Chains of Olympus was probably the single biggest PSP release during the entire console’s life cycle. It was one of the first games everyone wanted for the system and Ready at Dawn delivered with a God of War experience just like the console version and no cut corners.
The game takes place between the first two games with Kratos continuing his journey to rid every god on Olympus and his quest to kill Zeus. He finds himself discovering more nightmares of his past, his daughter, and various new gods not seen in previous games. The story is just fine and feels just like a God of War game, but it’s very short and can be finished in less than 4 hours.
I remember starting up this game for the first time and seeing half of Kratos’ face in the main menu, just like in previous games, and pressing that new game button. The game starts you out at the Battle of Attica fighting off a giant Basilisk sent to destroy the city by the Persians. I knew the game would have an epic first boss fight and a giant city to fight in as the previous games did as well. You also have to remember that this was released two years after God of War II so there wasn’t much else to go off of at the time. Thankfully this game carved its own path in the God of War series and later games actually borrowed things from this game.
Surprisingly the controls work out just fine with the handheld version. pressing the shoulder buttons and moving the analog nub allows you to dodge. The combat and animations are gorgeous and the game runs at 30FPS most of the time. Very rarely did it ever drop below that and sometimes even went up to 60FPS in smaller areas. Everything about this game is so familiar yet somehow slightly evolved from GoWII. The moves are more fluid and upgrades are a bit different as well. New magic items and a brand new weapon are introduced as well.
The Gauntlet of Zeus is a giant fist that brings slower more powerful hits, sadly due to the short length only one extra weapon was introduced. Efreet is the new AOE magic attack that uses fire damage, Light of Dawn is a long-range magic attack, and Charon’s Wrath stuns enemies. Kratos also gets a shield in the game allowing new counter-attacks and throwing back projectiles at enemies. The whole combat system as a whole feels new and enhanced enough to make this feel like a sequel rather than a spin-off.
Just like in previous games, you can upgrade your magic and health with hidden Phoenix Feather and Gorgon Eye chests, as well as using red orbs to upgrade items. Most of the hidden chests are easy to find if you explore all areas and pay attention to breakable walls and side paths. The best part about this game is the new enemies and bosses which is what makes God of War so epic to begin with.
After beating the Basilisk you will come across a few other bosses, but they aren’t large epic enemies like previous games, they are smaller and more challenging combat wise which is fine for the story that it delivers. I don’t want to spoil the game and tell you all the bosses right here, but the final boss proved quite a challenge and will test your reflexes for sure.
The environments are also amazing as with any God of War game with huge set pieces, massive buildings, giant statues, and various background stuff going on. Chains of Olympus was the best-looking handheld game ever released at the time and stunned everyone. It sold more PSP systems, which was good, and was the main reason why most people bought a PSP. The lighting effects and textures look great and are a step up over God of War II. There are some noticeable aliasing and audio compression, but overall the game seems impossibly good on the small system. This was also the first PSP game to use the full 333MHz of the CPU and required an update before playing.
Overall, Chains of Olympus is a milestone and a pinnacle game in the handheld market and showed just how much of a powerhouse Sony’s handheld was back in the day. Sadly, we never got a new God of War on Vita, but this game is playable on that system as a PSP download.
The PSP was one of the systems I spent the most time growing up with. I saved up for it with an allowance over the course of 9 months, hacked it to death, bought nearly every iteration, and broke one of them. It was a vital part of my teenage years and I spent hundreds of hours glued to it in my room after school and on weekends. I still play the PSP to this day and I am still discovering great games I missed out on. Below are the top ten I loved the most growing up with, and while these may not all be amazing to some people, these are the ones that meant the most to me.
10. Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords— Who would have thought that match-three puzzle games could be so damn addictive and good? I was working during this time and it kept me going through dozens of long and boring shifts. I spent 40 hours in this game and grew fond of match 3 puzzle games. With RPG elements combined with Bejeweled-style gameplay, there was a lot going on here. With dozens of side quests, an entertaining story, and great visuals, this is one of the most underrated PSP games out there.
9. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII — While I wasn’t big into the FF7 reboot series Square announced, I was following it and respected it. Crisis Core was a PSP exclusive and sold units like hotcakes. I remember waiting in anticipation for this game as it looked gorgeous and played really well. While the story was forgettable, and the game was short, it’s still worth playing if you are a Final Fantasy fan or just want a fun action game.
8. DJ Max Portable 2 — DJ Max was a series that didn’t get any attention here in the states as it was a Japan and Korea exclusive. I followed the DJ Max scene closely and fell in love with the rhythm game as it is still the best on the system. While we finally got DJ Max 3 and Fever, Portable 2 has the best K and J-Pop tunes out of all of them. There were three spin-offs known as Hot Tunes and Clazziquai and Black Square, but they were mostly forgettable. If you can find a copy online grab it as you will be hooked like I was.
7. Tomb Raider Anniversary — While I couldn’t play this on PC I risked playing it on PSP and it turned out to be an exact port of the PS2 version with all controls and content intact. This is a seriously overlooked game which is a shame as it plays really well and looks amazing on the PSP. From start to finish the game will keep you interested and remains one of the best action games on the system.
6. Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 Remix — This game is also overlooked a lot despite being a definitive edition of THUG2. Everything from the game is included plus an extra level and more music. The game played flawlessly and was seamlessly transitioned to PSP. I spent dozens of hours playing this game and still go back to it to this day.
5. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories — Probably the single most anticipated game on the system it made a huge splash in the game industry and sold PSP more than any other game. Having a living breathing GTA world in your pocket was unheard of at the time. Sure we have all the GTAs on mobile phones, but this was a huge technical achievement for Rockstar back in the day. While the visuals looked dated, and the controls were fidgety, the game played just like a GTA game. Vice City Stories improved the series and Chinatown Wars was probably the best of the three. With this version, I will never forget how awesome it was to play a GTA game in the palm of your hand.
4. Ridge Racer — This was the first game I ever played on the system and was pre-ordered with it. The game looked fantastic and played so well. This is considered a “best-of” for the series and was the last great Ridge Racer. While it doesn’t quite hold up today, it’s still worth owning if you’re a Ridge Racer fan or love the amazing racers on PSP.
3. Burnout Legends — This was a personal favorite as I was so excited for it. I had a poster of it in my room and couldn’t wait for the game to be launched. I was highly skeptical, as was everyone else, but the game held a steady 30FPS and was fast-paced and felt just like Burnout 3. This is probably the best racing game on PSP, but the entire genre dominated the handheld.
2. God of War: Ghost of Sparta — While Chains of Olympus was one of my most anticipated games for the system, Ghost of Sparta blew my mind away as being the single best looking game on the system. It seriously looked like a PS2 game and there was detail in this game that was never seen in any other PSP game. The combat was better, the story was bigger, and is still regarded as one of the best games in the series.
1. Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror — While Logan’s Shadow is superior, Dark Mirror was the most played PSP game for me as I even made a full walkthrough for it. The game is the best shooter with the best use of controls and that’s being able to strafe with the D-pad and aim with the nub. It felt reversed from other controllers, but I quickly adapted. Sadly, most shooters on the system wouldn’t allow you to swap controls. The game was full of secrets, and the story was great for hardcore Syphon Filter fans like myself. Sadly, the series hasn’t been mentioned since Logan’s Shadow and completely missed a PS3 game and hopefully will be rebooted on PS4.
Handhelds have been around longer than I have, but I feel wonderful knowing I saw the handheld market grow and bloom into what it is today. From the Jaguar Lynx to the New Nintendo 3DS, we have come a long way and made leaps and bounds in the gaming and tech industry to get here. Even on mobile phones games look so good that we are seeing PC ports and console ports on them. There is one particular handheld that I have fonder memories of more than GameBoy, DS, and even the Sega Game Gear. It’s the Sony PlayStation Portable. It was an ambitious monster of a system that sold millions of units and has one of the most dedicated followings of all time that is strong even today. While pirating and custom firmware is what ultimately made the PSP so strong, it still had amazing games and was one awesome system.
I remember seeing the PSP back in late 2004 when images showed up online. I remember thinking it was the slickest damn thing to ever be invented and I HAD to have one. The problem was I was a 14-year-old teenager with a measly allowance and broke parents. How was I to afford a $250 console ever? Well, pre-orders, of course, were a thing back then too and it was like a layaway program. Thankfully I got my pre-order in 8 months before launch as Sony only shipped one million units worldwide and there were none on store shelves after release. The anticipation was palpable and I remember making wallpapers (the one below has followed me from 2005 and sadly our PC was ancient and had an 800×600 resolution), talking on forums, watching videos, and just staring at images of the darned thing. I put $50 a month on the system until finally, I had enough for the console, sales tax, and Ridge Racer. I remember leading up to the last week of the release I talked about it to death with my family until they hated me.
Two days before the system was released games were already available to pick up. I remember picking up Ridge Racer ready to go. I was so fascinated by the UMD and held that little thing in awe as I read the manual page for page. I had the game and was so ready for the system and it couldn’t come sooner. March 24th rolled around and I remember not being able to sleep that night, it was like Christmas. There was no midnight launch for the system as there weren’t enough pre-orders for it, but I had my mom drive me to GameCrazy about 30 minutes before the store opened, about 9:30 AM. I stood in a line of about 50 people and waited patiently for my turn as I had paid for the system in full when I picked up the game.
As I stood in line I watched people walk out with those big boxes and as I got into the store the employees all had theirs out. I felt my heart race as I saw the system for the first time in person from afar. It is literally still one of the most beautifully designed systems ever made. I got up to the counter and saw my box there staring at me. I remember I had to pay one penny as for some reason it was short a cent. I remember everyone in the store laughing but I didn’t pay attention. I got a penny from the car and ran inside, threw that sucker down, and grabbed the box. The car ride home was tense despite only being a few minutes. I ran inside and tore the box open and remember holding the system for the first time through that anti-static styrofoam paper. The original launch system came with a 32MB Memory Stick Pro Duo (mainly for saves), a white leather wrist strap, a cleaning cloth, and a pair of headphones. It was gorgeous and beautiful. After playing with the system settings I popped in Ridge Racer and was just blown away by the game, and the rest is history.
This intimate moment I had with my PSP was a cherished moment in my childhood as I didn’t have that many. I look at my PSP units now and take them for granted as they are about $30 a pop and can be found anywhere. I grew even fonder with my system as homebrew was around the corner just a couple weeks after launch and before Sony even released the first firmware update. I remember how fragile hacking and downgrading and flashing the PSP units were. Thankfully I read things carefully and QJ.net had an amazing community that Dark Alex and other famous modders posted on. I never bricked a single unit, but I did break a unit. About 3 or 4 months later I attended driving school and while in line at a Subway during lunch I pulled out the system to check the time and I saw spider-web cracks along with the screen. I had put the unit in my front pocket and then sat down causing the material to stretch too tightly over the unit and crack it. My father knew an electrical engineer who could solder a new screen, but after paying $70 for it and him frying the motherboard it didn’t do any good. I was without a PSP for several months until the launch units were under $200. I got my new unit back and was more gentle with it than you could ever imagine.
