Review by Five_Spice

"The beginning of the end for the competition"

Good lord. It was all I could do to pry my hands of that beautiful piece of technology, and sit down to write this review. I have to hand it to Sony this time. They stepped into unknown territory and came out victorious. At least in my opinion. Here's why.

Graphics- Well there's a lot to talk about here, how powerful they are, and how they compare to the current competition. In both cases, it's easily a win for the PSP. But you probably already knew that. The PSP has a very crisp frame rate that was quite impressive for something so small. It blows away anything else that has come out so far, and it holds its own even against a PS2 if you take into consideration how small it is. As for textures, in my opinion its even better than a lot I've seen on non-portable consoles, which should be no great surprise, as they've come quite far. The colours are rich and vibrant, and the brightness/shading/contrast are very nice. Clearly, hats off to the PSP for graphics.

Sound- Again, another landslide victory for the PSP. The sound is very clear, and it doesn't sound like every song was made using a digital keyboard *cough* GBA *cough*. Very nice, and the two button volume control feature is a lot better than a wheel in my opinion. Every sound the PSP makes seems justified. It doesn't have any annoying beeping noises, or annoying clicks that worsen with every time you switch a window. While the PSP does have noises for these things, which can be turned off if you wish, they aren't annoying at all. Kudos to whoever spent the time finding the perfect pitch and tone for that noise, because in every aspect of sound quality, even ones that you would expect to be bad, the PSP shines.

Game play- Well you can't have it all, but the PSP still did quite well for something that just dipped its feet into the water. The opening line up of games had some pretty good ones in there, and Sony tried to appeal to many types of gamers. Sadly, some were missed out. No real time or turn based strategy games were present in the North American launch titles. I personally would have loved to see an RTS on the PSP. Portable gaming has always been lacking in strategy games (Advance Wars wasn't too hot in my opinion). Its not the quality of the games that comes into question here, its the lack of variety and originality. I know this has been said over and over again, but other than Lumines all the rest were just normal games that don't fill that gap for launch titles. They were great, but you need games that go where others haven't gone before in launch titles. The games themselves were excellent however. A little originality like Feel the Magic or Yoshi Touch and Go would have been nice though.

Control- Another win for the PSP! The control in itself is great, and the design was obviously built with ergonomics in mind. The addition of a little pseudo stick was a great idea, and it doesn't steal room from the rest of the PSP, as some people feared. As usual with Sony the controls are excellent and well spaced out. I found no problem with the square button. My hands didn't get tired, and while some mean...people say it's too heavy for its size, it felt fine and they just haven't lifted anything other than a TV remote in their life.

Features- Well another hands down win for the PSP. Its packed with features, with built in on-line access, music and movie players, a pro duo memory stick drive, and a very nice menu. I was worried the menus on the portables might be too full of information and “clog up” the screen. There might be too much going on at once, making it difficult to read, but the menus are simple, flowing, and most important, they make it very easy to get the job done efficiently. As sort of a little feature to get rid of the redundancy that often hinders menus after long periods of use, the background colour changes every month. Not much, but a little change every once in a while in nice. The PSP clearly gets a high score in features, and as for comparison with the competition, don't get me started.

Quality- Everything that comes with the system is great, and the PSP is very high quality, as per Sony standards on gaming consoles. However this is where the competition gets its brief respite from the PSP's superiority. The battery life is not poor but it's not great either. When its not on it should be plugged into the charger unless you're on the go, but even if you are, it gets around 4 and a half to 5 hours. A lot of people seem to say 3 but don't listen to them. Its 3 with max settings and you will only be using those if you standing next to a floodlight and a speaker at a rock concert. I suppose you might be able to squeeze 6 or even 7 hours out of it, but that would be with no game running or a game that doesn't draw a lot of processing power. Both of these would be on the lowest settings of course. Other than battery life, the PSP is not as durable as its competitors, but its more for an adult or at least teen audience and if they have half a brain they won't drop it from any great height. Still though, although I haven't dropped it yet, it clearly isn't as fragile as some people say, and I'd rather have it the way it is than some huge thing with armor plating. *Flashes back to roll cage for the GBA*. Other than those two things, the quality is very nice, and the other good features more than make up for it.

Appearance- Surprised to find this here? Appearance is definitely important. You don't want to be lugging around a high quality system with a low quality external appearance. Not nearly as important as the other categories, but the PSP looks so cool I decided to put it in. From the sleek black look, to the clear plastic shoulder buttons, to the huge screen, this baby looks nice. Everything seems to be in the perfect place. Even the pouch that comes with the system looks cool. The whole thing looks very elegant, flashy (but not too flashy), and cool at the same time. Great job Sony.

Overall- It's got great quality, graphics, sound, features, control, looks, and good launch games. What more could you ask for? It's a very fine system, which is made even more impressive when it's a first try. Blows away the competition, end of story. Why not a 10? Nothings perfect, but this is as close as it gets. It easily a 9, if not a 9.5. All I can say is, have fun playing it, and make sure food and drink is near you when you start, or you'll get dehydrated or starve to death.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/25/05

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