Would you rather play a really fun game that lasted an hour, or a tedious boring title that goes for ten hours? Well, most people would rather play the title that lasts for one hour, but how about if they had paid $80 for it? And thus, this is precisely where the dilemma lies within Fired Up, Sony's latest attempt at vehicular combat for the PSP.
It seems fitting to start by addressing the first sore point of the game, which is undoubtedly: how on earth did developer SCEE manage to actually come up with the storyline for this? Set in a 'European' nation that's just been invaded by a superpower known merely as 'The Republic' (led by an 'Iron Lady'), the narrative is conveyed through text and static images at the beginning of a new mission. It's unlikely anyone will actually be able to keep up with the storyline, and nor is it really worth doing so anyway.
The main mode is fairly straightforwards; players choose a location (with two available initially) and are then unceremoniously dumped in the middle of a massive battleground. Triggering a mission is as simple as driving through a large green light (similar to that of the driving checkpoints in Midnight Club III). The missions vary from eliminations, to picking up a range of parcels scattered over the battleground. Overall though, most of the missions guarantee there will be a huge amount of vehicular combat.
Each battleground features pickups, such as weapons (and there is a wide range of them including rockets, missiles and grenades). By shooting lorries in the battleground, players trigger a 'Fired Up' mission, the objective being to destroy a set number of enemies in a very short amount of time, which varies from thirty seconds to about two minutes.
The highlight of the game is definitely the multiplayer though. Granted, two players will require a copy of the game, but there's an absolute wealth of multiplayer modes, such as Deathmatch and King of the Hill. Whilst the experience is rather shallow, it's definitely the highlight of the game. Gameplay-wise, the game is fairly addictive. It isn't a deep title that is going to have you cryptically working out where to go or what to do, and the missions, which can take up to fifteen minutes each and are just short enough to subside your hunger for destruction, are fairly straightforward.
The game is very easy to pick up and play and the controls are fairly simple (much like the rest of the game). Most players will want to use the directional pad for controlling the vehicles, as the analog nub isn't easy to control with. The cars themselves have some bizarre physics, and when becoming airborne they will kind of 'float' in the air, which takes away from the realism of the game significantly.
There is barely any loading in the game, the environments don't take too long to fully load and there's no loading until a new mission is triggered. There is a noticable level of slowdown at certain points during the game however, such as when the action becomes intense.
Graphically the game is fairly decent. The environments themselves are huge, but the detail in the environments is a little lacking. There's the usual ramps, jumps and buidings to avoid (or aim for, depending on your preference) but aside from that there's a siginificant lack of life in the title. Whilst there are a few different environments, they all end up feeling the same as there isn't too much variation between many of them, and they feel (and look) very similar to each other.
Sound-wise, the game provides all the sounds of sweet anarchy, including rocket launchers and grenades, and well, the weapons sound pretty bloody good. However, none of the other effects really stand out, and it's all rather quickly forgotten about.
As we mentioned in the introduction, the single player game of Fired Up is fairly short, and shouldn't take gamers more than five hours to complete. Thus it's vital that you have a friend who is planning on picking the title up, or it simply isn't worth it. Just as we were beginning to get into the game it finished. That may be because the combat was getting fairly repetitive, or it may be because the game was rushed out to make it in time for launch. Either way, it's a tad disappointing.
Fired Up is a shallow experience that can provide a few hours of fun. That said, we find it hard to recommend a game that can be fully completed (with everything found) in under five hours. If you simply must have a vehicular combat game for your PSP then the multiplayer is a fun experience, but we'd definitely recommend waiting for the ineivitable sequel, which will hopefully bring about a bigger game.