If there is one title that proves the PSP can do lasting, engaging, graphically accomplished games, this is it.
It has been frustrating in the past when an eagerly awaited port turns out to be a heavily diluted affair, missing key features, simply because the developer assumes a handheld gamer is only looking for quick-fire action (Gran Turismo, anyone?) Either that, or they're just lazy. I am delighted to report that there has been no such skimping here.
Vice City Stories is a full game in every sense. Yes, it uses the same beautiful surrounds of the PS2 original, but the storyline, missions and even the radio output are all completely unique to the PSP.
There is every type of vehicle at your disposal, including motorbikes, boats and helicopters and every one handles in a way that really satisfies. You can swim. The weapons are as varied as ever and there's even the opportunity to sport some new threads.
The graphics and draw distance are spot-on and loading times are kept to an absolute minimum. The cut-scenes and writing are of an equally high standard to any game in the series and still manage to convey the same drama and humour the games are famous for on bigger screens.
If anyone is going to take issue with anything, then it is likely to be the on-foot controls. The much maligned single analogue stick on the PSP makes for a more clunky experience when compared to the console versions. But Rockstar definitely knew this, and have introduced the best possible lock-on system to assist you in the heat of battle. There are still some errors when targeting, and GTA IV's cover system unfortunately does not feature, but given the gentle way into which you are initially guided along, only the most ham-fisted will fail to master the controls and make the best of each situation.
That really is about it for the negatives. All the exploration, the hours you can invest in the campaign and the side missions, or otherwise the enormous amount of just messing about, is all present and correct and it looks great.
This is a great advert for the PSP and every owner should be taking a look. Here's hoping that San Andreas gets the same treatment.