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August 12, 2005
PSP Previews & SchedulePSP UMD Movie Schedule

PLAYSTATION PORTABLE
AUSTRALIAN LAUNCH EVENT
THE GAMES

Prior to reading this article don't forget to check out Part One where we cover the presentations for the event and Part Two where we look at the general impression of the system as well as detail Sony Pictures very impressive list of movies coming to the PSP.

THE GAMES
PSP LAUNCH TITLES
Australian launch titles:
Ape Academy
Colin McRae Rally 2005
Darkstalkers Chronicle
Dynasty Warriors
Everybody's Golf
Fired Up
Formula One Grand Prix
Lumines
Medievil Resurrection
Mercury
Metal Gear Acid
Midnight Club 3: Dub Ed.
Ridge Racer
Spider-man 2
Tiger Woods PGA Tour
THUG 2 Remix
Untold Legends
V8 Supercars 2
Virtua Tennis: World Tour
Wipeout Pure
World Snooker 2005
World Tour Soccer
In the table to the right here is a list of all the launch titles that will be available for PSP launch. While not all titles were at the launch (there were only a couple we either missed or weren't there) all of the major titles were available. Please remember that these are very early impressions of the titles and full reviews will be available closer to launch.

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Virtua Tennis World Tour
The first game we got our hands on was Sega's highly anticipated Virtua Tennis: World Tour which is being distributed in Australia by THQ. Ever since we owned a Dreamcast we've been in love with this series however the translation to PSP was one we were a little concerned about. Would it even be possible to see the ball zooming around the court on the small (compared to TV) screen? We are extremely happy to report that this was not an issue at all as the ball could easily be seen even during the fastest of serves or overhead smashes. The graphics, as well as animations on the players, were silky smooth while the gameplay is as superb as ever. The controls were intuitive and possibly even more responsive then the Playstation 2 Virtua Tennis title. All-in-all Virtua Tennis on the PSP looks like a total winner.

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The liquid motions of Mercury.
QV Software also had a presence at the show with Archer MacLean's Mercury which was developed at UK codeship Awesome Studios. This launch title is certainly one of the more original games on the system as you try to guide your liquid ball through a maze like level. Still this is a game which is likely to not only keep hardcore gamers happy, but also gamers who enjoy puzzle solving games. It must be said that the liquid effects in the game were very impressive and the game seemed engrossing enough although it takes a little time getting used to controlling the liquid blob, or should that be tilting of the game world. From our time on Archer MacLean's Mercury we can certainly see the potential for a sleeper hit upon launch.

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Tiger Woods PGA Tour.
Next up was a trio of Electronic Arts titles was on display. These included Tiger Woods PGA Tour, NBA Street Showdown and Need for Speed: Underground Rivals. All three titles looked suitably accomplished. Starting with their golf title it's fair to say that Tiger Woods PGA Tour looked every bit as impressive graphically as the PS2 titles with some awesome animation on the golfers as well as gorgeous courses to play on. I guess it's not surprising given that many of the PS2 games assets were directly ported to PSP. Despite the fact that we only had time to play a couple of holes it's easy to see that this game will be a fantastic addition to the portable system although we really have to get used to the Precision Swing using the PSP's analogue slider stick which we found a little awkward.

NBA Street Showdown was a game which had me hooked for quite a while. The graphics really are astoundingly detailed and the gameplay seems spot on to the PS2 titles. One title that left us a little disappointed was Need for Speed: Underground Rivals. Compared to some other racing titles the graphics looks a little low in detail but the gameplay was fluid enough so we'll need to check this one out at length before giving a full verdict.

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Lumines is an extremely addictive title.
Ubisoft only had one title on display at the event (in fact the company hasn't announced any other PSP titles for Europe yet besides King Kong!) - but it is quite possibly going to be the game to have at the launch, Lumines. The game looks like Tetris but has plenty of style and combines music into the gameplay. It's not surprising given that it's the same game designer (Tetsuya Mizuguchi) that created Rez on Playstation 2. As you drop the blocks and connect the colours a line moves across the screen from left to right and "deletes" any joined blocks. As the game progresses connecting blocks becomes harder as the game increases in pace. Even now, a couple of days after the event we can't wait to get our hands on this title again - a good indication of great gameplay and longevity if ever there was one.

