You see, Miami Vice gets most of the important things right. Graphically, it’s pretty good for a PSP title, combining slightly PS1-era character models and environments with a convincing sheen of PS2-level effects, including a nice attempt at faux-HDR lighting in a range of Miami-friendly pink and orange glows. The music and sound effects are excellent, with pumping synth-heavy beats cutting in when the action heats up, and some reasonably meaty gunfire sounds. You get some variety in the levels, with health packs and drug caches to discover, and a range of secondary objectives to complete, and there are even enough sensibly placed checkpoints in each mission to keep you from having to play vast chunks over should your Crockett come a-cropper or your Tubbs be stubbed out. In fact, it gets better the more it goes on, as the first, slightly uninspired mansion and airport levels give way to glossy hotels and cool, off-shore drug-business complexes, the blue ocean rippling underneath.
However, like so many things these days Miami Vice suffers from a lack of quality villains. The dealers and hoods that patrol the levels are gifted shots, but painfully stupid. Those that aren’t virtually rooted to the spot are seemingly obsessed with a ‘grass is greener’ approach to cover, meaning they can’t resist the urge to leave safety for a new bolt-hole halfway across the room. At some points, it’s possibly to confuse them by getting too close, at which point they run around like headless chickens, while at other times they’re ruthlessly lethal, and have you gunned down before you can even reach for the aim switch.
To be fair, there are signs that these chaps have either been sampling their own goods, or that their intellects were diminished to begin with. Each seems to have a vocabulary of roughly two phrases, neither of which is suitable for publication. It’s a bit like being verbally assaulted by a Hispanic Gordon Ramsey with Alzheimer’s, who simply can’t remember that he’s already called you Gendarme Scum five times already. You actually want to shoot them just to shut them up – now let’s see who ‘shoots like a bitch.’
In short, the AI might be effing, but it certainly isn’t blinding. Luckily, the game is just about smart enough in its placement of villains to keep things hanging together in an entertaining fashion. What’s more, the game has made attempts to add a bit more depth than your regular shooter. Levels are linked together by a city-wide map, where you can visit police HQ, chat to the local snitch, make your way to your tailor or arms dealer, and sell the evidence you’ve seized out on the street. Yep, in a move that Miami PD (well, probably) approve for real, drugs can either be exchanged for information, or sold on the street for hard cash. Hard cash buys new suits and bigger guns, and you can even buy from one dealer and trade with another to make a profit, if you have the entrepreneurial edge required.