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Author Topic: Are long load times killing the PSP?  (Read 5160 times)
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« on: December 12, 2005, 01:37:16 AM »

I got a PSP a week or two ago and one of the games I wanted was Burnout Legends.  I'd never played a Burnout game before and was pretty excited.  Both my wife and I were surprised by the load times to get the game running and between races.  We bought the PS2 Burnout 3 and it seems like half the wait to replay crash mode and races.

X-Men Legends II - great game but why do I have to wait to load the menu?

Sims 2 is a game I've been watching closely.  The thought of Sims on the go is very appealing.  Tonight I saw Gamespy's review.  I'll quote a few sections:
Quote
When I say that load times are a problem, I don't mean that you have to wait before the game starts. The load times in Sims 2 are pervasive and continual. Not a moment passes without the action pausing while your UMD whirs and clicks and spins -- it's jarring even after hours of play. More than just a nuisance, loading delays impact the actual gameplay, nearly ruining some of the mini-games and turning even basic tasks into an ordeal. It's a real shame, because underneath these problems the core game is solid! We can't help but feel that EA came very close to a great thing here.

Quote
Worse, every single animation and every single icon displayed requires the game to freeze while it loads data off of the drive. In Sims 2 this happens constantly. Even the simplest of activities requires extensive loading. For example, let's say you want to study a book. You click on the bookshelf (pause: load, load) and your sim pulls down a book (pause: load, load). The mini-game instructions appear (followed by a short pause to load). It's unclear when the mini-game will actually begin, so you start frantically jamming on the buttons for when it DOES start. The mini-game ends (pause: load, load) and then your sim returns the book to its shelf (pause: load, load, load). Then, finally, the game resumes. It feels as though anywhere between 20-30% of your game time is spent watching the game load things. Sometimes, the PSP built-in screensaver kicks in(!)

Ugh.

Midnight Club 3?  From Gamespot's review:
Quote
Unfortunately, it takes an exceedingly long time to load up each of these cities--upward of 70 seconds in most cases. The in-game loading times are also annoying. During gameplay you often have to switch between racing, cruising, and visiting the local garage, and jumping from spot to spot always results in some lengthy loading. The console versions weren't exactly quick when it came to in-game loading, but they were an absolute breeze compared to the PSP iteration.

Ugh again.

Is this just developers working out the kinks of programming for this system?  Or is it problem that is unavoidable given the system's setup?

What other games seem plagued by long load times?

And what games seem to load quickly on the PSP?
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2005, 01:56:47 AM »

Yeah, the loading on most PSP games is horrid. I don't know exactly why but they need to get a handle on this quick.
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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2005, 02:05:49 AM »

For me, yep its a huge issue.  I agree in particular in X-Men Legends- load times were way too painful and frequent for a portable.  So bad that I've given up on the game after the first chapter despite enjoying the rest of the package.  

I think its a side effect of most of these games being either direct ports (Legends, Midnight Club) or using an existing engine (Burnout Legends) that aren't specifically designed for the PSP.  If games were built from the ground up based on the disk speed and texture requirements of the PSP I doubt it would be an issue.

Games that I've played where load times aren't an issue are Legend of Heroes, Kingdom of Paradise, and Metal Gear Acid.

Oh, and the Prince of Persia port is awful, load times introduced into what was once a continous experience being one of many faults with an engine that just wasn't designed to be handled on the PSP.
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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2005, 02:16:51 AM »

Twisted Metal didn't have much of a problem with load times. Usually took about 15-20 seconds to load, and then once in the level, no more loading.

From reading that on the Sims 2, there's just no way one can justify $40+ for it. Let the developers support their customers first (do something about these load times) and then in return, we'll support them and their games.
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« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2005, 04:42:25 AM »

As far as load times for the newer games, SOCOM:US Navy Seals has been great.  The maps are pretty large for a portable, and there are no load times switching out weapons, issuing orders, going into rooms, and getting updates from HQ.  I picked up NBA Live '06, and it is plagued with some of the stuttering UMD problems (not to mention having to turn off the absurdly frequent replays which also contributed to breaking up the flow of the game).

For some reason the load times in Xmen legends didn't bother me too much.  Having to wait for menus to pull up did get tiresome though.  The development team for SOCOM managed to handle things like bringing up in-game weapons menus, issuing orders, and no load times for large zones, so I don't see why it couldn't be done for other games.  That's dissapointing to hear about the load times for the Sims.  

How are the load times for GTA?
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« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2005, 05:23:56 AM »

It's weird - because of the load times, I tend to view my PSP as just another console similar to my Xbox/Cube/PS2.  I tend to only play it if I have a lot of uninterrupted time on my hands, while if I have a minute or two to play something I'll almost always immediately reach for my DS.

The PSP's sleep mode does a ton to help mitigate the load times but even then a lot of games take time to spin the disk back up again (XMen Legends is a good example).  It probably wouldn't seem that bad if I didn't have the DS to compare it to everyday - in almost every game I can go from powerup to playing in < 10 seconds.