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Activision's Spiderman 2.
Activision had their three big PSP launch titles on show and they really looked quite special. Spider-man 2 is a game that not only controls well but also has some wonderful animation. The way Spiderman moves around the levels, climb walls and swings is quite beautiful while the small section of game we played seemed entertaining enough. Another title which we played was the Sony Online Entertainment developed Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade. It's hard to get into such a massive RPG styled action title in only a matter of minutes, it really is something that requires a good hour or two at least but what we played was visually impressive and seemed to have all the right ingredients for a solid title to complement the Champions titles on PS2. The third title Activision had on display was Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix. Unfortunately we didn't get hands-on with this game due to the number of people waiting for a turn. We did watch several other people playing the game and with silky smooth graphics, several levels not found in other versions and the same gameplay are sure this is going to be a massive hit.

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Metal Gear Acid
Atari had a couple of their launch titles on display at the event. Metal Gear Acid is one of those games that gives you heart flutters - or perhaps that was the caffeine I'd been drinking all day - but seeing a new Metal Gear title for the first time is always exciting. Visually there's no doubt which series this title belongs to with the same animations and stunning backgrounds we've come to expect. This game, however, isn't straight forward action but rather uses a card based system. It slows the flow of the game down considerably but the few minutes we spend playing the title was never going to be enough. We'll reserve judgment on this one for a later date, and far more extensive session.

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V8 Supercars 2 looked surprisingly good!
The second Atari title we played was one which is going to have rev heads very, very excited, V8 Supercars 2, or TOCA Race Driver 2 as it is known as in Europe. I'll admit that I had some reservations about this game on the PSP. Could the system really deliver solid graphics, destructible cars, 12-player modes through Wi-Fi and solid gameplay. The verdict. Yes, yes, yes and yes. This game has it all. Not only does the game run silky smooth but more importantly plays very well either through the digital control or analogue sliding stick (which takes a little getting used to).

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Everybodys Golf, one of the most enjoyable games.
As you can imagine Sony had a strong showing of titles at the event. First up was Everybody's Golf, a game which isn't realistic like EA's Tiger Woods titles but what it lacks in realism it makes up for in cute graphics and sensational gameplay. In fact, Everybody's Golf seemed like one of the most enjoyable titles on the Playstation Portable. The animation is minimal but the ball dynamics and tracking through the air is very solid. What is certain to make this game such a standout is the Wi-Fi modes which are certain to add plenty of fun.

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Are you fired up about Fired Up?
Fired Up is a game that has remained fairly well behind closed doors. Having been developed at Sony Europe the title will launch in our territory before Japan and America. The game is vehicular combat in the same mould as Twisted Metal or Hardware Online Arena. With support for up to 8-players through Wi-Fi the game promises to keep the thrills coming thick and fast. Indeed the game looks pretty nice graphically - the explosions were particularly impressive. The question still has to be asked however if the game will have much longevity in single player, or if it's more suited to multi-player thrills.

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Wipeout Pure looks stunning.
Finally we come to what is certain to be two of the biggest titles at launch, Wipeout Pure and Ridge Racer. Both of these titles offer exceptional racing thrills. Wipeout Pure not only looks brilliant but plays superbly as well. The game has been stripped back to its roots removing many of the unnecessary additions over the last couple of versions to make it much more instantly enjoyable. The game is lightning fast and includes some wonderful visual effects.

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PSP Ridge Racer - sensational.
Finally we get to Namco's Ridge Racer which continues the tradition of a new game in the series at the launch of a new Sony console. If you've read anything about the overseas launches you will know how great this title is. It's fast, smooth and introduces nitros to the mix making the game even more exciting then before (if that was possible). The game controls superbly through either the analogue stick or the digital pad and the developers have clearly put more emphasis on being able to slide out around the corners. This really is a fantastic return to form for the series and we can't wait to play the game at length.

There were some disappointments from the event. We didn't manage to see some of the launch titles including Codemasters' Colin McRae Rally 2005, Capcom's Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower, Koei's Dynasty Warriors, Take Two's Midnight Club 3: Dub Ed., Sony's Ape Academy, Formula One Grand Prix or Medievil Resurrection, nor Sega's World Snooker Challenge 2005. It may have, however, simply been a case that we missed some of the demo units in the crowded room or that they aren't quite complete and were unavailable for the show. All will be available at launch on September 1st.

From what we saw the Playstation Portable is a stunning piece of kit, but it's not just these games that will make it special but also the quality of the movies which we covered in Part Two of this feature, and even the technical specs and vision covered in Part One. The PSP is almost here ladies and gentlemen. Get ready for the revolution.