I'm not much of an authority when it comes to the PSP, having only picked one up last year. I've gone through a bit of its back catalog, but all the games that pushed me into a purchase were ones that arrived in 2010 - four of them - specifically, the four that keep showing up on every other site's Game of the Year lists, when addressing the platform. At least I know I didn't really miss anything - not counting Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, which I didn't play, because Kingdom Hearts lost me at the four-hour tutorial in KH2.
So, with that caveat, these are the best PSP games of 2010.
Persona 3 Portable is quite nearly the definitive version of Persona 3. More accurately, P3P's existence means there is no definitive version of the game, given that it has some marked and valuable improvements over its console predecessors, but lacks the original's gorgeous hand-drawn animated cutscenes.
Let us not split hairs, gentlefolk - this is an exceptional game. A huge, sprawling, hundred-hour beast of an RPG with a fast-paced, strategic and satisfying combat system, absolutely awesome music, Atlus's trademark sky-high standard of loving localization and art direction and enemy designs that are regularly stunning. And, if you like, you can play it as a different gender to experience the story and relationships in a whole new light. Wow.
Persona 3 is one of the best RPGs of all time - and now you can carry it in your pocket.
While the boring characters and the cheesy story are a disappointment, Valkyria Chronicles II still has presentation that tries its damnedest to live up to its gorgeous PS3 counterpart, and a strength that makes up for any weakness: the gameplay.
The shoulder view you're allowed during movement and attack makes it feel a teensy bit like an action title, but at its core the title is pure strategy. It is paper, rock and scissors with magical rocket lances, snipers and fencers, cover and environmental hazards, buffs and status effects - and the depth of its systems confidently outdoes the original to a degree that borders on the ridiculous.
It's also an intimidatingly large affair, with a seemingly-limitless number of battles available to be fought and a New Game+ that really does manage to feel new - Valkyria Chronicles 2 is an incredible value for your gaming dollar, and a very unique title.
Thanks to an absolute glut of content with a surprising amount of intricacies that is in no way related to the stealth combat the series is known for, Peace Walker extends its playtime exponentially. Beyond just sneaking your way through the story (or the 100+ bonus missions), management of the company of soldiers that will one day form Big Boss's Outer Heaven is a huge task unto itself, with team management, hands-off stat-driven missions and the opportunity to manufacture your very own metal gear.
Frankly, I didn't much care for any of that (though, I'll admit, it is very addictive). What earns Peace Walker such a prominent place on the list is how, despite trying at nearly all ends to be different from any other Metal Gear Solid title, the core gameplay is true to the essential flavor of the franchise. Sneaking around the jungle or enemy compounds as Big Boss just feels right, thanks to twelve years of Gamer Sense developed under the tutelage of Hideo Kojima's School For Stealth. In terms of gameplay, Peace Walker hits all the right notes.
It doesn't hurt that it's a remarkably good-looking game, with off-the-scale production values (most notably sound design and voice work), and another wild, crazy, weirdly thoughtful ride with the manliest man who was ever masculine: Snake.
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BEST PSP GAME
You saw this coming, I trust. Or you would have, if you'd read the review.
No, Ghost of Sparta doesn't have the incredible playtime of any of the above titles. It doesn't present a whole new way of playing games, it doesn't submit a bold new vision for its franchise. It also never wears out its welcome (which any 30+ hour game may well do), and unlike Valkyria Chronicles II or Peace Walker, it doesn't make any sacrifices of structure or storytelling to the portable nature of its platform.
It's just an awesome game that's not prepared to limit itself to the (known) constrictions of the PSP's hardware, and it miraculously achieves its aim.
"God of War: Ghost of Sparta is, without caveat, the best game I've ever played on the PSP. It's a rip-snortin' adventure of grand proportions, it is insatiably good-looking (often shockingly so), it plays like a dream, the story is thoughtful, brutal and involving and it's the first time I've played a game on the PSP that didn't feel, even for a moment, like a concession was made to fit this little handheld."
- from the review -