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Cover Critic
Covering the PSP's First Birthday
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on March 10, 2006   |   Episode 53 (Show Archive)  

   
It seems like just a few days ago we were looking over all of the big Xbox 360 covers coming out this month. While that was fun, we shouldn't ignore the other system that is having a big month. This month the PSP will have its one year birthday, and to celebrate Sony and all of the third parties are unloading everything they have. Here are just five of the big PSP games expected to hit this month, five that we felt we should comment on. Some of your favorites may be missing, but who knows, maybe we'll get to Splinter Cell Essentials and Syphon Filter in another episode. For now just enjoy these five PSP stand outs!
Pursuit Force
I love Pursuit Force! I knew it was right up my alley from the moment I played the demo and can't get enough of the review copy I am currently sporting. It combines the fast-paced, balls-to-the-wall action of Burnout with the ability to change cars, like in Grand Theft Auto. But your local Pursuit Force officer isn't going to slow down, get out of his car, and commandeer a car, he's going to fling him self from one car to the next in dramatic fashion ... and that's where the fun starts! This is Pursuit Force, and this is the way to start an episode of the Cover Critic!

Or, at least I thought this was the best way to start a show about PSP games; after all Pursuit Force is one of the strongest games of the month. But there's something about this cover that bothers me. It's not the stylish cop car that is about to be blown up, it's not the casualties in the background, and it's not that this all seems like excessive force. What troubles me about this cover is what that woman is wearing. I'm all for sexy women getting into high speed chases with the cops, but is that really the type of costume you want to die in? And why aren't the bullets he's shooting hitting her? He's only a foot away from her, you mean to tell me that he's got the skill to literally jump from his car to the motorcycle but his aim is so bad that he can't kill a bra-less girl who isn't even looking where she's going? You know what, on second thought I kind of like this cover!
Metal Gear Ac!d 2
Metal Gear Ac!d 2

VERDICT:
C-
It's been a year since the original Metal Gear Ac!d took the world by storm and ... well, okay, it didn't exactly take the world by storm, it was more of a slight breeze. The Ac!d series may be a critics darling, but they left more than a few gamer completely confused. To some it was a cool extension of the Metal Gear universe, but to others it just seemed like a card game with almost no instructions. But here we are again, one year later looking at another addition that will no doubt continue to confuse and divide Solid Snake fans ... only now in 3D!

There is no confusion about this Metal Gear Ac!d 2 cover, it's entirely too busy. Metal Gear has been known for its unique artwork, but apparently the people that designed this cover didn't know that. It's an action shot that makes both characters look like they're being melted by a very hot light. There's so much on this cover that it's hard to focus your eyes on any one thing, ultimately giving you a headache! When you have a name like Metal Gear Ac!d you shouldn't make your artwork look like it was drawn by somebody on Ac!d. Perhaps in the end this is the easiest way of knowing this isn't a Metal Gear Solid game, it has the crummy art!
Daxter
When it's your first solo outing and you want to be noticed, posing for a cover like this won't hurt your career. Not only is this Daxter's first game without Jak, but it's also Sony's first brand new 3D platformer for the PSP. Up to now Sony has only released remakes, including Medieval and Ape Escape, but this is a new game and Sony wants to show it off with a shot of their proud ottsel!

Some may consider this cover to be a bit boring, there isn't much going on; but I rather like it. Here we have a striking shot of Daxter with his weapon of choice, clearly happy to be doing an honest days work. Or maybe he's just happy to be killing stuff. Whatever the case, he looks happy and that does a lot for getting people confident in your product. But this isn't just an obvious shot, observant gamers will notice a mysterious figure in the background that looks to be about a thousand times larger than our furry hero. But that's just one of the mysteries of Daxter, a game that really invites you to experience its depths. So to the people out there that contend that this cover is boring, I think you're missing the point. It's not about shocking you with action-packed artwork (like Pursuit Force); it's about welcoming you to this new platforming series. Who is that big guy behind Daxter anyway?
Field Commander
Field Commander

VERDICT:
C-
It's Sony's answer to Advance Wars, a 3D turn-based strategy game that allows you to take out some of the best war machines and kill hundreds of people with them. At this point I don't know whether or not Field Commander will live up to the Advance Wars pedigree, but I can already tell you that this cover has me more than a little worried. And that name Field Commander doesn't do much for me either, it has me worried that the game may just be another generic rip-off of a great game on another handheld. But we'll see.

I'll give this cover art one thing; it has a nice old-timey look going for it. It looks like the kind of thing you might see on a book or video about World War II. It even has the big, pissed off soldier who is plotting his moves with his trusty binoculars. Hey wait a second, isn't that the Rock? What's he doing here? Isn't he supposed to be ruining all of those video game movies (Spy Hunter, Doom, etc.)? And what's with all this green. I know it's a military game and all, but does it have to be so ugly? I get the feeling that freedom is on the march ... and it's going to screw up our clean clothes. I don't like this cover and I have a hunch it's going to be a hard sell to a lot of PSP owners.
Me & My Katamari
Me & My Katamari

VERDICT:
B+
The Good: Me & My Karamari is a brand new Katamari Damacy game exclusive to Sony's PSP. The Bad: The PSP doesn't have two analog sticks, one of the most important aspects of the series. The Good: The game is going to come with all kinds of great music I know I'm going to want to listen to over and over again. The Bad: The PSP's speakers aren't very loud and I hate using those Sony headphones! The Good: This cover makes me excited about going outside in the hot days and celebrating the good weather. The Bad: I live in Washington, we rarely have good weather. Yesterday it snowed, and it's dark and gloomy all the time. The Good: I can continue doing this Good/Bad routine all review long. The Bad: But I won't!

It's a Katamari Damacy game, one of the best new franchises to come out in the last few years. This is the first (and possibly last, if you believe the creator) Katamari game to be released on the PSP; and this cover certainly goes a long way to give off a nice and warm first impression. We have all of the characters you know and love from the series, plenty of familiar locations, and a hot air balloon you probably won't be able to fly in the real game. This is as colorful as you can get and stylistically this is as far away from the We Heart Katamari cover art as you can get. It's wild and cooky, and also $10 more expensive than the PS2 versions ... what's up with that Namco??
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