Fast forward over 10 years later and I have had a PSP-3000 unit, and now own a PSP Go. I have added custom faceplates, taken the entire system apart and put it back together, and downgraded and modded the thing to kingdom come. I want to now talk about my personal favorite PSP games — a top 10 if you will. These are games I have played personally and I know the system has a massive library of over 3,000 games, but I have only played a fraction.
Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror — This was one of the first game I ever purchased for the system. I pre-ordered this game and tore it open when I got home. I even wrote a complete in-depth walkthrough for the game which was insane. Little did I know this would become one of the best games on the system and sadly, one of the last for the series. I played this game 100% and unlocked everything it was so damn good.
Ridge Racer — The first game I ever purchased for the system and one of the most memorable. The sense of speed was amazing, and the soundtrack was so good I downloaded it and listened to it elsewhere. I completed this game 100% as well and probably put dozens of hours into it.
God of War: Chains of Olympus — By the time Kratos made his way to the system I was already working and buying $40 games was nothing at the time. I pre-ordered this game and was probably never more excited for a game on the system. It was epic, felt just like the PS2 versions, and was the first game to use the 333Mhz in the processor and it looked gorgeous. It could be beaten in about 4-5 hours, but multiple playthroughs every so often are worth it.
Race Driver 2006 — One of the longest games I ever rented on Gamefly and for good reason. This game featured so many faces and classes of cars from rally to racing semi trucks. The graphics were incredible and the physics were amazing.
Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 Remix — One of the first games I ever bought for the system. I never got a chance to play THUG 2 so picked this version up. It’s one of the best games on the system and sadly the only good Tony Hawk game on the system. It featured rad music, excellent visuals, and smooth controls.
Mortal Kombat Unchained — This one was hit or miss with some people. I waited year after year for the next Mortal Kombat announcement and hoping one would be released on PSP. After Ultimate Mortal Kombat was announced for DS I lost all hope. When Unchained was confirmed to be a port of Deception I was all right with it as it contained the entire game. What got people mad was the lack of online play which helped the continuity of Deception on consoles. The game also featured badly compressed audio and the graphics were downgraded quite a bit. Konquest mode is one of the ugliest things to grace the PSP.
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep — When Square announced a Kingdom Hearts game for PSP it was no surprise. Shortly after the success of Kingdom Hearts II they thought it was a good idea to split the story and make it even more confusing. The game looked amazing and was a fully fledged KH game on the go. If you have CFW get the Final Mix version with undubbing and more added content.
Burnout Legends — This was one game I never actually owned. It was one of the most highly anticipated games on the system and for good reason. The sense of speed from Burnout 3 carried over to the portable at a solid 30FPS and was packed with content. The only downside was no online play, but it sure did look amazing.
Daxter — One of the first epic adventures on PSP that had the PlayStation touch. Fresh off the heels of Jak 3, Daxter put you in the shoes of the otsel and sent you off on a short but sweet adventure.
Tomb Raider Anniversary — When I realized my PC couldn’t handle Anniversary I was bummed, but the PSP version turned out to be an amazing port and was one of the best looking games on the system. The controls worked out well and the entire game made it onto the system. Play this over the mediocre Legendports.
The PSP is a legendary system. There were so many fantastic games on this console that it has been considered the second-best next to the GameBoy Advance. The PSP had a great start and a rough ending, but overall hundreds of games were released and a good quarter of them was worthy of being in a collection. Now, I have played and owned the PSP since that wonderful day on March 24, 2005, when I was a teenager and saved up my allowance on pre-order payments for 6 months. However, what ultimately killed the PSP sales-wise was piracy. The PSP was very easy to hack and many custom firmware were installed on the system and thus downloaded games. While this is possible on every console in existence the PSP became a Pirate Station Portable if you will. Emulators were made for the system so you can carry around SNES, GBA, Genesis, and even PS1 games on this thing. It’s a very powerful and versatile system and many things can be done with it.
While I can’t condone piracy, if you own a large collection of classic games it’s great to have them on the go with you and this became my main driving point for playing this system to this day. Outside of emulators, the PSP library is like no other. Racing games, action, and RPGs were among the most popular genres on the system. The PSP had one of the greatest handheld launches of all time with Ridge Racer, Darkstalkers, Lumines, Ape Escape, and many other brands on board. The system was sleek, the most beautiful handheld system ever created, and powerful. I remember booting up Ridge Racer for the first time and being overwhelmed by the graphical fidelity, sound, and large screen. This was also the first handheld with this large of a screen. We had widescreen gaming in our hand with a huge 4.3″ LCD and that was even bigger than phones back in the day. In 2005 you had BlackBerries with small screens and flip phones. Phone screens didn’t catch up until 6 years later. The PSP was way ahead of the time.
While many great games took forever to be released it was a slow trickle for sure. Huge games were milestones for the system like God of War, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, Gran Turismo, Tactics Ogre, and many others. These games defined the system as fantastic and there were also many other hidden gems thrown in there. There were also many JRPG ports that were only seen in Japan that were now ported to English for the first time and this trend continues with the Vita. The PSP was perfect for JRPGs that you could keep in your pocket. Now the PSP had many flaws like the terrible UMD discs that nearly crippled the system. The system also had many failed services like comics, Skype, UMD movies, and the terrible internet browser. The system remains great for watching movies, listening to music, and playing games but more so natively rather than through paid services. They just didn’t work on the PSP at all.
