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PSP  header logo

Carnage Heart EXA

For: PSP   Also on: PS Vita

Heartfelt Carnage

Product: Carnage Heart EXA | Developer: Artdink | Publisher: Natsume | Format: PSP | Genre: RPG, Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: US
Carnage Heart EXA PSP, thumbnail 1
Who hasn't played a game and thought, at some point in their life, that they'd quite like to one day create and build their own slice of fun.

Titles like LittleBigPlanet let us enjoy a world of creation in which we can frolic and enjoy the simplicity of building a fun and vibrant environment to explore.

Carnage Heart EXA, just like the PSone original, doesn't look at creation in quite the same way. In fact it's rather binary. Actually, it is binary.

Keyboard commander

Set in a world where wars are fought between robots and not people, Carnage Heart EXA places you in control of a mech army.

Each unit on the battlefield is called an Overkill Engine (OKE) and needs to be commanded diligently. However, in this strategy title you don't move units like you'd expect.

Instead, you have to program in all of the moves for each unit through yes/no logic trees, factoring in to your decisions how each unit deals with a particular combat situation through the art of programming.

Unlike previous iterations, though, EXA actually lets you programme an OKE unit so you can control it yourself: an ability that is both incredibly entertaining and mind-bogglingly complicated.

Programming in the fun

You aren't dropped into the deep end too quickly, though. You spend a lot of your early hours working through the tutorials on offer, learning how to make your OKE turn, strafe, and attack with manual help.

Things then step up when you realise that different CPU, armour, and body types all have a direct effect upon how your OKE functions.

It's not too bad when you're controlling an OKE yourself, as you can time your reactions and strategy accordingly. But when you make tweaks to your various automated OKE squad it becomes a game of making tiny adjustments and continually ensuring that everything is working fine before you even manage to wade into battle.

Because of this, Carnage Heart EXA is really something for the dedicated gamer. The battles may be perfect for bite-size portable play, but you can spend hours working your way though different setups, making sure each one works before you make it into the next part of the largely throwaway conflict.

You can forgive it at times, though, as it's a rather wonderfully presented title. Crisp menus, pleasingly chunky visuals (which are perfect for a mech-battler), and a story told through anime stills combine to produce an enjoyable experience, despite the barren areas that combat takes place in.

In the end, though, it all comes right back down to how densely complicated the programming system is. Carnage Heart EXA is accessible enough in the shallow end, but only dedicated players will enjoy the deep end.
Carnage Heart EXA
Reviewer photo
Vaughn Highfield | 29 March 2013
Offering up genuinely unique gameplay, Carnage Heart EXA does what it sets out to do well. But because of that the rest of the game suffers - meaning most battles are slow and somewhat uninteresting affairs
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