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Review: Chili Con Carnage – PSP

by Nick Haywood on 22 February 2007, 11:29

Tags: Chili Con Carnage (PSP), Eidos (TYO:9684), FPS

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qahxm

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La la la la la la bamba!

Now you’d be forgiven for thinking this would be something of a GTA clone but you couldn’t be more wrong. GTA is a free roaming game whereas Chili Con Carnage is far more linear with a set of missions to complete to progress, each with some sort of cutscene to either clue you in as to your goal or just set the tone for the level.

There’s four different modes of play, two single player and two multiplayer with El Gringo Loco being the main story-driven section with linear missions progressing through the story as you wreak havoc upon the bad guys in your quest to avenge your father. As you go you unlock the challenge missions, which you can then access in El Macho. The multiplayer consists of Hangman and Fiesta. Hangman is for four players on one PSP, where you challenge each other to missions, the one with the lowest score getting a notch drawn up on their hangman (just like the word game). Fiesta is true multiplayer mayhem over ad-hoc Wi-Fi, and here the longer the combo chain, the more extras you get to either use for your own advantage or can send to other players to screw them up.

Now I’ve just mentioned the combo-chain thing I’d better explain it as this is pretty much central to getting a decent score on Chili Con Carnage. As you play through the game, racking up kills is pretty much what you’re supposed to do... after all, what would be the point if you all sat down and discussed your differences over a taco and a tequila, eh? But in Chili Con Carnage, the quicker and more frequently you dispose of bad guys, the more your score racks up with the combo-chain multiplier. This encourages the player to go steaming in, guns blazing and keep going on a massive charge around the level. That’s not to say you can’t take it slowly and snipe from a distance, picking off a few baddies to give you a better chance, but believe me, it’s a lot more fun and a lot more satisfying to go in with those barrels hot and fiery.

But if it were just a case of taking down as many enemies as possible, Chili Con Carnage would soon become repetitive. This is where Chili Con Carnage plays a very cool masterstroke. It’s not just about how many guys (and later on, girls) you take down, it’s about how you do it too. We’re all aware of Max Payne’s ‘bullet time’, well Chili Con Carnage has one too though it works just a bit differently.

Labelled as ‘bullet dodge’, what you do is hit a direction with the analogue stick and then hit jump. If an enemy is nearby everything goes into slow motion as Ram does a full-on Neo impression. But you still have normal speed control of Ram’s aim so you can take down three of four bad guys in one fell swoop... And obviously, the more guys you take down, the better your score.

But gliding through the air in slow motion is just one of the many ‘Style’ moves... you can ‘wall walk’, giving it a Matrix style spinning flip, whilst firing of course, or perhaps do a 180⁰ spin followed by a nasty Widow Maker gun clubbing... and the combos on here rack up too. Catch the falling hat from a victim and this will add to the Style move multiplier and keep on adding until the hat gets blown off when you take a big hit.

The thing is, the ‘Style’ move combo stuff isn’t just a bit of fancy window dressing to artificially add more to the game, it has an actual use. There’s no way in hell that you’ll ever progress through the levels unless you make full use of Ram’s ability to jump, spin, leap and dodge. With the slow motion feature you can take down multiple bad guys in one hit, lessening the chances of being turned into a rather gory human sieve. So although it’s stylish and cool to machine gun a guy in a chicken suit whilst spinning upside down in slow motion, it’s also a useful survival trait... especially for anyone living in Southall.