It’s silly, but it’s also kind of fun, particularly when you realise that using the right guns and wearing the right suit is crucial to developing a reputation. At the end of every mission you get a rep bonus, based not just on tiresome details like accuracy and body count, but on the suit you’re wearing and whether you stuck with the timeless class of pistol and shotgun, or opted for a wussy sniper rifle or the SMG. And you need reputation, because without it you can’t visit the high-rolling drug barons, and interest them in your wares. Doing so involves interactive scenes much like the Jack Bauer interrogation’s in 24: The Game, with an onscreen gauge that shows how effective your bargaining is, plus diplomatic and aggressive gambits that can be used to bolster your position.
The game even throws in a weird arcade mini-game, where you ‘hack’ your way into memory cards in order to discover new drug barons or unlock weapons upgrades. It plays a lot like the superb indie shoot-em-up Every Extend, and makes a nice change of pace from the usual gunplay.
All of this is interesting, but as added depth goes, it’s pretty superficial. Luckily, the core duck-and-cover blasting is pretty engaging in and of itself. And if Miami Vice is fun solo, then it’s an even better fit for wireless two-player action. As missions can be played in cooperative mode, there’s ample opportunity for show-off heroics, Crockett vaulting a counter to get closer to the action, while Tubbs lays down covering fire from behind. In the end, isn’t that what Miami Vice should be about?
Let’s make no bones about it: on the PS2 this would be an average or just above average game – a respectable movie license with a few smart ideas, but not the rich gameplay required to make it to the big league. On the PSP, however, it almost feels like a revelation. Like Daxter, you come away feeling amazed that you’re playing a PSP action game, and actually having a good time. Miami Vice isn’t as good as Ready At Dawn’s portable platforming barnstormer, but it’s a fun little thriller that will happily soak up some time while you soak up some rays. And you don’t need to throw your socks away to enjoy it…
Poor AI and linear level design stop this being a top-flight action game, but it’s still one of the better examples on PSP, for the simple fact that all the fundamentals actually work.