This will be my very last review of the PSP hardware line as it was the last (outside of the E1000 unit that was in Europe only). The PSP Go is a very difficult system to find these days as it is the least widely available. The PSP Go was released in 2009 and was discontinued barely 2 years later. The PSP had two previous models that greatly improved the system with the 3000 model being the best. Surprisingly, what drove sales were how easy the hardware was to hack and downgrade. The original model was the easiest to hack as it was mastered by the time the 2000 model came out. The 2000 model had a new motherboard and several hurdles had to be overcome with various firmware updates and are the least popular model of the three. The 3000 system didn’t take as long as Sony was slowing down on the firmware updates and the PSP Go was hacked in no time flat.
With that said, the actual system is even sexier than you could imagine. A slide-out PSP? No way! Many mock models were created for the PSP 2 that was said to be announced around the time of the PSP Go release. The system does have drawbacks over the original models but there are advantages that help iron some of this out. First off, the system fits in your pocket easier. The PSP wasn’t really the best for your pocket as it was very wide.
The Go eliminates the buttons on the side of the screen but putting the screen on top of the buttons which is a genius idea. While the chassis is now all plastic it’s still very sturdy. The system retains the overall shape of the PSP and has rubber feet on the bottom of the system and the PSP ring logo is now removed. The buttons have been completely rearranged, more dramatically than the PSP 3000’s arrangement. The new PS Button introduced on the 3000 is now on the top screen being the only button on there. The Bluetooth and Wifi lamps are at the top of the screen as well as speakers flanking the screen. It’s very minimal and looks great, and this is my favorite Home button so far on the system. On the top of the system are the usual L and R buttons but they are larger than the previous systems and lay more flat as they don’t makeup part of the shape of the system like before. The PSP has a volume rocker for the first time which is on top of the system and the screen and note buttons flank that. These are the only bad decisions as to when the screen is up these buttons are hard to press as you have to blindly feel for them. Your most used buttons are under the screen with the analog nub between the D-pad and face buttons which is interesting as it was under the D-pad previously. The nub is inset so your thumb stays inside and feels more like an analog stick and it sticks up away from the console but doesn’t tilt still. The D-pad is much improved as it doesn’t rock like previous systems and the face buttons are the exact same size as the Vita. You can actually see the influence of the Vita in the PSP Go.
With that said the buttons feel great and the body is nice. The power slider and wifi switch are very similar to the PSP 3000 on each side of the system, but the worst change of all is a new proprietary memory card called Memory Stick Micro. This was one last stab to combat piracy, but the internal flash actually helped it. The new memory cards are much more expensive than the MS Pro Duo cards that were widely available. So, if you upgraded to a PSP Go you had to ditch your Pro Duo which is an awful move on Sony’s part. While the internal storage is a nice 16GB for several games, a larger size would have been nice to eliminate the removable media altogether. 32 or 64GB would have been just fine and no one would have complained. On the plus side with this internal storage comes lightning-fast read and write speeds so load times are greatly reduced in most games. The Go also has Bluetooth 2.0 which no other model had. This was to connect Bluetooth headsets and the DualShock 3. Oh yes, you can play games with the DualShock 3 which is a nice feature, however, there’s no easy way to play as you have to put the Go on a flat surface. USB 2.0 was also removed and now has its own cable which means your other cables are out the window. If you lose this cable you’re screwed, however, USB A to B was being phased out as phones were using Mini B cables which is now a standard. Hey, at least it still has a headphone jack and mic.
Most people complain that the Go has a screen that’s almost half an inch smaller than the previous models. After a while, you don’t notice and the picture is extremely clear due to the better LCD tech inside the Go. The “looking through a screen door” issue is gone here and the screen is crisp and bright even by today’s standards. Overall, I can consider this the Gameboy Advance Micro of the PSP. Every handheld system usually has a miniature “best of” variation and this is it.
With that said, the PSP Go is my personal favorite system. I love the larger versions, the PSP 3000 is the best of the three, but something about ultra-compactness and the slide-out screen really sells the entire package. It’s a gorgeous system and it’s a shame it hasn’t been re-released. The only true way to play this is by buying the UMD versions, downgrading the firmware, and playing the backed-up ISO of your game. You can even downgrade a UMD PSP, and there are plugins that allow you to rip the game from the UMD onto the MS Pro Duo and then transfer it to your Go to completely circumvent piracy. This huge hurdle is probably what killed the Go and the fact that the PSN store is shutting down on the PSP natively this month is a crying shame. You can still buy and purchase PSP games, but eventually, those will go away as well and this hacking circumvention will be the one and only way to even get games on this system.
It’s also the rarest of the variations as a new system will run you over $200 which was the original price point and even just finding one in good shape is a chore on its own. I picked up a beat-up system near me for $80 with the charger, and it was the only one in my entire county. I later tracked down the white model used in perfect condition for just $100, but again, most cheap Go systems are extremely beat up. If you don’t care about that then $60-80 is your price range which isn’t bad.
Here we have another collection of games that are almost completely worthless. Capcom was never well known for puzzle games so why not just stick these in another larger collection? All we get are 2 lousy puzzle games and one good one. Buster Bros. has three variations! The game sucks as it is why do we need three? The only worthwhile game is Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. BlockBlock is just a Breakout rip-off and is less fun.
