Tag Archives: psp

This Is Football Management – PSP Mini

By Neil McCormick

A football management game on a psp, this was something I had to try. Like it or loathe it, if you are a fan of football, at some point when you watch your team on a Saturday you will become an armchair coach, saying you could do a better job, the manager’s choice of tactics or Squad are wrong. For a number of years, you have been able to manage your team all be it virtually on a football management game. Sometimes you even read on football team forums that the manager of such and such a team should sign player x, just because he played a blinder in the poster’s Championship manager side.

If you have ever played a football game you will know that to be able to use actual team names and player names, game developers have to pay a costly licence fee. To get round this, developers will instead use a name that you can work out who they are. For Example Merseyside Reds = Liverpool. TIFM employs such a method, but handily provides an editor, which if you have the time and inclination means you can edit all the team and player names to their actual counterpart. Because the names look so similar, I do not think you really will benefit from changing the names, but at least its an option.

More important than having a correct name is that the stats for that player is as valid as what the player exhibits on the real pitch. TIFM’s developers seem to have gone to painstakingly great lengths to ensure they do correspond. The Gerrard character, plays with the same tenacity scoring those oh so vital goals at the crucial moment.

So the game starts, the first thing you must do is choose the team you want to manage. There may not be as much choice as in Championship manager of leagues to compete in, but I was impressed that they had managed to be able to offer 92 teams from the four English leagues ie Premiership right down to the Championship League 2 onto a psp. Once you have chosen your team as is typical of all management games, success is measured by results. If your team fails to meet the expectations of the Board, you will receive that dreaded vote of confidence and shown the exit gate. It was interesting to note that the Board’s expectations differed depending on the prestige of the club.

Now it is down to how you want to play the game, you can literally tailor it to meet your requirements. For any true football fan, you will want to get your sleeves rolled up and micro-manage all parts of the game from training to squad selection, to getting those all important tactics set up just how you want it. But maybe you are a more casual armchair fan, this sort of thing you want to leave to the experts. Not a problem, you can simply access the squad menu, press the square button and the “Coach” will automatically do all that for you. The question then I have to ask, is why are you playing a football management game when you want the Coach do all the fun stuff!

So Squad and tactics chosen, it now time for your team to let their football boots do the talking, When you start a match, you see an Intro screen giving a brief , now you have a choice, you can choose to either watch the match by pressing X, or skip all of that and press circle to go directly to the results. By doing so, of course, you lose any chance of affecting the result with real time substitutions or maybe the opportunity to react if you see that the tactics you chose are wrong.

As one might expect, the graphics are not the most complex, you do not even see any players, just a ball bobbing about from side of the screen to the other. To compensate, TIFM has a text update, describing the events on the pitch. The text describing the actions of the two teams is colour-coded, and the play-by-play descriptions are very neatly written so it’s easy to follow the action. You can also control the speed of the text by pressing L to slow it down and R to speed it up.

As you watch the events of the match unfold, you can press Start to call up the Match Menu, which enables you to tinker with many different aspects of the current game, such as changing the match view. You can also access the Team submenu to bring substitutes on and make any necessary tactical changes. In between matches you can get down to the general day-to-day business of running a team, including buying and selling players during the transfer window.

However there in lies a problem, this game is really only going to cater for sports management fans, there are far too many screens and stats for the armchair fan to get to grips with, it could feel quite bewildering. I certainly cannot recommend it over the pc versions of say championship manager, they are a far more complete experience. However if you are heading away on a holiday, and want something to do while relaxing, it would be perfect, or to fill in a boring train journey. I actually find it very impressive how much detail and depth of game play Sports Director has managed to cram into TIFM.

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Gravity Crash – Playstation Network – PSP

By Daniel Lipscombe

Gravity Crash

There are many reasons as to why Gravity Crash should be a great game. You fly a spaceship, everyone likes spaceships, it has bright neon graphics much like Geometry Wars, and it plays much like games of old, very reminiscent of the 16-bit days.

At first glance Gravity Crash is an intelligent shooter, it gives you the options of using twin sticks, or stick and buttons if you prefer. There’s a variety of special weapons from the off and after glancing over the menu, there’s an editor and multiplayer too. This good feeling keeps on giving as you start up the training missions; everything is wonderfully presented, vibrant and colourful, the soundtrack thumps through your brain and then the happiness abruptly ends as you pilot your little ship.

The reason that these twin stick style shooters work is the movement, the ability to flow in and out of dangerous situations and weave between enemies as you blow them to kingdom come. Gravity Crash lacks this essential quality. You remember that scene in Bambi where he steps on to the ice and all hell breaks loose? Controlling your ship is a little like that, no matter how hard you try steering that little spaceship is like trying to keep hold of a wet bar of soap. It squirms everywhere except where you want it to go, bumping into walls and inevitably draining your shield allowing you to explode on the pointy rocks.

After the graceful movement of games like Riff and Geometry Wars, Gravity Crash is awkward and clumsy. Obviously this uncertainty in movement is passed over to the shooting, concentrating so hard on where you’re meant to be flying, you invariably end up spraying bullets everywhere in the hope that they connect with something, anything.

