Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday buying guide: PlayStation Portable

Holiday buying guide: PlayStation Portable

This is the final installment of atypicalgamer's weekly buying guides; previous posts cover the DS, Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3. Note that while I've tried to be objective, these posts ultimately represent my own personal opinions. Links take you to Amazon.co.uk, although it's worth pricing against other online retailers such as HMV.com and Play.com.
PSP_slim_white.jpg
Sony's first real handheld games machine was always going to be an event, and the PlayStation Portable did not disappoint. Arriving in the West in 2005, it was a stunning piece of hardware, less a handheld gaming device and more a sort of minicomputer, with a price to match. It was soon overtaken in sales by the DS, however, despite offering numerous extra functions.

It has just one screen, but a superb, sharply defined screen – as you’d expect for a machine built as much for watching movies and slideshows as for playing games; the buttons and controls fade out discreetly around it. Originally rather heavily built for a pocket gadget, the third and latest version is much more streamlined.

Should you buy it?

If you want a do-everything gadget (music, photos, video, games), then the PSP is a decent choice. It's an excellent way to watch films on the move, either via store-bought UMD disc, or ripped to a memory stick from your computer, while games look and sound just as wonderful. If that's not enough, then there are numerous attachments you can buy, to convert it to a phone, a GPS system, and even a Sky TV. Despite coming in a number of colours, it’s not huge on child-appeal and that goes for its games, too, although there are now plenty of original PlayStation games to download. It’s a favourite of the hacker community, who have managed to get it do all do all sorts of things it wasn’t designed for.

Summary of pros and cons

+ Games look and sound fantastic

+ PlayStation Store, accessible from the PSP or PS3 or PC (not Mac), where you can download demos and old favourite games from the PlayStation era.

+ Watch movies and other video in astonishing clarity

+ Store and use photos and music files

+ Wireless online play both ad hoc and via the Internet, plus web browsing

+ Remote play - if you’ve a PS3 you can view the media stored on it remotely

- Not so many original games on disc as some other formats

- Hassle of converting your own DVDs to watch on it

- So many functions can seem overwhelming; but you don’t need to use them all

Ten games to buy

1. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

2. God of War: Chains of Olympus

3.Lumines

4. LocoRoco

5. Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core

6. FIFA 09

7. Burnout Legends

8. Tekken: Dark Resurrection

9.Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters

10. Patapon

Other stuff to consider

Some bundles come with more accessories than others, so check before forking out what you’re buying already. And of course there's a number of official functional add-ons, which you can check out at Sony's site). But you might want some of the following, always checking they're for the right model of PSP.

Hard acrylic case

Additional Memory Stick Duo - it doesn't have to be Sony branded, but check it's compatible with a PSP

AV cable if you want to plug it into your TV


© Kate Berens, 2008

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