Games of 2008
The PSP has seen some rough times, but fortunately there were a handful of awesome games to hit store shelves this year. Let's see which ones deserve the bountiful IGN spotlight.
The first two God of War games on the PS2 proved to gamers everywhere the incredible feats that could be accomplished on Sony's aging system. Offering players an incredible taste of action, mixed with phenomenal sound and a sweeping musical score, the story of Kratos has been enjoyed by countless PlayStation enthusiasts. Chains of Olympus continued the tradition of high-quality action games by showing God of War fans what Kratos was up to prior to the first God of War. Chains of Olympus was a brilliant PSP game and should be included in every PSP library.
One of the most creative, enjoyable titles of the year was Patapon. A game that skillfully wove together rhythm gameplay with strategy elements and RPG undertones, Patapon was one of the most original games on Sony's portable and stands as a must buy for PSP owners. There's nothing quite like leading your trusty Patapon tribe onward via the beats of sacred war drums, as stylized art plays out joyfully in front of your eyes. Everything in this game, from the general presentation to the charming story, culminates into a one-of-a-kind experience worthy of any gamer's attention.
How cool is it to be relaxing on a bus or train and piloting a futuristic racing craft at the same time? WipEout Pulse, the most recent portable edition of the greatly loved franchise, continues the series' standard for slick, fast-paced gameplay down sci-fi inspired tracks. Pulse brought back the classic WipEout gameplay but offered some subtle refinements to please long-time fans. New tracks offered more challenges to series veterans and a satisfying multiplayer option rounded off the experience. If you've been itching to scream down the race tracks of the future, shaving seconds off your lap time, the world of WipEout is the place to be.
Final Fantasy VII has long stood as one of the best Japanese RPGs of all time. After Dirge of Cerberus told the tale of Vincent following the events of the original game, 2008 heralded the arrival of Crisis Core, the game's proper prequel, which depicted the exploits of Zack Fair, Cloud's close friend and aspiring SOLDIER member. Crisis Core not only looked great for a PSP game but boasted incredible production values -- something we've come to expect from Square Enix's games. The RPG featured an exciting combat system that combined menu-based commands with real-time action, along with a constantly spinning slot machine that dictated your Limit Breaks and leveling. Fans of the original Final Fantasy VII should definitely check this one out.
Few games this year offered as slick and streamlined an interface as the mind-bending puzzler, Echochrome. While most modern puzzle games task players with manipulating a particular object or series of items, Echochrome challenged the norm by giving you control of your entire perspective, rotating the game world to bridge gaps and create spatial illusions with just a few twists of the camera. The PSP version featured a different set of levels from its PS3 counterpart and will definitely keep you occupied during long plane rides. Just be careful you don't accidentally fall through a hole in space...
There's no getting around the fact that a lot of sports fans are also proud PSP owners. While most of the highest profile games this year belonged to different genres, a few sports titles made it onto our list for this year's best PSP hits. FIFA Soccer 09 is one of those games. Yet another iteration of EA's soccer franchise, FIFA 09 brings with it an enhanced animation system and Be A Pro Seasons, among other refinements. An improved camera system is also present, giving this a slight edge on its PS2 counterpart. All in all, FIFA is a fun game with some of the best Be A Pro modes around, despite being visually limited.
For years, developer Clap Hanz has been making the sport of golf not only incredibly accessible but terribly fun. The original Open Tee delighted PSP owners with nearly limitless unlockables and a great potential for leveling up. Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 surpassed its predecessor in just about every way, even if it was only by a few degrees. Open Tee 2 boasts an impressive 24 playable characters, 12 courses and an insane amount of clothing and customizable options to keep you playing for a very long time. New to this iteration of the Hot Shots franchise is Wi-Fi multiplayer, which not only ran well (for the most part) but was a total blast to play. Even if you're not a fan of golf, you owe it to yourself to check this game out.
There's almost no gamer on the planet today that hasn't at least heard of the iconic Space Invaders, an unquestionably classic top-down shooter that inspired countless shooters thereafter. Space Invaders Extreme embraced its shooter heritage and revamped the classic formula with sharp, colorful visuals, a slamming soundtrack and minor -- yet effective -- gameplay refinements. Although the gameplay formula might be overly familiar to some who have been playing this game for decades, the refreshing take on the franchise pleased many PSP owners and this shooter ranks among the best of 2008.
You know you're in for a wild ride when a game's title includes an exclamation mark at the end! Downstream Panic! was a lot of fun and stands out as an extremely high-quality (albeit difficult) game of 2008. Combining the "save as many as you can" dynamic of Lemmings with the environmental destruction and indirect control of Worms and you've got Downstream Panic! in a nutshell. By altering a level's terrain, players helped guide a troop of cute, innocent fish towards the bottom of a level while keeping them out of harm's way. The game's visuals were charming and the challenge kept players coming back for more. Don't miss your chance to check this one out.
If you're a devoted soccer fan, chances are you're trying to (or have been trying to) decide between games like FIFA 09 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2008. Truth is, both games are enjoyable and offer a solid soccer experience, but Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 does have a few advantages to its name, including a more expansive list of moves and modes pulled right off its console counterparts. That's actually one of the defining strengths of PES 2008: the portable version is surprisingly similar to the console offerings, and that's great news for soccer fans wanting some footy action on the go.