If you think Legends is bad, try playing Madden.  Ugh...
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« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2005, 09:33:38 AM »

Quote from: "Dimmona"
It's weird - because of the load times, I tend to view my PSP as just another console similar to my Xbox/Cube/PS2.  I tend to only play it if I have a lot of uninterrupted time on my hands, while if I have a minute or two to play something I'll almost always immediately reach for my DS.

That's exactly how I feel.  I tend to keep my PSP in sleep mode, just so I don't have to wait for it to load up, while I can start a DS game cold in less than 10 seconds.
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« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2005, 12:52:08 PM »

The load times in Burnout haven't bothered me at all.
With X-Men, I wish it didn't take so much to pull the menu up and spend a couple of experience points, but aside from that, I've got no issues.
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« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2005, 01:06:10 PM »

Quote from: "Dimmona"
It's weird - because of the load times, I tend to view my PSP as just another console similar to my Xbox/Cube/PS2.  I tend to only play it if I have a lot of uninterrupted time on my hands, while if I have a minute or two to play something I'll almost always immediately reach for my DS.

And that right there is exactly what's wrong with the PSP - it's just a portable PS2, long load times and all. It's also why I never play mine.

I remember 'acquiring' versions of games that I own (Lumines and Wipeout) that fit onto my memory card, and found that load times were next to gone (1-2 seconds, tops). This brought the device back into the portable realm (where we're used to no loading times), and found that it made those games far more enjoyable to play.

What Sony (or some hacker group) needs to make is a program that converts your purchased game into one that can be run on the memory card. Yes, you'd need a 1 or 2 gig card, but it would solve pretty much all the load issues. The transfer rate of the card is far, far greater than the PSP drive once you factor in spin up times and whatnot.

Of course, the above would never happen, but we can dream, can't we?
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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2005, 02:17:33 PM »

Quote from: "Destructor"
Of course, the above would never happen, but we can dream, can't we?


It's an interesting idea, and would fall within the same scope as making a backup of purchased software, really. Now interestingly, there's that Sony patent that came up a while back that would let them tie a piece of software to a specific system so that you couldn't (or so the speculation went) buy used software....what if they could use that so that you could legally and easily burn a piece of software to a mem stick but it would be tied to the original hardware.
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« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2005, 03:31:26 PM »

Then there is the obvious:  put games on a damn memory stick instead of the disc.
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« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2005, 04:32:50 PM »

I leave GTA: Liberty City in sleep mode, and load times seem less then the GTA's on the consoles for me (though not as fast as GTA on the PC).  Load times usually only bother me the first time I load the game, since sleep mode handles the rest.  

Could the load times be better though?  Sure, and some games are better then others.  Their are pros/cons to the optical format, it is what is.  Not sure a cartridge format can work anymore when driving high resolution games and textures, or at least a cartridge format that is cost effective.

edit:
How big are the DS cartridges, how much memory can they hold?  What will Nintendo do for the next generation?  And aren't the cartridges more expensive then Sony's disc to produce, eating some profit?
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« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2005, 06:33:08 PM »

Quote from: "th'FOOL"
Then there is the obvious:  put games on a damn memory stick instead of the disc.

I thought I just said that. Just far wordier. biggrin
However, what I think you mean is to actually purchase memory sticks containing the games right off instead of PSP discs.

Here's an idea for 'backing up' games - the game would allow itself to be dumped to a memory stick, but it would require the game to be in the PSP in order to access it. It would fix the 'rent and copy' idea, but it would leave itself vunerable to hackers capable of making the PSP think there's a game in the drive.

All I know is that between the console underclocking itself to 222mhz (when it's capable of 333mhz) and the slow PSP CD drive (to extend battery life), the device is very slow to load up games.
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« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2005, 07:29:39 PM »

Sorry, yes, that was directed at the game makers
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« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2005, 07:58:18 PM »

Having the option to install games on the memory card is a great idea.  If the UMD had to be present in the drive to verify ownership, I don’t see what the obstacles would be.  It might end up driving more sales to the memory cards and newer mini-hard drive attachments too.  I’d gladly upgrade to a better memory card for faster load times.
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« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2005, 09:36:23 PM »

Quote from: "Roguetad"
Having the option to install games on the memory card is a great idea.  If the UMD had to be present in the drive to verify ownership, I don’t see what the obstacles would be.  It might end up driving more sales to the memory cards and newer mini-hard drive attachments too.  I’d gladly upgrade to a better memory card for faster load times.


They can also put any cinematics or what have you on the disc (not that there's many games with cinematics). Have it act like PC games of olde biggrin
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« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2005, 09:40:16 PM »

I agree that the load times are too long.  But, since I tend to play my PSP either in "waiting" situations, like doc appointments, etc. it's no problem there - better than some old magazine about yachting.  I also play in place of a console - someone is using the TV in the room I want to be in, so I grab my PSP and use that.

And it is still all about the games - I'm adoring MediEvil, and I'm willing to put up with a few load time issues - just to play the game.  I'm sure it's not one of the worst ones, either, just noticeable and sometimes mildly annoying.

