PSX Extreme Editors' Picks
You've seen our consensus GOTY picks for the PS2 and the PSP, but today you'll get our personal choices of other games that we really enjoyed this year. These might not be the highest scoring games in our review database, but that doesn't mean they didn't suck up tons of our time and make our significant others jealous of how much attention we paid to a game, rather than them. If you haven't checked out any of these games, and you dig the genre their in – do yourself a favor and head to your nearest Blockbuster and give them a shot. Now, on to the show.
Aaron's Extreme Picks:
LEGO Star Wars (Traveller's Tales/Eidos) PSX Extreme Review Score: 8.4
Yep, you read that correctly, my pick is in fact LEGO Star Wars. I'll admit, I was as skeptical as the next person when this game was announced, but five minutes after I started playing I could tell it was going to be a great ride. The level design is solid, the graphics are nice, the sound is top notch, and most importantly the gameplay is great. The game is broken down into episodes so you can essentially play through the movies, alone or co-op. Running through the levels as your favorite Star Wars character alongside a friend is a blast, especially when they kill you on accident an you retaliate by beating them with your light saber. It's fun for kids, fun for adults – it's just an enjoyable experience all around.
Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition (PSP Version) (Rockstar Leeds/Rockstar) PSX Extreme Review Score: 8.4
Let's get this our of the way first – yes, the load times are awful. Midnight Club 3 is an ambitious game to put on the PSP, but for the most part, the transition from console to handheld was smooth. There are three huge cities (San Diego, Detroit, and Atlanta) to roam, as well as customizable, cars from Lexus, Mercedes, Mazda, Gummer, Nissan and more. The graphics are pretty good and the soundtrack features Beenie Man, Lil'Wayne, Nine Inch Nails, Twista, The Game, Queens of the Stone Age, Marilyn Manson and tons of other great artists. It's not the best racer on the PSP; that honor goes to Burnout Legends; but Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition is certainly the deepest.
Frank's Extreme Picks:
We Love Katamari (Namco) PSX Extreme Review Score: 8.5
To be honest, God of War is my overall game of the year. However, since that one made our main list, I absolutely must give We Love Katamari props here. Few games are relaxing. Fewer still are charming. We Love Katamari manages to be both relaxing and charming, and fun too! Rolling up stuff into a giant sticky-ball is the video game equivalent of a zen garden. People complained that Namco didn't change the basic formula (they're right, Namco didn't), but I say "so what." We Love Katamari offers more missions and more environments than the original did, and the camera actually works this time. That's all I need. I want to roll you up into my life.
Sony didn't quite plan for their PSP handheld to run emulator software, as evidenced by the company's continual attempts to lock out homebrew with each subsequent firmware update, which is a shame, since homebrew is easily one of the PSP's best features. If you have a unit with a 2.0 firmware or older, you can download and run some pretty amazing programs. My favorites are the Sega Genesis, PC Engine, and Super NES emulators that let players take classic games like Gunstar Heroes, Soldier Blade, and Smash TV on the go. Considering how spotty the PSP's software release list has been, is it any wonder that some people are rabid about maintaining their ability to use homebrew emulators? MP3 and movie playback is well and good, but a video game system needs to offer players a wide variety of games. If Sony really wants to put an end to homebrew, they'll kick game output into high gear.
Cavin's Extreme Picks:
Shadow of the Colossus (SCEI/SCEA)
PSX Extreme Review Score: 7.5
This is really quite an amazing title. I've just never seen a game emulate sense of scale and movement so viscerally. I know it's been said in every review of Colossus from here to Bangkok, but nothing matches the thrill of tackling these huge, magnificent beasts. I can admit the game has problems – the framerate, the lack of difficulty once you figure out how to take down a giant, and so on – but in special cases, and this is one of them, the experience ultimately outshines what flaws pop up. Sequel on PS3 please!
Ridge Racers (Namco)
PSX Extreme Review Score: 8.4
This series always seems to fly under the radar. Ridge games also always seem to pop up at the beginning of a system launch, as it did with the PSP. That probably accounts for the initially good sales, but as other, better marketed racers appear on the scene, the franchise is quietly tucked away until the next new piece of hardware comes out. I fear that titles such as Burnout Legends and Midnight Club 3 have already made people forget about what a wonderful, content-filled, speed-driven racer this is. It has the proverbial lockdown on crazy drifting action and its wonderful aesthetics still make it one of the best racing games for the PSP. If you've only recently gotten one, it wouldn't hurt to go back and try Ridge Racers out.
Bill's Extreme Picks:
Tekken 5 (Namco
PSX Extreme Review Score: 9.1
The Tekken series has always been up there in the list of some of the best fighting games ever, and even after a disappointment in the 4th game, the games were (and are) still cherished by many, including myself. When the inevitable news of Tekken 5 hit, I was a bit dubious at first, as a lot of companies seem to be fail when attempting to revive a long going series. Fortunately Namco got it right. The gameplay is as brilliant as ever, using the great formula that we've come to expect from the series and actually expanding on it. Everything flows a lot better than its predecessor, both in the actual gameplay and in the improved single player modes. The graphics are simply sublime, probably some of the best I've ever seen on the PS2. Each character is really well designed and the array levels look amazing, ranging from rooftops to a moonlit field. The soundtrack, whilst not as gripping as the rest of the audio, is more than made up for with great sound effects and voiceovers; every character speaks in his/her nation's language, which is a nice touch even if it is a tad confusing. I personally don't see a single fault to the game, although it doesn't feature online, that wouldn't effect me anyway (yes, I don't play games online just yet). Probably one of, if not the best fighting games I've played on for a very long time.
Star Wars Battlefront II (Pandemic/LucasArts)
PSX Extreme Review Score: Not Yet Reviewed
Even though I don't really think this the best game on the PSP at the moment I can't help but love it. I've only been an owner of the console for a week and out of titles that I own, I've played this one the most by a long shot. The controls can be a little tricky at first, as aiming is made difficult with the lack of a second analog stick, but it can be easily overlooked due to the simplicity of the rest of the controls. The graphics look great on the small screen, and allthough they may not be as awe inspiring as the console version, it still does itself justice, showing off the impressive visuals of a hectic encounter with an enemy. The characters and well known soldiers of the franchise are all recognizable and look just as good, if not better, as those in other Star Wars games. There's also a great score as well, using music composed for the films in all the right places, coupled with the trademark sound effects, to give the game an authentic feel. This installment features battles set in all 6 of the Star Wars episodes, and now includes jedis and star fights. Whilst these two additions may not feel as good as other Star Wars series based around them, they still work well within the game. The several different types of single player modes, including galactic conquest, challenges and instant action, along with a great multiplayer mode makes Star Wars Battlefront 2 a very fun game to play.
If you haven't played any of the above games, do yourself a favor and rent some of our Extreme picks over the holiday break. We'll have our most disappointing games of the year tomorrow, so if you like negativity you can look forward to that. Finally, on Tuesday we'll wrap things up with your picks for Game of the Year.