PlayStation Network Collection: Power Pack PSP
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Release Date: Out Now
The three main home consoles each have their own online stores that you can purchase downloadable games from. Sony's differs a little from its rivals because it allows you to purchase games that can be played not only on the PS3 but also on its handheld system, the PSP. As difficult as it might be, not everyone has access to these online stores however and it's good to see the introduction of the PlayStation Network Collection packs that include a small collection of games on just one UMD. First up is the PlayStation Network Collection: Power Pack which includes: Syphon Filter: Combat Ops, flOw and Beats for £14.99.
Syphon Filter: Combat Ops (£6.99 from the PlayStation Store) is a multiplayer only stealth-based third-person action title that's pretty much in the mould of Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow. I'm not entirely sure you should include a multiplayer only title in a compilation such as this, as the value it brings to the overall package is questionable. Your experience with the game will depend entirely on the people you play against. Thankfully the game allows you to play using either Infrastructure or Ad Hoc mode. We found that it wasn't always possible to get into a game (as you can't join a game that's already started) but there are a good amount of people playing the game using the Infrastructure mode. The game supports text communications which is good to see. It's worth noting that Combat Ops has a very effective control scheme (one of the best I've seen for a third-person action game on the PSP) and a mission editor. As a PSP online title it's pretty impressive.
Beats (£4.99 from the PlayStation Store) is a rhythm based game that in all honesty isn't going to be of much interest to deaf gamers. The game comes with two modes: Challenge and Jamming. In Challenge mode icons of the four main buttons (the X, circle, triangle and square button) move from the edge of the screen toward the centre. The idea is to press the appropriate button as the icon passes over the target. Targets can be situated in the centre of the screen and to the left and right of the central target. When the icons pass over the targets that are situated to the left and right of the central target you'll have to also hold down the appropriate left or right directional button too. Jamming allows you to construct your own tunes by adding different instrumental loops and it's of no use at all for deaf gamers. All tutorial information is in text but the game has little value for deaf gamers due to its very nature.
flOw (£4.99 from the PlayStation Store) is arguable the best game in the PSN Collection: Power Pack. The game is pretty much identical to the one that arrived when the PlayStation 3 launched early last year. Of course the PS3 version used the motion sensing abilities of the Sixaxis controller but this PSP version has to make do with rather more traditional controls. Aside from this alteration and slightly smaller levels, it's pretty much the same hypnotic experience that PS3 and PC gamers have enjoyed for a while. You control a water-based life form that swims around eating other life forms to replenish health and to evolve and gain abilities in the process. There are several different life forms to play as in the game. The whole thing is quite relaxing and it's no surprise it's been a popular game for both PS3 and PC gamers.
The PlayStation Network Collection: Power Pack is a decent compilation on the whole but it's value for deaf gamers is questionable as there are only two out of the three games that are suitable and one of those is multiplayer only. Long load times are a problem for both Syphon Filter: Combat Ops and Beats but aside from this there's little to complain about in regards to the compilations presentation. If you haven't played flOw before and enjoy playing online then the Power Pack might just be your thing. Purchasing each of the three games from the PlayStation Store would cost you just under £17 so there's a saving to made by purchasing the games in this way provided you wanted all three games of course.