Cash Money Chaos - impressions

Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) is best known for its online and offline role-playing games, so it's surprising that the company will release an all-out action title. Cash Money Chaos takes one part Smash TV and one part The Running Man, shakes, stirs and serves the concoction on ice for your PSP. The game is all about balls-to-the-wall action and in-your-face humor - a decided departure from the company that brought you the rat-killing fest EverQuest. While this is a new direction for SOE, it has the potential for success.

As previously mentioned, the game's action is very reminiscent of the arcade classic Smash TV. Your character is trapped in a room with enemies coming in every direction. The d-pad is used to control movement, while the face buttons are used to fire, allowing you to move and shoot in independent directions. Naturally, there are a large number of weapons and power-ups. The arsenal includes blasters, shotguns, rocket launchers, flamethrowers and grenade launchers. Your goal is to wreak enough havoc and collect enough cash (see how clever the title is?) to reach the next round.

The story has aliens capturing the main character and placing him in a '70s-style game-show. The aliens are obsessed with '70s culture and punk rock, which is reflected in the game's environments. Stage themes include a ghost town, a Japanese garden, a circus, a pirate setting, a military base and a swamp. Ten "seasons" containing five missions each are slated for the game, which translated to 50 missions in gamer lingo.

Accompanying the over-the-top violence is some haughty commentary by the alien hosting the show. The goal is to deliver side-splitting one-liners that are sure to make this game rated Mature. Hopefully, the script writers will lace the humor with a modicum of wit.

Although the game is powered by the same engine as SOE's Untold Legends, don't expect the same detail in character models and backgrounds. Visual quality was sacrificed to allow the maximum amount of characters on screen and to maintain a fast frame rate. It makes sense for this style of game and there's plenty of time for the developers to sharpen up the graphics, but it will be interesting to see if the tradeoff is worth it.