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The Ten Best-Looking PSP Games

We’ve recently been playing God Of War: Ghost Of Sparta, and although we can’t divulge our overall opinion on the game (you’ll have to wait for the magazine for that, out 25 Nov) we will say one thing. That game looks good. Like really good – for a PSP title at least. The lighting is astonishing, the textures smooth, Kratos’s animations fast and fluid. There’s a real sense of depth to the environments, which nicely balance realism with cartoon vibrancy. In short, it’s very pretty. Ready At Dawn has once again done itself proud.

When the PSP was first announced we were promised a handheld console with the graphical prowess of the PS2, and in recent years we’ve truly seen this promise come to fruition. The PSP is easily the most visually adept handheld of all time, so join us as we take a look at ten other graphically excellent titles that can proudly sit alongside Ghost Of Sparta as the best the handheld has to offer.

10. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

Previously this would have gone to Silent Hill: Origins, but Silent Hill: Shattered Memories just about surpasses it. Yes, objects are little blocky and the aliasing is absolutely terrible, but the grim, lonely, cold look of the eponymous town is absolutely spot on, and the shadows cast by Harry Mason’s torch are incredible. We’d even dare to suggest that we prefer the look of this Silent Hill to the series’ most recent PS3 incarnation.

9. MotorStorm: Arctic Edge
When the PS3 first came out the original MotorStorm blew our minds – Monument Valley delivered in beautiful, sun-bleached detail. We doubted that BigBig could ever get that same sense of scale and carnage to squeeze onto the PSP, but it managed in fine style. All the series’ speed and satisfying traction are retained, along with the varied roster of race vehicles, without sacrificing the Arctic’s broad vistas. It must have helped that the game is mostly white, though.

8. Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny
It seems good graphics follow Kratos wherever he goes. Broken Destiny is an excellent transition of next-gen beat-‘em-up gameplay onto the limited hardware of the PSP. Fights are fast, fluid, and beautiful to watch, every weapon swipe traced by an arc of luminous colour. The PSP brilliantly handles Broken Destiny’s textures and character models without faltering too much in terms of framerate, meaning the gameplay remains intact too.

7. Jeanne D’Arc
This 2006 title from Professor Layton developer Level-5 features some of the most lovingly crafted tactical RPG environments we’ve ever seen. The wonderfully hand-drawn cut scenes are beautiful and imaginative enough on their own, but Level-5 transposes them wonderfully into the gameplay, rendering its characters and world with the same attention to detail. Colourful and vibrant, Jeanne D’Arc is an incredibly pretty game to watch in motion.

6. Tekken 6
HDR lighting, incredibly detailed character models, backgrounds with a tangible sense of depth – even Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny can’t compete with the sheer artistry that went into Tekken 6. Namco Bandai squeezed a great deal out of the PSP’s architecture, making for a game that’s as nice to look at as it is fun to play.

5. Gran Turismo
We’re not going to lie here. Gran Turismo on PSP is rather dry. It lacks the involving depth of its technologically superior brethren, thanks to the omission of a proper career mode and no real sense of progression. Technically, however, it’s a marvel. The framerate is flawless, the contours of the car renders sleek and beautiful, the tracks a joy to race on. It may not be the most involving racer on PSP, but it’s undoubtedly the best looking.

4. LittleBigPlanet
One of the things we loved most about LittleBigPlanet was the realistic renderings of its building blocks – the textures of each imbuing our patchwork creations with a charming sense of authenticity. Amazingly SCE Cambridge and Media Molecule brought this same tactile believability to the PSP, making each user-generated level look as if it’s been put together in someone’s back garden.

3. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
A stunning game by all accounts. Some of the environments could occasionally feel a little bland, and the colour palette would often smear itself too heavily in one colour, but the game made up for it often by bursting into spectacular colour. Enemy design is as imaginative as ever, and when in the heat of combat Square Enix really got to show off how much it could squeeze from the PSP with great camera work and explosive effects. It’s set to be bettered by next year’s release of FF Agito XIII, though.

2. God Of War: Chains Of Olympus
Even two years after its release Chains Of Olympus still holds a high spot in this list. Visually it’s now been superseded by it successor Ghost Of Sparta, but as we’ve already espoused that game’s virtues earlier in this piece we thought we’d let Chains Of Olympus enjoy this high point one last time. It still looks far better than the majority of PSP games out there – very few developers have as impressive an understanding of the PSP architecture as Ready At Dawn.

1. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Say what you like about the Monster Hunter-aping gameplay, Hideo Kojima’s latest looks simply amazing. You could criticise the military-fetishist aesthetic as bland, but we don’t find much bland about twenty foot bipedal tanks ourselves. Yes, there’s a lot of brown and grey in the game, but it’s used creatively and in some cases, even beautifully. The animated comic book cut scenes by Ashley Wood are fantastic too; all bold, dynamic brush strokes that impart the narrative with style.

Honourable mentions:
Burnout: Dominator, Resistance: Retribution, GTA titles, Dissidia: Final Fantasy, WipEout Pulse, Monster Hunter

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  • Jack

    I’m very annoyed at Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep not being on this list. It’s like my only reason to own a PSP. That and Daxter (which also isn’t on this list) and Crisis Core: FFVII. I can’t believe KH didn’t even make the honourable mentions list.
    I understand everyone has different tastes and all but that game was amazing…

  • TC

    The comic book style cutscenes in Peace Walker were done by Ashley Wood not Yoji Shinkawa.

  • Chris McMahon

    @TC You are, of course, absolutely correct. Updated accordingly. Cheers.

  • mini

    I bought silent hill shattered memories just for the dynamic lighting and atmosphere!
    I must admit that motorstorm looked great.
    On game you mist out was Tomb Raider Anniversary, if you have that game you should have a shot of it because on the very first level when you are outside, the snowy mountains look like something you would expect to see on a ps3 game! I not joking, it really looked that good.
    Please reply play, i buy your mag every month since issue 08 and you were the people who made me buy resi 1.
    thank play