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Chili Con Carnage

For: PSP

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Product: Chili Con Carnage | Developer: Deadline Games | Publisher: Eidos plc | Format: PSP | Genre: Action, Shooter | Players: 1-4 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), on one device | Version: Europe
Chili Con Carnage PSP, thumbnail 1
The thing about avenging your father's death, as with most things in life, is that it's never quite as straightforward as you imagine. If it were, then your typical revenge film would last but a few minutes – find the guy responsible, throw him in an industrial shredder – rather than the two hours they tend to run at.

In the case of Chili Con Carnage, you should expect your vengeance to take you a few hours more than that. It'll be sweeter, too, and funnier than 'avenge dad' might look on paper.

As Ram, a hot blooded latino who's just had the trauma-inducing (if not entirely humourless) experience of watching his papa's demise at the blades of a combine harvester, you set off on a killing spree that bounces you from one crime lord to the next in search for the one ultimately responsible.

'Bouncing' is apt terminology, because it's one thing you'll be doing a lot of. As an action shooter, you expect – and get – to use the typical artillery associated with such a game. So automatic rifles, shotguns, rocket launchers, grenades, Molotovs and more are soon at your disposal, along with a healthy selection of bandidos to gun down.

But it's the hyperactive way you do your gunning down that gives Chili Con Carnage its distinct flavour.

As such, expect to be diving forwards, backwards, sideways, cartwheeling off walls and generally behaving like a pinball within the game's solidly constructed environments, while shooting as many bad men as you can.

Every time you leap into acrobatics mode, time extends in typical Hollywood slo-mo manner, enabling you to take down several opponents at once. In later missions this becomes more than a gimmick, and is actually fundamental in dealing with the many enemies you'll regularly face.

Besides, you get style points for doing such slo-mo antics, and, at least initially, it's refreshing and rewarding stuff.

Apart from providing some catharsis in relation to your father's untimely fluid-retaining coffin burial, killing murderous men also keeps your combo-chain metre running, which again means more points. And points, as everyone knows, mean prizes – in Chili Con Carnage's case multiplayer goodies such as arenas and characters.

To add a little variety to the familiar weapons at your disposal, you can also pick up Loco Moves, which range from a 360-degree bullet spray guaranteed to mow down anyone silly enough to be around you, to unleashing a very angry, very big gimp-suited individual on the opposition, to turning you into a raging bull (figuratively speaking), able to charge down anyone in your path.

There are more, too, but part of the fun is in discovering the Loco Moves as you go along. You carry only one at any one time, but along with the increased number of baddies in later stages they're soon turning up with pleasing regularity, meaning you shouldn't be shy in using them.

By far the most important pick up though is a little icon that enables you to rewind the action a few seconds should your enemies' bullets deplete your life gauge. It's not a new idea, but it's surprising how few games consider using it.

Sure, a rewind function makes things relatively easy, particularly for experienced gamers, but it also removes some potentially frustrating situations that might have otherwise affected the mark at the end of this review. In particular, on certain boss encounters the difficulty curve can spike, meaning that if you have amassed enough 'rewind' icons you can at least get a few attempts in before having to restart. By then you shouldn't feel so aggrieved at having to do it again, either.

Sadly though, rewinding time won't make the platform sections in Chili Con Carnage any less annoying. Thankfully they're not numerous, but sequences involving climbing and jumping around crates (an early mission has you escaping the cargo area of a sinking ship) are weak in comparison to the solidity of the shooting segments, not least because your movement feels clumsy due to the control system, combined with the inaccuracy of the PSP's analogue nub.

No such complaints when shooting, as mentioned, with only perhaps the lack of a strafe option being noticeable (although, thankfully, the camera tends to behave itself). Aiming, wisely, has been kept automatic, although it's possible to actively target explosive objects in order to quickly educate the fools seemingly intent on always standing too close to petrol drums or ammunition crates.

That example perhaps best encapsulates Chili Con Carnage's over-the-top cartoon style, and Latino hip-hop soundtracked, fiery attitude. There's nothing here you won't have seen before – you get to fight pistoleros, helicopters, cars with mounted gun turrets, a jet plane and men dressed as chicken, to name a few, although the game's mechanic remains the same throughout – but, like Pursuit Force, the appeal stems from the game's strong identity, which blasts a hole for itself within a genre that, on PSP, isn't exactly overflowing with quality examples.

With 19 short-ish missions over seven locations, Chili Con Carnage won't last forever – and you wouldn't want it to – but if nothing else, it proves that avenging your father's death can be a laugh a minute affair.
Chili Con Carnage
Reviewer photo
Joao Diniz Sanches | 23 February 2007
Like biting into a jalapeno, this is fresh, frantic and explosive fun while it lasts
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