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PSP  header logo

Miami Vice The Game

For: PSP

The film's not out until August 4th. But should you buy the game now, or never?

Product: Miami Vice The Game | Developer: Rebellion | Publisher: Sierra Entertainment | Format: PSP | Genre: Action, Film/ TV tie- in, Shooter | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe
Miami Vice The Game PSP, thumbnail 1
I've not seen the Miami Vice movie, so have little idea how the amount of action in the PSP version compares to its big screen brother. But assuming it's similar – as these game-of-the-film-type-affairs often are – then here's a bonus motion picture review too:

Just as you're getting into everything, the credits roll. Game over. It's possibly the least satisfying ending to anything ever. And that includes the end of Lost series two (it was all a dream).

Which is a shame. Because Miami ViceThe Game, at least – hits its stride almost at the same point as its conclusion. The fundamentals have been mastered, the rules understood. Everything is making sense, and it's all becoming pretty enjoyable. And then: thanks for playing! Try the levels again, though this time wearing different clothes. As if dressing up virtual avatars has ever been suitable reward.

Miami Vice The Game is set immediately before the forthcoming film, which, in turn, is based upon the '80s TV series of the same name. Each iteration is set in America's sun-drenched 'magic city' and features detectives Crocket and Tubbs, two good-looking but clichéd cops who, obviously, don't play by the rules.

The game's plot involves the two detectives busting a drug ring. You pick which character to play at the start of the game, but little changes apart from the skin colour and clothing. Played entirely in third-person, it's an unashamed action game, where mindless shoot-out follows mindless shoot-out. Inch forward and repeat. Brain Training this isn't – though with gore turned on, there's quite a lot of the body's most complex organ on display.

Miami Vice is all sunsets and fast cars, designer suits and men without socks, and the locales are faithfully represented here in what, visually at least, is a technical achievement on the PSP.

Controls are fiddly, but soon mastered. The frustrations mainly come from the PSP's inadequacies – the analogue nub is often unable to accommodate the desires of the player. Given that Miami Vice The Game is a PSP exclusive, you would have thought that developer Rebellion would have designed a game that worked around the hardware's shortcomings.

As it is, it sometimes moves from action to comedy. One can't imagine Colin Farrell or Jamie Fox – the film's stars – appearing in sequences in which they accidentally sit down in front of whoever's shooting, or hide from adversaries by standing directly in front of them.

But, you know, as frustrating as it can be, you do get the hang of it. The opening levels are relatively easy, and dispatching numerous enemies with clinical headshots quickly becomes second nature. The level designs are initially fairly rudimentary, but soon they become tremendous fun. You learn not to shoot from afar – because even if you hit someone a million times, it leaves nothing but a graze, despite them cursing you each time – and edge closer to your prey, ducking from cover to cover. It's all pretty exciting.

And then it's all pretty over.

It must be a restriction of the licence, because you can see how Rebellion has tried to extend play. There's a drug-trading mini-game (it plays similarly to freeware title Dope Wars), and a strange hacking section that can be played to unlock more stuff. The water-based levels – in which you battle against opposing speedboats – provide a change of pace, though what they make up for in speed, they lose in challenge. Enjoyable as they are, they're virtually impossible to fail.

Then, there's the bribing, and there's the 'respect' bonuses, plus there's the co-op multiplayer stuff – it's clear as much as possible has been shoehorned into a pretty weak main structure. Which is admirable and all that, but ultimately pointless. Because the main course is so terribly short. If you're a competent games player, it'll be over within four hours on the normal difficulty level.

So, overall, a pretty mixed bag. The last levels are a real blast, and the final cut-scene a genuine thrill. You're ready for more action at the very moment the game decides there is no more.

A night's rental rather than a life's purchase. The development team has proved its competence but it's not given the screen time to shine. The fact the game is set "immediately before" the events in the movie is no excuse. They should have started it all a little bit earlier.
Miami Vice The Game
Reviewer photo
Simon Byron | 24 July 2006
Like crack cocaine: provides a quick high which doesn't last long. Don't do it, kids.
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