Honestly, even Puzzle Fighter looks like crap on the PSP. These games were poorly ported and with such a small selection who would want to buy this when the back says 6 games? I played the entire collection in less than 30 minutes and was done with it. Buster Bros. consists of shooting arrows straight up that are supposed to pop bouncing bubbles. It’s extremely difficult and no fun at all. Puzzle Fighter is a gem/Tetris hybrid that many may be familiar with. Chibi Street Fighter characters punch each other when blocks fall. Your goal is to chain colors together and drop the breaker block to set the chain off. Your blocks you broke then fill your opponent’s wall. It’s a lot of fun and this is the only game I could go back to. However, there are more fun variations of this game (Puzzle Kombat from Mortal Kombat: Deception/MK3 for DS).
There aren’t even any great extras like in other Capcom collections. The game is just dull and boring and even if you bring a friend along in ad-hoc you’re just going to waste their time as well. If Capcom were to have included some newer puzzle games from their catalog or just added these into other collections it wouldn’t be such a big deal. As it stands there’s not much to really say about 3 small games. It’s not worth the money or your time as even a rental. Just stay away from this and enjoy your memories of them instead.
These classic compilations from publishers are hit and miss. They can either be amazing (Midway Arcade Treasure 2) or complete crap. Reloaded falls kind of in-between. Here we have some great Capcom games like Street Fighter II, 1943, Ghost & Goblins, and Knights of the Round. On the other hand, we have multiple versions of one game which is completely unnecessary where other games could have been. Do we need two versions of 1943? Three versions of SF2? 3 versions of Ghost & Goblins? No, we don’t. Instead, just give us the superior versions.
Ghost & Goblins includes the original NES version, arcade, and then the superior Super Ghosts & Goblins for SNES. Just give us the SNES version! I don’t care about the other 2. For Street Fighter II we get the original arcade version, Champion, and Hyper Fighting. Just give me Hyper Fighting! I honestly don’t know what Capcom was thinking. If it’s not multiple versions it’s duds. SonSon isn’t all that great and I didn’t care much for Vulgus. There are better Capcom classics that could have taken their place.
Thankfully there are other features inside the game that are nice such as save states like in emulators and your scores are tracked. You can also use these score “coins” in the slot machine to unlock extras such as cheats, art, and other things. Local multiplayer is a nice addition to games like Street Fighter and Knights of the Round. Infrastructure would have been much nicer, but given the poor software sales, it would have cost too much money to keep servers going.
The games themselves are nicely emulated with no slow down. The screen is nicely fit to the PSP’s widescreen without looking stretched out and grainy so I give it credit for that. You have to take each game with a grain of salt because some of these are over 20 years old. Don’t come in expecting innovative new ideas and amazing graphics. These games are fun to play as a weekend rental but only people who grew up with them will truly appreciate these games. I just wish there weren’t so many duplicates and so many duds.
I don’t know much about Black Rock Shooter, but I know it’s highly popular in Japan and has made its way to the US. The premise of the story is interesting. Mankind was destroyed by machines and only a few humans remain alive. Black Rock Shooter is mankind’s heroine and you play that role in the game. There’s some shooting involved and minor exploration but the game feels like a cheap cash tie-in for the franchise.
Exploration consists of wandering extremely linear and ugly environments to find enemies to kill. When you get into battle you are stationary and must use the analog nub to control your gun and press square to fire. As you continue to fire your gun will overheat and will do less damage. This is an interesting idea, so you don’t spam shots. Enemies advance on you and you need to block or use defensive special powers to reduce damage taken. There are many special powers to unlock but they have long-cooled down timers. This seems fun at first but after the first few levels, it gets tiring. It’s really easy because you are given plenty of health packs and it’s not hard to judge the enemy. Each battle plays exactly like this, even bosses.
When you’re not shooting you’re just running around and that’s the entire game. There’s no handing out stat points, and the story drags on and is pretty incoherent. I didn’t get attached to any of the characters, and couldn’t even finish the game. The game has good Japanese voice acting but the game is downright ugly even for PSP standards. The textures are so low resolution and muddy that you can hardly make out what it is. The models are ugly with hardly any detail and everything looks out of proportion. BRS is nearly taller than 5 story buildings and all the environments look the same. There’s honestly not much fun here even for hardcore BRS fans. They may trudge through it for the story but that’s about it.
BRS could have been so much more given the license. Instead, we get an ugly dull shooter RPG hybrid that isn’t interesting at all to play. Why the game got a US release is beyond me seeing a lot of people have never heard of BRS and the game is so hard to find. There is a collector’s edition released in Japan and it has done much better over there.
This has been a long time coming. I have been trying to get through this game since it was released and just gave up. The game is not only difficult, but it’s so repetitive and strange. It has an odd vibe to it, but at least it controls well for the PSP and looks fantastic. The voice acting is spot on, but the story is so strange and broken up that I just couldn’t follow it.
That’s not to say the game’s horrible. All I know is that you play as Aya Brea from Parasite Eve (this is the spiritual successor) and you get jacked into a system where you can warp into people’s bodies and control them. Think of them as lives. Once one guy is dead you have to transfer to another body or you will die. As you bring down the health of these parasites that have taken over New York City a yellow triangle will flash over them that lets you transfer into them and do massive damage. This is essential to winning most boss fights. You just run around blasting everything with traditional military weapons, but at least you can upgrade them. Adding more power, accuracy, and various other things require points that you acquire through completing levels. There are a plethora of weapons in the game from handguns to rocket launchers. It’s nothing special and I wish there were more unique weapons. The combat is fun at first but gets tiringly repetitive as you get further in.