The layout of the game itself harks back to old school shooters, flying over bases and destroying them, landing to pick up stranded astronauts – as long as you can prevent your ship from bouncing like a pinball – and collecting gems around space. There are of course many enemies to dispatch that vary in shape and size, working your way through each solar system will end in a boss fight, each of which are actually very well staged and fun to play through.

If you can master the controls the levels can be balletic in movement as the opening demo shows, but playing with this skill will take much time. Unfortunately playing this way is needed if you want to break the time records set on each level. I consider myself to be good at shooters like this and I struggled to get close to the times and after a few attempts became bored and moved onto the next level. But then even that didn’t always help, while the visuals are impressive upon first look, the levels become stagnant after time and offer little in variety compared to other shooters on the market.

With Gravity Crash does come with a level designer however, so if you have managed to plough through the campaign then you can dip your toe in the creative pool online. There are some cracking levels from the community so far and the game has barely taken its first breath, my only concern is that any game that features level design and shares a console with LittleBigPlanet is going to be in trouble and this is. With little in the way of tutorials, the editor is just a grid with shapes to layout and for anyone with little time it is something that will be passed over.

One of the main reasons that Gravity Crash will struggle is the wealth of other shooters that are undeniably better, on the PS3 alone. Riff: Everyday Shooter, Super Stardust HD, Shatter, even Burn Zombie Burn, these are all superior games with a lot more to offer. Gravity Crash is fun its own bonkers way, but with PixelJunk Shooter round the corner, it’s hard to see the appeal.

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Review: Little Big Planet (PSP, PSP Go) – Sony Entertainment Europe

By Special Guest writer – Daniel Lipscombe

ggn_little_big_planet_psp_cover
From the moment the dulcet tones of Mr Stephen Fry fall upon your ears, much like the PS3 version, this is going to be something very special. A game renowned for using your imagination and transporting you to a wonderful land where anything can be made and adventure is everywhere. Taking control of Sackboy, or Sackgirl if you’re of the fairer species, you must make your way through many strange worlds in order to collect the creators of each world and join them together at a carnival and celebrate LittleBigPlanet.

With so many environments to explore there’s plenty to play through. From an Australasian starting point, through the Arctic and even to Hollywood, each level is well designed and will bring a smile to even the most disgruntled person. The levels are full of charm and inspiration, from the rocks that are made of suede to the cardboard clouds that hang from an invisible ceiling with rope. Each and every detail is like a marvellous dream world where you can explore many areas and smile along the entire journey. This was the feeling that the original Ps3 version gave and I never thought that this game would be possible on Sony’s handheld, let alone look and play so well.

lbp 1Visually the game isn’t too far from the home console, except of course from the Hi-Def resolution, but everything else is there. Admittedly there are a few jagged edges here and there and when bringing up the poppit menu some of the icons are muddy and a bit ugly, but these can be overlooked as the levels themselves are lush to look at and quite honestly jaw dropping. The same high quality opinions can be applied to the audio, as each soundtrack to a level helps to sweep you away into the dream land that Media Molecule created and SCE Studio Cambridge brought to the PSP. Of course it helps that Mr Fry deals out linguistic wit that has you hanging on every word as he describes the next world that you’re approaching.

LittleBigPlanet__PSP__screenshot10The game doesn’t stop giving though as with each level you get a well designed romp through a platforming adventure that Mario himself would be jealous of. Each jump is calculated perfectly so that your timing needs to be on the mark for fear of plummeting to your death and respawning to try again. Luckily there is no number of lives, like the PS3 version, as this game can become very tough towards the end. Starting pretty smoothly, running and jumping with confidence, most obstacles are a breeze, but reach the later worlds and you’ll be respawning often and frustration will increase.

However if the difficulty gets on top of you, you can always create your own level or download other peoples creations. Yes, that’s right, even the create a level mode has been squashed into the handheld, and it’s as authentic as the original. Take a blank canvas a let your imagination run free, use the items and stickers that you’ve collected throughout the story levels and build just what /you/ want to see and play. Then when you’ve finished, share it with your friends or publish it and let the world judge your creation and test it to its limits.

LittleBigPlanet__PSP__screenshot1If you’re a bit shy and lack confidence in building your own playground, don’t you worry, let everyone else do the work and download some great levels. At the moment the choice is limited as the servers are quiet, but once the masters of level building come over from the PS3 and dabble with the handheld partner there will be some amazing content.

As with the whole game, there are plenty of tutorials to learn how to traverse levels, dress your sackperson and create masterpieces to rival the developers. This makes it easier for anyone to pick up the game and have fun with it, whether you’ve played a platformer or not. Its simplicity is key, with no more control than jumping or grabbing objects, a child, a parent or a grandparent can join in and play. Even creating a level takes no more than a few button presses to place your objects and move them around.

LittleBigPlanet-Coming-To-The-PSPThe scale of this game is shown by the ambition of the developers; the only thing missing from this handheld version is online play and teaming up with a buddy. Not much of a problem when everything else is here. If you’re a fan of the console version or not you will love LittleBigPlanet on PSP, it’s hard to believe that the game arrived intact and wasn’t a dumbed down version as it could so easily have been. Get out there, collect the items, collect the stickers and build your dreams.

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