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Day One E3 Report Two – PSP’s Year

At last year’s E3, after the big PS3 unveiling it almost seemed like Sony had forgotten their previous next big thing: the PSP. They barely mentioned it at their pre-show, and while there were a fewPSP games in their booth, few really impressed. That’s all changed this year. While the PSP still didn’t receive a lot of fanfare before the show, it was strongly featured, and now in Sony’s booththey have dozens and dozens of titles on display, some of which look properly good.   Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception is the first PSP-bound version of the well-known Ace Combat series. Thegames are fun and challenging on the PS2 and the portable version plays just as well. It’s not quite as pretty, but it does look good, and the addition of 2-4 player wireless play with some friendsmakes up for any visual shortcomings. It’s due out this fall.   Another venerable series now coming to PSP is Battlezone. This arena-combat hover-tank game pits you against up to five other tanks. Gameplay is FPS-like, with game modes likecapture-the-flag and deathmatch, but played with giant floating and strafing machines instead of guys and gals with guns. The game will support up to four players via ad-hoc mode and two AI playerscan be added to bring it up to six. Look for this one in October.   Sony’s trying to kick off another new franchise with Field Commander, a turn-based overhead strategy game. Picture a grittier, uglier, 3-D Advance Wars and you’ll know exactly what this game isabout. It’ll be released soon, but anyone with a DS or GBA would be well-advised to ignore it.   There are just too many great PSP games on the show floor to cover in detail. SNK is bringing the entire history of Metal Slug to the PSP in Anthology thisNovember; all six games on one UMD as arcade-perfect ports. Koei is resurrecting the amazingly good but largely ignored Gitaroo Man for the PSP next spring, and Sega’s working on a new Sonic gamecalled Sonic Rivals that blends the typical side-view Sonic-style gameplay with two-player racing, requiring you and an opponent to race through stages.   It’s looking like this will be a greatfall for PSP owners. No longer will Sony fans have to sit by idly playing ports of PS2 games while DS owners receive tons of fresh properties. While the DS is still the go-to platform for strategytitles, the PSP is definitely taking the lead just about everywhere else.   [Editor’s Note: Check out our photo gallery forshots from Sony’s PSP booth area as taken by this article’s author Tim Stevens.]

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