Half-assed handheld ports of console games are nothing new, but with the advent of the powerful PSP, we kind of thought those days were coming to an end. No such luck, if the PSP version of From Russia With Love is anything to go by. In adapting the console game of the same name, it cuts out the driving, many of the gameplay nuances and nearly half the levels, leaving us with a passable, short James Bond shooter that we're still expected to pay $40 for.
If all you're looking for is a third-person run-and-gun game that lets you blast your way through goon squads, though, From Russia With Love isn't a bad choice. As Bond (played here by Sir Sean Connery), you'll spend most of the game running around on foot, gunning down the faceless hordes of the OCTOPUS terror syndicate. The action is fast and entertaining, and the game keeps things interesting by occasionally confronting you with armored enemies (you'll have to find their weak spots), forcing you to puzzle your way around locked doors or enabling you to grab a sniper rifle and cover a comrade from a distance. At certain points, you'll also be able to pilot a jetpack or the remote-controlled Q-copter (good for slipping through air vents to blow up locks on the other side), although these segments are fairly rare.
Rarer still are the points where you'll actually get to use Bond's other gadgets - his laser watch is really only good for blowing up things behind bullet-proof glass, which don't pop up very often, and his serum darts (which briefly stun enemies) are all but useless. Bond's grappling hook is still here, although rappelling up and down walls - which was done manually in the console version - is now automatic.
Above: Bond focus in action. Note little yellow targeting cursor and suggested target spots
If there's a good reason to pick up the PSP version, it's the multiplayer modes. Using the PSP's built-in WiFi, you can take on five friends (or five AI opponents) in four different deathmatch modes - two on foot, two in jetpacks. The options are a little sparse (only two maps for jetpack dogfights?), but the action is fun, even if you can't use the close-up judo moves from the single-player game.
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