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The Con - PSP - Preview

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Posted by: jkdmedia

PRE-E3 2005: Hands On

The crowd buzzes with uncertainty. The blows are landing and you are staggering, but the crowd is starting to sense that all may not be what it appears to be. With an inward grin, you fire back with a kick to knock your opponent off their pacing, then follow with a hard right hand. The crowd murmurs its pleasure, and their approval climbs but the odds against you winning the fight drop.

That is at the core of The Con, a fresh and exciting IP (intellectual property, or unique story) from SCEA for the PSP. Slated for release in the fall of 2005, The Con is all about fighting, manipulating the odds and scoring big paydays. It is also about attracting a crew of fighters, knowing when to drop a bet on yourself to win or to lose, and then making the crowd believe the whole setup.

The robust fighting mechanics sport variable transparency of the characters and intuitive controls. You use the D-pad to lean in or out, duck to the left or right, while the hot buttons control the basic fighting moves, and can lead to devastating combos.

The game also has incredible character customization, allowing players to totally tailor the look of the character. You can import your own face into the game, or go so far as to manipulate the bone structure on the face of the available avatars to create a unique look.

But that aside, the amazing elements of The Con are the manipulation of the fight and the fight itself. The computer AI keeps you close to your opponent and there are five base fighting skills, but the combo editor allows players to work the skills and put unique moves into the game. There are more than 20 levels of gameplay and after you assemble a three-member crew, you can take them into Ad Hoc multiplayer WiFi gameplay.

The story follows a former guest of the penal system who is released owing a sizable debt. He, or she, enters the fight game to pay off that debt. As SCEA producer Deborah Mars stated, “there is the action behind the action. There are people who want to see the action and those who want a piece of the action.” That sums up The Con.

You can lay down a bet, but knowing when to place it and how much is vital. The game uses the left shoulder button as The Con button. Depress it and take a few hits; depress it and attack and it may look like you are throwing real attacks, but there is little behind them. The crowd is represented by a thumbs-up/thumbs-down meter. When you get the thumbs up, they believe you are fighting sincerely. If that thumbs starts to wobble, they are starting to doubt your intent, and thumbs down means they think you faked the fight, and you lost ‘the con.’

The game’s controls are intuitive and easy to use, and the sound elements are first rate. The graphics are full of style and grimacing moves. This is a game that looks great and plays well, even at this stage in the development.

The Con will be bringing something new to the fight game, and doing so with style that will sparkle on the handheld console.

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