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Psychonauts (PlayStation 2)

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Written by  :  phanboy_iv (122)
Written on  :  Jul 21, 2008
Platform  :  PlayStation 2
Rating  :  4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars

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Summary

A not-so great port of a great game. Still enjoyable and worth buying, though.

The Good

Tim Schafer. One of my gaming industry heroes, and the famous creator/co-creator of games like Day of The Tentacle, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango. When Psychonauts was released, discerning gamers everywhere proclaimed it a masterpiece.

Well, it is. This is a wildly imaginative, hugely varied, very entertaining romp disguised as a platformer. You play Raz, a boy with psychic powers who sneaks into a "psychic summer camp". You get merit badges throughout the game which give you special psychic powers like Telekinesis, Levitation, etc. I won't give away anymore, but the areas in the game are essentially the minds of very quirky individuals, and the developers play this concept to the hilt. I think that this is the only game I've played where every area requires a different type of gameplay. Unlike most games that introduce some core gameplay principles at the beginning and then just crank up the difficulty as you go along, Psychonaut's levels are all very unique, and very well done, despite the variety. You might be playing a wargame by recruiting and moving pieces on a giant board, or you might be rolling and floating Sonic-style inside a disco inferno. It has to be played to be believed.

There's also tons of stuff to do if you like collect-a-thons, and believe me, if you want to collect everything, you'd better have some skills and patience.

The Bad

Well, most all of the bad aspects come from the way this game was ported to the PS2. For one, framerate issues. Some people might find it less obnoxious than I do, but the framerate in the PS2 version tends to fluctuate wildly. The game is still highly playable, but really there's no excuse for this kind of thing in a professional product.

Loading times in the PS2 version are also sub-par. This is not unusual for these kinds of ports, but it's still annoying.

Also, the way the game handles save files is not PS2 optimized. You have to create a 1500KB profile save file that contains 5 save slots. The problem is, you can only use these save slots for the game you're in. If you start a new game, you have to create another massive 5-slot profile. The problem with this is that you never need more than 1 slot, as the game is mostly linear, and does autosaves anyway. Which means that if you live in a three-gamer household like me, there will have to be three massive save files on your memory card, and all each person will ever use will be 1/5 of their save slots. Given that games like Ratchet and Clank can support up to six totally separate game files in a 350KB file, this limitation is a bit silly, and feels like the the porters just used the PC-style save system with no modification.

To be fair to the original developers, an external porting house did the conversion, but this is still the least desirable version of this great game.

The Bottom Line

Psychonauts is truly a great game, and every serious gamer should definitely play it. But unfortunately, for the best experience, you should certainly go with the XBOX or PC versions.