Every level nearly plays the same. You blast through parasites, transfer through bodies, then fight a boss. Sometimes you have to destroy nodes to advance, but it stops being fun less than halfway through. The bosses are extraordinarily tough and you will die dozens of times. If you shoot stuff long enough you get Overdrive which allows you to do massive damage, but there’s a weird pause between every few shots and it wastes precious time. Some bosses I died on dozens of times and nearly gave up — they have multiple life bars and if you don’t beat them a certain way you never will.
The action never lets up, but the pacing is so poorly balanced. You get a good run through a level then suddenly are have to run from some unbeatable monster. The platforming is atrocious and even climbing ladders can be hard. I died multiple times because of how linear the levels are and I just couldn’t maneuver properly. The game could have been one of the last great PSP games if it just had more polish. The graphics are fantastic with some great lighting effects and good-looking textures. There are just too many issues for this to be considered one of the PSPs ‘ best.
Overall, The 3rd Birthday has a lot of amazing aspects and ideas, but they fall flat because they weren’t fleshed out all the way. The platforming sucks, the game is just too damn hard, and it’s overly linear. The story is an unfocused mess, but at least the game looks amazing and the controls are great. The shooting feels good as well and there are a lot of customizable features. It just needs more polish, but what’s here is worth a rental or cheap bargain bin price.
Ubisoft thought it would be a good idea to start a whole new World War II franchise right at the height of the genre and when it was hated most. It was a huge gamble because everyone was already playing Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, and Battlefield. What could Ubisoft offer that these guys didn’t? For one, more realism. Brothers in Arms was the first WWII shooter to really portray the violence in the war. Every other shooter was like a shooting gallery. You shoot someone and they just fall dead. That feeling of realism from movies like Saving Private Ryan was never really translated in games, which it should have been. Brothers in Arms took the world by storm by being one of the best WWII franchises ever created, Ubisoft had a great formula here.
Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30
Release Date: 3/1/2005 — Xbox
GameRankings: Xbox: 88%
Road to Hill 30 was warmly received as being one of the best WWII shooters since Frontline. The game was more realistic and offered a tactical layer that other shooters didn’t offer. You couldn’t just stand out in the open and shoot everyone, you had to use cover and think about your next move. The game also looked fantastic and pushed consoles to their limits. It also featured gore and violence never seen in Medal of Honor or Call of Duty. Everyone quickly forgot about the previous WWII games that were out and jumped into the addictive multiplayer. A new Call of Duty and Medal of Honor were due out at the end of 2005 so it was a perfect time for Ubisoft to release their virgin WWII shooter.
Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30
Release Date: 3/15/2005 — PS2, PC
GameRankings: PC: 87%
Two weeks later Road to Hill 30 was released on PC and PS2. While the game sold the most on PS2 it didn’t perform as well as the others. The PC version was slightly looked down on for awkward controls and the PS2 had really bad graphics and was somehow extremely difficult. The Xbox version remained the superior version.
Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood
Release Date: 10/6/2005 — PC, Xbox
GameRankings: Xbox: 85%
It’s strange to release a sequel less than a year later, but Ubisoft did it and somehow it lived up to the original. Ubisoft realized how much everyone liked the game on PC and released it alongside the Xbox version. The game had another strong campaign, improved visuals, and the same fun multiplayer. The game had many improvements, and everyone wondered how Ubisoft did this much so quickly. While not as groundbreaking as Road to Hill 30, it was still a solid shooter and made it out just before the new Medal of Honor and Call of Duty were released. Surprisingly, the game sold more on PS2 than Xbox this time around.
Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood
Release Date: 10/26/2005 — PS2
GameRankings: PS2: 74%
Ubisoft didn’t quite learn from their mistake from the last game and released a sub-par game on PS2. It featured worse graphics than the other versions and the AI just sucked. The game was obviously made on PC and was ported to PS2, the console was aging and just couldn’t keep up at the time. PS2 owners quickly forgot about this series because Earned in Blood would be the last BiA on current generation consoles.
Brothers in Arms: D-Day
Release Date: 12/5/2006 — PSP
GameRankings: PSP: 65%
The other two franchises had an okay outing on PSP so Ubisoft thought to give it a try. It didn’t pan out so well like the other games, and tried to put the same type of game on PSP and it just didn’t work. Ubisoft obviously rushed this because the game was glitchy and the controls didn’t work on PSP. It wasn’t a disaster, but sold poorly and was quickly forgotten. This would be the one and only BiA game on PSP. It did surprisingly well sales-wise by selling almost half a million copies.
Brothers in Arms DS
Release Date: 6/21/2007 — DS
GameRankings: DS: 72%
Ubisoft ditched the PSP and went with its competitor: The Nintendo DS. Ubisoft didn’t learn much from their last mistake and tried bringing a third-person shooter to an even weaker system. The graphics were terrible and the controls were worse than the PSP. It lacked a story like the console versions and the game was pretty basic. It was better than D-Day, but not by much. This would be the only BiA game on DS. The game also didn’t go over well for Nintendo. It only sold a measly 40,000 copies.
Brothers in Arms: Double Time
Release Date: 9/23/2008 — Wii
GameRankings: Wii: 46%
Wow boy, Brothers in Arms went from the king of World War II shooters to the pits in just three years. The series was pretty much on hold until Hell’s Highway was released later in the year. With two mediocre handheld games, Ubisoft tried out the Wii and it was met with being the worst BiA game ever made. Double Time was a port of Road to Hill 30 and they just slapped the game on Wii with no second thought. It was ugly as sin, controlled terribly, and was just no fun. It ruined the excellent original, the game seriously bombed. This would be the only BiA game on Wii.
Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway
Release Date: 10/7/2008 — PC, X360, PS3
GameRankings: PC, X360: 77%
Hell’s Highway was the highly anticipated trilogy finale and on next-generation consoles. The game looked amazing and played very well, the story was really interesting, but everyone was done with WWII shooters. EA tried it again in 2008 as well with Airborne, and everyone was just done. It didn’t stand up to the first two games, and BiA was pretty much on its way out. While Hell’s Highway was the last WWII shooter in the franchise, it continued later on iPhone with great success. Hell’s Highway was the most successful BiA game selling almost 2 million copies.
Brothers in Arms: Hour of Heroes
Release Date: 11/23/2008 — iPhone
GameRankings: iPhone: 69%
Ubisoft handed the reigns to its mobile division, Gameloft, while they worked on the reboot. Hour of Heroes was a success on iPhone, but suffered from funky controls and was lacking some polish. It played well and was better than the previous handheld efforts, but still could have been more.
Brothers in Arms: Global Front
Release Date: 2/22/2010 — iPhone
GameRankings: iPhone: 81%
2010 was really late to release a WWII shooter, but Gameloft did it anyway. The fire of hate for the genre had died down enough and the iPhone was a safe platform. The game was considered the best BiA handheld and featured great graphics, controls, and solid gameplay. It was only conned for poor AI and terrible voice acting. This would be the last game in the series, but at least it went out on a high note.
As you can see, just like the other two shooter franchises, Brothers in Arms started out great and quickly sunk into a mediocre abyss. The series has sold almost 5 million copies to date, not hugely successful, but enough to make it one of the top WWII shooters of all time. Handheld experiments didn’t pan out so well for the series either, and it shows that spin-offs and remakes don’t really work if you don’t change things around. Brothers in Arms still remains one of the best WWII franchises and took some serious risks coming out so late in the game. It offered a better story, more mature gameplay, and was just more solid in the end than Call of Duty or Medal of Honor.
From the late 90s to the late 00s we were bombarded by the game after game reenacting World War II in various ways. From heavy hitters like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor to simulators like Silent Hunter and Microsoft Combat Simulator. There was even a slew of strategy games like Hearts of Iron and Company of Heroes. Not all of these games were good, in fact, a majority of them were very bad. Towards the mid-2000’s everyone was tired of the WWII genre yet they still kept coming. The Medal of Honor series fell flat early on starting with Rising Sun, Call of Duty kept making the same game over and over again. It became deja vu when it was the same game with just better graphics, sound, and which series could push the dating consoles the most. I want to give you a bit of history about these games of history starting with the shooters. There were many of them, but what about the bad ones too? Were the little guys any good? Could they stand up to Call of Duty and Medal of Honor?
Call of Duty
Call of Duty
Release Date: 10/29/03 — PC
GameRankings: PC: 91%
Xbox 360: 72%
Almost 2 years after Medal of Honor: Allied Assault blew PC gamers away, Call of Duty came out. A lot of people were weary because the WWII onslaught was already in full force. What could Call of Duty do that Medal of Honor couldn’t? It pushed PCs to their limits at the time and delivered a fully cinematic experience that Allied Assault didn’t quite bring. It was a fantastic game with solid mechanics and played through some of the most memorable moments of the war. This was a game that started a revolution in the WWII series and would go on to be one of the most hated series in gaming history. In 2009 an HD remake was made for PS3 and Xbox 360 but received lukewarm reception because the game just didn’t age well.
After PC gamers heard that the next game in the series is going to be for consoles only they were furious. However, anger resided when the expansion was slated just a few months before the next release in the series. United Offensive was fantastic, probably even better than the original. Following Paratroopers this time as well as some highly cinematic events, United Offensive was solid and spectacular. While Medal of Honor was starting its quick descent into mediocrity Call of Duty was still holding strong. United Offensive remains one of my favorite Call of Duty games.
Call of Duty: Finest Hour
Release Date: 11/16/04 — Xbox, PS2, NGC
GameRankings: PS2: 77%
Finest Hour wasn’t Call of Duty 2 but was a highly anticipated spin-off until the sequel came. I remember being very excited about this because I didn’t have a PC that could run Call of Duty at the time. I remember watching all the preview videos on the OPM demo disc every month. Then I finally got it for Christmas that year, it was one of the most memorable World War II shooters I ever played. My only issue was that the grenades bounced around like rubber balls and the physics were awful, but it looked damn good. The game was highly cinematic and I had a blast and spent countless hours in the multiplayer. While this was the first Call of Duty game I played, critics were slamming the game for being another WWII shooter (which it was) and had technical issues. With that aside, it’s still worth a playthrough and is very fun.
Call of Duty
Release Date: 11/23/04 — N-Gage
GameRankings: NGE: 67%
While Finest Hour was at the top of sales charts, Activision thought it would be cute to help support the hot new phone: The N-Gage. This was more of a toned-down shooter and phones really weren’t that powerful back then. Java games on phones were the hot new thing. Porting the original PC game to the N-Gage was a huge mistake and suffered many technical issues that were expected. The game looked good for the N-Gage but suffered from draw distance issues and the character moved too fast. With that aside, it shows that games just can’t be dumbed down this much.
