In case you haven't noticed, the PSP is getting its game on--or trying to, at least. With a solid software push this year and a revamped
I had heard tons of hype for years (since the original PSP launch in 2005, in fact) about Gran Turismo going mobile. This long-expected virtual vaporware became incredibly tangible for us this week, and will be available to everyone else October 1. I was excited, even though I'm not utterly wild about the hard-core tuning that lies at the heart of GT's automotive fetishism. I do like racing games, and the PSP hasn't had a really good one in quite some time.
As a result, it surprised me to find that
That's not to say the game isn't without some great features. The car physics, for realism's sake, are probably second to none on the PSP. Game controls are fluid, and the 60fps gameplay is always smooth. The track selection and car selection is incredibly impressive, especially GT's library of 800 vehicles. The problem is that every day only four random dealerships offer up their cars for purchase, in what looks like an attempt by Polyphony to create scarcity so that gamers can trade their cars in a Pokemon fashion. That's a nice idea, but the randomness means that there's no way to try to achieve anything. Single-player mode involves simply selecting a car, selecting a track, and racing. Without a true career mode or any build-up of unlockables, GT becomes merely a credit-collecting initiative. It's also weird that Gran Turismo only allows you to race with three other AI vehicles, eliminating the excitement of larger-scale races. For a car enthusiast, Gran Turismo still represents a pinnacle of software simulation. But in this PSP edition, it's more racing simulator than game.
Gran Turismo looks really good and while I think I liked playing it a little more that you did, Scott, it does feel more repetitive than Arctic Edge and lacks some of the strategic elements of that game (it's always exhilarating to knock your opponents off a cliff or into a rock face). Gran Turismo has always been about upgrading and tweaking your vehicle and while the graphics, as I said, are certainly excellent for the PSP, there's not enough eye candy on the PSP to make Turismo as compelling as you'd hope. I enjoyed it to a degree but I think Sony needs to a find a way to deepen the actual racing elements of the game and make it more goal-oriented.
On the other hand,
I'm not sure Sony meant for MotorStorm to trump Gran Turismo, but for me that's what happened: one is an arcade-perfect racer that's ideal for mobile quick fixes, and the other is an exercise in simulation. Both have great physics, but I prefer Arctic Storm.
The most impressive thing about MotorStorm: Arctic Edge is how well the developer, Bigbig Studios, has managed to "port" the PS3 MotorStorm experience to the PSP. The game just looks and plays like the PS3 versions of the series, and the graphics are some of the best I've seen on the PSP. You may not get quite the adrenalin rush that you get playing MotorStorm on the PS3, but the addition of snow/ice vehicles is a nice touch that injects some freshness into the franchise, and I thought the tracks were varied enough to keep things from getting too repetitive.
I think we both agree that the ad-hoc multiplayer could have used some bots (you have to figure that most of the time you're only going to be facing off against only one or two of your buddies at a time), but regardless, it's nice to be able to go head-to-head without having to deal with a split-screen interface.