I never thought a PSP third person shooter would have my favourite feature of the year so far. Screw Okami's paintbrush, Final Fantasy XII's gambits and Supreme Commander's scale. Screw Rainbow Six Vegas's co-op and Godhand's difficulty. But what's weird is this feature doesn't even appear on the eight point list on the back of the box. Bullet point number four comes close with "Super cool beats - Experience a super hot Mexican underground through bleeding-edge, hip-hop music tracks from Control Machete, Molotov and Delinquent Habit", but that misses the most important part- what the music does. Or rather what it doesn't. Let me explain.
Chili Con Carnage is a PSP third-person shooter and re-imagining of Total Overdose, 2005's bizarre Tex-Mex Max Payne. The setting's the same; a brightly coloured comedy B-movie vision of Mexico where your character quips "You've eaten your last burrito, pal!" before blasting open a dude's skull from 100 paces. It's a fun and totally unique combination of slapstick, stereotypes and style, and whether you love or hate the braindead humour it's never shoved in your face in a way that could mean it makes or wrecks the game. Then again we've never been to Mexico, so there's every chance this is really a gritty simulation and Mexicans really do spend all their time shooting each other with guns hidden in guitar cases and backflipping off walls.
As for the plot, the powerful and heart-wrenching narrative kicks off when freewheeling loose cannon Ramiro 'Ram' Cruz gives his father a box of kittens as a birthday present, only for a combine harvester to crash through the wall and crush both the old man and his kittens. From there Ram starts his high-octane, gun slinging quest for revenge. Ram's high-octane, gun slinging quest for revenge is finished by level three, but fortunately for us he immediately spots a nearby piece of paper that tells him there's a reward available for blowing up (it's creepily specific about this) a nearby crime boss. It's all light stuff to keep you smiling and shooting, which is great because we like smiling and, most importantly, Chili Con Carnage's shooting is pretty good.