- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Here are a few of the latest games for the PlayStation Portable hand-held system that require players to shoot to survive.

Every Extend Extra, from Buena Vista Games, rated E for everyone, $29.99. The definition of a puzzle shooter can be found in this slick game, which has a player control and explode a spaceship to take out enemy vessels. Through nine levels, each concluded with a boss battle, the game uses techno music and colorful visuals in a presentation that feels like being stuck in a disco ball.

Within the action, a ship must be maneuvered near the greatest number of foes and detonated. Players hope the ensuing blast engulfs the enemies and sets up a chain reaction to take out all the on-screen opponents. Eliminated enemy ships release crystals that can be collected to add points (reach certain levels to get more ships), quicken the pace of the game, bring up more enemies, and extend the time limit.

It may sound fairly simple, but the stress-inducing time limit and finite supply of ships to explode create quite a challenging scenario. It requires quick reflexes and strategy to get the most bang for a ship’s demise.

Additionally, two players can battle via the PSP’s wireless Ad Hoc connection.

Medal of Honor: Heroes, from Electronic Arts, rated T for teen, $39.99. A world war can be fought on a 4-inch-wide screen as players become part of the Allied forces charged with stopping the Nazi juggernaut. Electronic Arts has culled some of the heroes from its acclaimed Medal of Honor series and offers a harrowing adventure packed with gritty action and firefights.

With 15 new solo missions divided among three campaigns, a player returns to the front lines through the fictional characters Lt. Jimmy Patterson, Sgt. John Baker and Lt. William Holt to fight alongside a team of computer-controlled comrades as they work through Holland, Italy and France to defeat Hitler’s forces.

The robust first-person shooter adds black-and-white archival footage at the beginning of each campaign and authentic scenarios and weapons to get the player in the mood to act and react like a soldier. He can crouch behind barriers, throw grenades, reload and pick up weapons, snipe enemies, use a gun sight and set explosives.

Success along the way will unlock costumes and more characters to be used in other modes of the game, and medals are awarded for completion of primary and secondary objectives.

Most impressive, the player can battle against 16 computer-controlled opponents in a skirmish mode (even dressed as a German in long johns) or use the PSP’s wireless capabilities to challenge up to 31 other players around the world.

Gun Showdown, from Activision, rated M for mature, $39.99. Vengeful gunslinger Colton White is back to take on the meanest hombres in the Old West in a violent game that expands a bit on its entertainment-console sibling from last year.

Through a first- and third-person perspective, the player controls White as he stabs, shoots, tramples and blasts the bad guys; rides his trusted horse, Rogue; and sets out on a campaign of revenge through dusty towns and open terrain.

New to the PSP version are five extra missions (one features a bank heist) and a set of minigames that includes a quail and bear hunt and some old-fashioned Texas hold ‘em.

I found the game easier to master than its console version, and it still retains its spectacular look and impact on a small screen. However, squeamish players should be forewarned about the amount of gore and blood found in the cut scenes and hands-on action.

A multiplayer wireless mode rounds out the bloody fun with up to six players in the same room able to challenge one another in free-for-all shootouts and poker.

Write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; or send e-mail ([email protected]).

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