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Miami Vice hands-on

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When we booted up our preview copy of Miami Vice, we expected it to be another run-of-the-mill third-person shooter based on a big summer movie. What we didn't expect was a game that plays so much like Resident Evil 4 that we half-expected some chainsaw-wielding lunatic to leap out and decapitate us.

Miami Vice - due July 18 - emulates RE4's trademark behind-the-shoulder view and zoom-in-to-aim mechanic almost perfectly. But where RE4 was a fairly deep action-adventure, Miami Vice is a straightforward shoot 'em-up, with vice detectives Crockett and/or Tubbs gunning down punks and collecting evidence in linear levels.

Even so, Miami Vice is still shaping up to be one of the PSP's better shooters, and here's why: cover. You can flatten yourself against it, pop out briefly to shoot from behind it, knock over objects to create it and blow it to pieces in interesting ways. It turns what might otherwise be brainless run-and-gun into something more strategic.

Also, while the levels are pretty straightforward, planning still helps you get through them. Between missions, you can deal with an informant - he takes the evidence (drugs you collect as payment) - and you learn exactly where enemies, drug caches and bonus objectives are located. You can also sneak around while you're "investigating" each area, allowing you to get the drop - however fleeting - on drug-cartel goons as they watch movies, sit around or pace aimlessly from one point to another.

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