Just about the time that you stopped being able to distinguish one World War II shooter from another, the seminal Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 came along and single-handedly jolted the genre back to glorious life. Featuring - gasp! - actual military tactics, it (along with follow-up Earned in Blood) offered an exhilarating (if often painfully difficult) experience while placing itself shoulder-to-shoulder with the more established Call of Duty and Medal of Honor franchises.
A tribute of sorts, Brothers in Arms: D-Day is a veritable "greatest hits" of fourteen missions pulled from both offerings, distilled into smaller form - literally and figuratively - for the PSP. Series heroes Baker and Hartsock reprise their starring roles, as do rest of the cast of rough-and-tumble paratroopers. Vets of the franchise will immediately recognize the levels, characters, dialogue, and tactics for victory. Many BIA hallmarks make their way into its handheld iteration, including the find-fix-flank-finish mantra that is the only way to secure victory.
That is, find your enemies, order your squadmates to pin them down with covering fire, sneak around to their flank while they're distracted and pump them full of lead before they realize what's happening. It's a remarkably effective tactic, but God forbid you flunked flank at the Academy, because stepping out into the open without your squadmates (human, tank, or otherwise) suppressing enemies is a recipe for instant, bloody death.
Sadly, like a perfectly placed grenade toss that turns out to be a dud, the PSP control scheme handicaps you from the start. Developer Gearbox did what they could - a strafing feature at least gives you some flexibility to target an enemy while moving - but without a second analog stick, you'll struggle to win the war, or even feel comfortable trying. An awkward movement and aiming system will frustrate at key moments where placement and cover are your only methods for survival. At least some of your German foes are pretty willing to be sitting ducks while you pick them off - a drastic departure from the game's console cousins.
Not that the trademark smart, reactive enemies are gone, mind you. German soldiers will read your movements and attempt to outmaneuver you, depending on which tactics you and your squad employ. The situational awareness map is also here, an incredibly valuable "freeze the battlefield" screen that'll let you take stock of where any spotted Nazis are while plotting your attack route. Realistic? No. Desperately needed? Hell yes.
Don't expect any health packs or power ups of any kind, though. The only way to complete a mission is to make it through alive from start to finish (although those poor bastards under your command don't need to be so lucky). This becomes pretty dicey in several of the later levels, not only because of the crafty Wehrmacht, but also due to the choppiness and slowdown that accompanies too much action on the small screen.
Ultimately, D-Day is a valiant attempt to bring the series to Sony's handheld, but falls a bit short of greatness. It lacks the emotional and technical "oomph" of its big-screen relatives, highlighted by the notoriously futzy control scheme that'll have you pulling out your hair. With that said, it's still one of the best shooters on the PSP, packing a serious challenge in an impressively sized campaign (not to mention some ad-hoc multiplayer) that'll keep you busy for awhile. And remember, soldier - no matter how impossible it seems, there's always a flank to be found.