Coded Arms Review

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Developer: Konami Publisher: Konami
Release Date: July 6, 2005 Also On: None

Konami’s Coded Arms for the PSP has finally been released into an anticipated gaming crowd. It is the first shooter on the console, but over time Konami hyped it up to be a groundbreaking release. In the final product Konami has succeeded in making a fun, enjoyable first-person shooter. Despite a few problems, Coded Arms is easily accessible and makes a great handheld game.

It’s the distant future, and an overloaded network has been infected with a program called A.I.D.A. As a hacker/soldier, your goal is to go deep into the A.I.D.A. program, destroy dangerous viral bugs and sentry robots, and recover government files. The story is basically a generic sci-fi tale, but you never have any sort of cinematic encounter once the gameplay begins.

On paper, it would be easiest to describe Coded Arms as a Doom clone with sci-fi graphics and loads of square rooms. The game is essentially a hallway-crawling, elevator-riding, room-clearing romp. At any rate, the game is still a blast to play. For a handheld shooter, Coded Arms’ enemies are very different in both appearance and A.I. There are three basic classes of opponents, including humans, aliens, and robots. Each of these classes has a different weakness to one of the five weapon attributes, including normal-based, fire-based, electrical-based, viral-based, and light-based attacks. On top of all of these different attributes, there are more than 20 weapons that can be found and permanently upgraded with power-ups found in battle. If the story seems shallow, the gameplay is actually pretty deep.

The enemy A.I. is pretty generic overall, but certain enemies tend to rush and attack you while others stay far back and peg you with bullets or viral spray. In the second half of the game, some rooms are filled with as many as five to ten enemies and the action on-screen can get pretty heated. It was at this point that I didn’t think about the A.I. because it was kicking my ass for the most part. This brings up one of the most prevalent issues with Coded Arms: the controls.

I’m not one to scorn a game for unique or difficult controls, and Coded Arms is one of those games. As the first PSP first-person shooter, the game fares pretty well. The analog stick is used for forward/backward movement as well as strafing. The face buttons are used for camera movement, much like a controller’s right analog stick. The D-pad’s directions switch weapons, reload, and toggle the on-screen map on and off. Last of all, the L and R triggers control shooting and jumping. The controls are simple to get used to after a half-hour or so, but the frantic combat near the end of the game is terribly punishing and requires a mastery of the controls. I didn’t find this to be a flaw, and in fact I was impressed by how responsive the controls are.

Without a doubt the best aspect of Coded Arms is the graphic quality. Despite having randomly-generated maps, the different art designs are really impressive. Near the end of the game, some of the levels are simply beautiful. The enemies aren’t very detailed, but their animation is superb. Explosions look great, and some of the sci-fi effects (like screen distortions and things like that) are really cool.

The sound shares the same quality. The sound effects tear right out of the PSP speakers. Blasting a group of enemies with an assault rifle sounds really impressive for a handheld title. The music is also pretty good, and serves a great purpose. Whenever a room contains an enemy, the music picks up. Once you’ve cleared the room, the music quiets down. Personally, I love this musical help in videogames.

Fortunately Coded Arms is a relatively long game. I clocked in at six and a half hours before attempting the final “sector,” which is a super-long bonus level known as “infinite mode.” For a handheld game, six hours is a pretty nice chunk of time. This is all before multiplayer comes into play. Like most PSP games to this point, I didn’t get to check out Coded Arms’ wireless multiplayer. It’s too bad, because Konami put a lot of time into the three gameplay modes. Deathmatch, Keep the Mark (which is basically Oddball from Halo/Halo 2), and Capture the Flag are your different options, and they’re basically the same stuff you’d see in any other shooter for that matter. The only difference is that it’s all on a wireless handheld. Unfortunately there is no Infrastructure compatibility, which means there is no online play. Only the Ad Hoc mode is available for people to play with nearby friends.

In conclusion, the level design is very primitive and square, the story is pretty much non-existent, and the game is essentially a dungeon-crawler. I enjoyed the game so much despite these flaws because I personally found a way to get around all of it and I had a great time. If you can adjust to a difficult control scheme and you’re looking for a great shooter on-the-go, this game is a great one to drop $40 on. It’ll be interesting to see how this genre grows on the PSP after Coded Arms has set its mark.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 7.5
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 7.5
Written by Cliff Review Guide

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