the project: will it be as involving or as funny?
  2. It's by Rockstar Leeds: will they get the loading times sorted out?
  3. Can the PSP cope with a free roaming environment?
  4. All that streaming data will kill the battery life.

Pro Evolution Soccer

pes

One of the few games that many gamers will be happy to buy two copies of, such is level of reverence and anticipation over Konami's stab at porting its glorious footy franchise over to the PSP. With full wireless multiplayer support for up to four players, we're expecting it to be one of the few PSP titles that people will actively go out of their way to play with other PSP owning mates. Commuting may never be the same again.

Reasons to be excited

  1. Christ on a bike: it's PES! On! A! Handheld!
  2. Wireless multiplayer for up to four player action. You need never go without a PES fix even on The Commute From Hell. Yay!
  3. It'll be proper widescreen PES for the first time ever.
  4. It's the best footy game ever made.

Reasons to be doubtful

  1. Konami's handheld footy attempts have been mixed.
  2. The controls may take a while to get used to - no dual shoulder buttons for a start.
  3. Load times could be iffy, given Konami's inexperience on the PSP, but there's always sleep mode, eh?
  4. PES at its best is in multiplayer - how easy is it going to be to find pals to play against on your daily commute?

Football Manager

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Another rare title that the die-hard won't object to buying twice so that they don't ever have to be without their fix. Sports Interactive, like Konami with PES, is the undisputed master of the genre and the franchise's long overdue debut on a handheld system is truly something to celebrate, so long as they get it right.

Reasons to be cheerful

  1. It's brought to you by the same developer responsible for the PC version, ensuring it's up to the same levels of obsessive statistical detail.
  2. It'll have more leagues and teams that you know what to do with.
  3. The sheer level of control and options available will make even the most ardent football nutters head spin 720 degrees.
  4. It's one of the most insanely immersive and addictive games ever conceived, and you can now keep on playing on the bog...

Reasons to be doubtful

  1. Since when did Sports Interactive have a clue about handheld gaming?
  2. And while we're at it, ditto console gaming?
  3. Again, the load times could be horrendous, given the lack of hard disk and the PSP's dreadful track record to date.
  4. The control interface on previous console editions of ChampMan was a drag. Why not do a touch screen version? Gah!

Daxter

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A rare PSP exclusive, bringing gamers the best of both worlds: a cracking little slice of platforming genius, and a game you can't buy on any other platform. Although it's not actually developed by the Naughty Dog chaps, the game's script is penned by the same guy, the voiceovers are provided by the same talent, and several ex ND chaps have jumped ship to work on the game.

Reasons to be cheerful

  1. Daxter had the best lines in the Jak & Daxter games; we're expecting more dry hilarity and several concerned looking commuters as we crack up on inappropriate moments.
  2. The Jak & Daxter trilogy was arguably the best platforming series of this generation. Daxter ought to be the best handheld platformer to date.
  3. The sub games and bite sized gaming episodes ought to lend themselves well to short burst of handheld gaming.
  4. The use of Naughty Dog's tech should make the game seamless.
  5. It's exclusive to the PSP.

Reasons to be doubtful

  1. It's not Naughty Dog, so it could be a pale imitation.
  2. The constant streaming data could drain the battery.
  3. There have been way too many annual platformers over the past few years; we're a bit platformed out to be honest.

SSX On Tour

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One of Tom's favourites, this, and certain to be among his Most Played PSP titles come the end of the year. Like most of EA's games it'll be basically a straight port, which is either a Good Thing or a Bad Thing, depending on whether you're the sort of gamer that likes to keep handheld versions of games very specifically tailored to the platform. Still, it's a brand new SSX title on a handheld; surely that's something worth celebrating?

Reasons to be cheerful

  1. It'll be a pretty faithful port, meaning we can look forward to enjoying some downhill tricks on the road for the first time.
  2. It's from a team that know what it's doing.
  3. Its fast paced racing trickery gameplay is well suited to on-the-move play.

Reasons to be doubtful

  1. It's the same as the home versions, only with an inferior control system - given the choice it's going to be tough to justify buying both.
  2. EA's track record of load time crimes on the PSP is well documented.
  3. Will the frame rate be able to keep up with the action?

What else is coming soon?

FIFA 06

If EA can cure the load time headaches of its first PSP effort then FIFA could be worth a look if you prefer the glitzy licensed-based approach and easier gameplay than Pro Evo's deeper, less immediate offerings.

Burnout Legends

Said to be completely different to the soon-to-be-released Burnout Revenge, it combines the best bits of the previous three titles into one tasty morsel. With Criterion working on it the PSP will probably melt, so well worth a look if you fancy smashing cars up at insane speeds on the move.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06

Another Bramwell barnstormer, we're expecting big things from EA's second stab at Golf on the PSP. Given how superb Everybody's Golf is for handheld immediacy, we're fully expecting EA's latest to be another must-have for the system. But will you really want to buy it twice? Decisions decisions.

Prince of Persia 3

Another potentially great title which few people will really want to consider buying twice, but one that's definitely worth a look if you're in the unfortunate position of having your home-based gaming taken up by such trifling matters as having a family. Ubi's Montreal studio has pushed the PS2 further than almost anyone else, and who's to say it won't do the same for the PSP?

Peter Jackson's King Kong

Arguably a game that should definitely be experienced on a home console rather than on a train, but still promises to be an absolute corker of a game on whichever system you get around to playing it on. If the presence of a PSP version opens it up to an even bigger audience, then that's alright by us, but don't buy it twice for gawd's sake.

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