Here it is! Even though everyone was sick of World War II shooters by now and Medal of Honor kept digging a deeper grave, Call of Duty 2 was a must-have for PC owners. It was a new benchmark game that sold graphics cards and pushed hardware to its limits. It had high-resolution textures and great lighting effects, but could it stand up to the last game? Not really. It turned out to just be more of the same and lacked the cinematic moments of the first game. It didn’t do anything different at all but did show us some new sides of World War II that other shooters didn’t touch. It did have a strong multiplayer following for a few years until it died after everyone finally got tired of the genre.
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One
Release Date: 11/1/05 — PS2, Xbox, NGC
GameRankings: PS2, Xbox: 79%
With the next generation about to kick off with the Xbox 360, previous generation consoles were concerned about the Call of Duty series and how long it would last on these consoles. With just Finest Hour console owners were given a side game of Call of Duty 2 which was highly anticipated for Xbox 360 and was just released for PC. Big Red One was really fun but was given criticism for being so short and having mediocre multiplayer. I remember playing this and enjoying the large variety of missions and weapons, but you could beat it in about 5 hours. This would actually be the last Call of Duty to grace the GameCube due to Nintendo’s abandonment.
Call of Duty 2
Release Date: 11/17/05 — Xbox 360
GameRankings: Xbox 360: 89%
While the Call of Duty releases bombarded the holidays of 2005 Call of Duty 2 was one of the most highly anticipated shooters of the year for future Xbox 360 owners. It was one of the best launch titles for the system and garnered higher praise than its PC counterpart. It went on to sell millions and nearly every 360 owners had a copy. The only issue was that the game reduced multiplayer in half down to 8 players, but was still fun. The graphics were intact and looked just as good as the PC version.
Call of Duty 3, is the sequel no one asked for. By the time the end of 2006 rolled around everyone just wanted WWII to die already. Call of Duty 2 was fine and dandy, but Activision wanted one more hoopla for next-gen consoles and, surprisingly, PS2-era consoles. It pushed previous consoles to their limits and was praised for being a solid shooter. The next-gen versions were fantastic and featured amazing visuals. I remember playing this and being blown away by the rain effects and how great the textures looked. It looked way better than Call of Duty 2 even did on PC. This also pissed PC fans off because they never got to see Call of Duty 3, but they didn’t really care. Despite all the criticism, the game was still solid and had really fun multiplayer. Call of Duty’s sales were weird with this being the best-selling game in the series so far at almost 8 million copies. The push of the next-generation consoles helped and surprisingly the Wii version was the second best selling.
Call of Duty: Roads to Victory
Release Date: 3/13/07 — PSP
GameRankings: PSP: 64%
The PSP was going strong in 2007 but still hadn’t received a Call of Duty game. nearly 3 years after the handheld’s release Roads to Victory comes out which was a modification of Call of Duty 3. Being released on its own, and near the tail end of the WWII Call of Duty run, it didn’t have anything left to offer. Roads to Victory was mauled by game sites claiming it was too short, was the same thing yet again, and was way too short. It also suffered technical issues but had some really fun multiplayer. I personally enjoyed the game when it came out because FPS games on the PSP are scarce and 99% of them aren’t very good (Coded Arms). Roads to Victory is worth a look at if you are curious about this entry on PSP. The game sold surprisingly well and was a huge success on PSP despite the poor reviews. However, it didn’t quite sell as well as Medal of Honor Heroes.
Activision had a lot of guts doing this. The World War II shooters were finally phased out, Medal of Honor became a laughing stock, and Call of Duty had several good entries even late in the genre’s life cycle. Here comes Treyarch digging the genre up again, but to everyone’s surprise, it actually does something different. Building off the success of the Modern Warfare series, Treyarch takes you to the frontlines in Japan. This was a theatre of the war that was never really touched. The engine was based on the Modern Warfare one so long gone was the old Call of Duty engine. The graphics were fantastic and the multiplayer was addictive. People welcomed this older timer with a warm embrace, but no one else followed suit, no one had the guts. World at War was very cinematic and highly enjoyable. People who hate the genre should actually give this one a spin. Surprisingly, the series was still on PS2 (deemed Final Fronts) even in late 2008, however it was considered nearly unplayable, was extremely ugly, and was just no fun at all. World at War was the best-selling game in the WWII series and the best-selling WWII game of all time at 16 million copies. The game sold surprisingly well on PS2 for being the worst version of them all, and did well on DS as well with almost a million copies sold. It did the worst on PC.
Call of Duty Classic
Release Date: 12/3/2009
GameRankings: PS3: 78%
While World at War signified the end of the series’ World War II games, Call of Duty Classic tried to reignite that flame, maybe to test the waters for a whole new game? Classic had many technical issues and the first game just doesn’t hold up like it used to. Everyone was so sick of the series by this point that a remake of the first game was not a smart move. World War II shooters are a touchy subject with gamers, and unless you do something like World at War they won’t care what highly acclaimed classic your remake. A WWII shooter is a WWII shooter.
Call of Duty’s WWII series has sold over 35 million copies making it the best-selling WWII series of all time. It sold a few million more than Medal of Honor thanks to World at War making up nearly half the sales. Despite having fewer games they were of higher quality and that’s what gamers wanted. 6 long years of constant Call of Duty releases with 2005 being the strongest. It had some highs and lows but was also the most successful World War II series ever made. Its rival Medal of Honor didn’t do so well despite running for a longer streak, however, no one knows if Call of Duty will return to World War II again, hopefully not.