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Platform

PSP

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Eidos

 

Developer

Deadline Games

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

February 27, 2007

 

 

- Lots of death and explosions

- Combo based gameplay give incentive to kill enemies with style

 

 

- Usual PSP control issues

- Occasionally confusing level design

 

 

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Chili Con Carnage

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

Chili Con Carnage is a kinda-sorta sequel to the 2005 PS2/Xbox game Total Overdose, which I don't think did very well at retail. Upon seeing the game in action, one might be tempted to call the game "Max Payne with a sense of humor", but that would be a disgrace to Max Payne, which managed to be simultaneously hilarious and heart wrenching in a way few games are. Rather, Chili Con Carnage focuses on goofy, arcadey action, and manages to do a decent job of it.

 

chili con carnage          chili con carnage

 

The idea is "shoot, shoot, and shoot some more", most of which is done by leaping side to side and taking down enemies in slow motion. Unlike Total Overdose, which featured a GTA style open world, Chili Con Carnage is broken down into set levels, which makes a bit more sense given the type of game that it is. And whereas Max Payne paid tribute to noir detective stories, Chili Con Carnage is like a Robert Rodriguez flick if it were a Warner Bros cartoon. It's never actually very funny, unless you find men in chicken suits and large sombreros to be extremely amusing, but it's never offensively bad, and the fact 

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that it doesn't take itself too seriously is commendable after way too many self serious action titles.

 

But, like many 3D games on the PSP, the biggest problem is the PSP itself. Ram, the main character, has a running animation that seems to purposely confound the PSP's LCD screen, so you'd best get used to the ghosting. With only the single analog nub, you 

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can move forward and backward with ease, but turning feels sluggish. Forget even controlling the camera.  Also, you may as well forget about precision aiming. There's some kind of vague targeting system; hold L to target objects like exploding barrels and hold R to lock on to enemies' heads, which is mostly in place to score dead-on kills by timing your hits right. But generally, if you shoot in the vague direction of an enemy, you'll probably hit it.

 

chili con carnage          chili con carnage

 

It feels sloppy, but Chili Con Carnage's fun is mostly derived from getting high scores and ranking high combo counts. Killing enemies with style -- blowing them away during a shootdodge, killing them while flipping off walls, taking out scores of baddies with exploding barrels -- will give you more points, and every enemy you kill within a certain amount of time will increase the multiplier. There are cool tricks you can use to your advantage, like juggling innocent chickens to keep the combo meter up, or stealing fallen enemies' hats to add the bonus. In addition to the main story mode, there's an arcade mode that concentrates solely on scoring, and it's here where Chili Con Carnage survives beyond the first time playthrough. Medals are awarded for gaining high scores, which in turns unlocks extra modes, giving more incentive to score well other than self satisfaction.

 

The story mode itself must be conquered before unlocking any of the extras. Some of the level design is a bit dull or confusing, running you in circles or making you search for minutes just to find the right ledge to climb up. Their momentary hiccups in an otherwise well paced game. The boss battles fall victim to the wonky design, with many having obscure invincibility windows or attacks that are hard to time. Mostly, just shooting and dodging will get the job done. Generally, the game isn't too difficult. Rather than include lives, there's a Prince of Persia: Sands of Time-style mechanics that lets you rewind the game several seconds before your fatal mistake, giving you a bit of extra health and the opportunity to approach things smarter.

 

Chili Con Carnage occasionally feels like a mess of a game, largely due to the controls, but it's a darned fun mess of a game, and anyone into arcade-style blastathons will find a lot to like.

 

- Kurt Kalata

(April 10, 2007)

 

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