When I fired up Ridge Racers for the first time, I let it run through the introduction movie, and I was amazed at the graphics before me. But when I actually launched a game, I realised that Sony had achieved something very special with the PSP – it had managed to place a PlayStation 2 in the palms of my hands. The graphics on Ridge Racers are fantastic and just wipe the floor with any other hand-held game I’ve seen. There’s also an incredible feeling of speed when you’re driving and some nice motion blur effects thrown in for good measure. Considering that Ridge Racers is a first generation title, it’s fair to say that the PSP games are just going to get better and better.
The graphics shouldn’t get all the credit though, because the sound is equally impressive. The integrated stereo speakers do their best to create an immersive sound stage, but you really need to plug in some headphones to get the true aural effect. The Value Pack also comes with a set of official Sony PSP headphones, complete with inline remote control, so that base is well covered.
Most importantly though, unlike the PS2, the PSP is launching with a strong line up of games – Ridge Racers, FIFA, WipeOut and Tiger Woods Golf are all grade A titles, while Virtua Tennis is, quite simply, staggeringly good (there’ll be a full review of VT up in the next few days).
Although playing any of the above games by yourself is an amazing experience, it’s when you find another PSP warrior and link up via WiFi that things get really good. While I was flying to Taiwan in June I ended up playing FIFA Football with a total stranger a few rows in front of me – it was superb and beating a real person made a nice change from thrashing the computer. Likewise, while flying to San Francisco for IDF, I linked up with Wil from Bit-Tech for some WipeOut action and got my butt kicked – it was only the second time I’d played it though; that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.