It sounds like I should be thankful that I like neither sports games nor SIMS games, though!  :twisted:
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« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2005, 12:04:47 AM »

Quote from: "ChaoZ"
Quote from: "Roguetad"
Having the option to install games on the memory card is a great idea.  If the UMD had to be present in the drive to verify ownership, I don’t see what the obstacles would be.  It might end up driving more sales to the memory cards and newer mini-hard drive attachments too.  I’d gladly upgrade to a better memory card for faster load times.


They can also put any cinematics or what have you on the disc (not that there's many games with cinematics). Have it act like PC games of olde biggrin


agreed (also agree with kevin re: direct ports being a primary source of the problem - as mytocles says, even the 'resurrected', rather than just ported, medievil runs pretty well)...
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« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2005, 03:02:24 AM »

Nintendo DS cartridges are pretty small and while there's not much loading, they can only hold 125mb each compared to the PSP's 1.8gb per disc.
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« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2005, 03:07:11 AM »

Quote from: "corruptrelic"
Nintendo DS cartridges are pretty small and while there's not much loading, they can only hold 125mb each compared to the PSP's 1.8gb per disc.


They'd need to find a way to distribute MS Pro Duo storage on the cheap though. I guess write-once may be cheaper than read/write, but you'd still need to store stuff somewhere.
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« Reply #20 on: December 13, 2005, 03:22:00 AM »

Quote from: "ChaoZ"
Quote from: "corruptrelic"
Nintendo DS cartridges are pretty small and while there's not much loading, they can only hold 125mb each compared to the PSP's 1.8gb per disc.

They'd need to find a way to distribute MS Pro Duo storage on the cheap though. I guess write-once may be cheaper than read/write, but you'd still need to store stuff somewhere.

That's ultimately the issue as to why games aren't released on MS Pro Duo sticks - the cost of the stick itself. My 1GB stick ran me a bit under $100, and that was a few months after the PSP came out. Not sure what they go for now.

And I have no clue what a write-once would cost of something that big.
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« Reply #21 on: December 14, 2005, 03:50:26 PM »

Yep. GTA is one of the fastest loading games I have, so that why it seem pretty good for you Scott. It access's the disc a lot though, so I do worry it could be damaging the drive. Between needless loading screens (EA are awful for this) that you cannot skip, and the inability to quickly access status screens like in XMen Legends, and the endless firmware upgrading, I do reckon Sony is going to need one hell of a killer ap for me to keep buying their games. I have a nice collection, and I have homebrew. Smackdown vs Raw could be the last game I get for my PSP, and I'll just use it in future for the emulators and movie player. I love my PSP, and use it a lot more then my DS, but at the moment the future looks bleak for it.

Edited to add that Sony seem like such smug gits, I really don't feel like giving them my business.
http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=62137
http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=62158
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« Reply #22 on: December 14, 2005, 05:42:03 PM »

Ugh.  That second article was ridiculous.

Quote
Eurogamer: Would you say Sony missed the boat with online gaming in this generation, given the relative success of Live compared to PS2 Online? Is that a balance you're hoping to redress in the next generation?

Phil Harrison: I've always been very admiring of some of the things Microsoft has managed to do with their branding and some of the consumer elements of their service, but it's always important to remember that more people play online games through PlayStation 2 than any other consoles. On a worldwide basis it is the most popular online console by virtue of the size of the installed base.


My ass, it is.  How the fuck would they know any solid info on that without a centralized network like Live, anyway.

And how many online capable games does the PS2 have?  Surely not as much as Xbox.  pure bullshit.
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« Reply #23 on: December 14, 2005, 05:48:41 PM »

Man, I don't know...I jumped on Socom 2 a year ago and there was a really, really high number of people playing.  I couldn't believe it.  It was somewhere in the 2x,000's, if I can recall correctly.

Other than that and Killzone (maybe 100 people at a time), I don't see a large amount of people online with their PS2's.
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« Reply #24 on: December 14, 2005, 05:51:54 PM »

from Bungie.net:

Quote
Halo 2 - Xbox Live Statistics
(last 24 hrs)
Unique Players:     301,566
Matches Logged:    633,888
Players Online:     20,752


You mean something like that?
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« Reply #25 on: December 14, 2005, 08:11:15 PM »

Yes, the PS2 claiming to be the most played online console is a LOL joke to anyone who knows better.  Ask Sega...just because the Dreamcast included a modem doesn't mean people used it.  And the PS2 doesn't include the modem...it's a seperate purchase (at least for the original system) and it's also required to use a hard drive (pirates want to copy games to the HD not play online).

Anyway, back to the topic.  I hated the load times on the PSP.  I know the DS carts are much smaller but the load times are near instant and it makes a huge difference when you only have 5-15 mins to play.
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« Reply #26 on: December 14, 2005, 09:19:21 PM »

Quote
GTA is one of the fastest loading games I have, so that why it seem pretty good for you Scott. It access's the disc a lot though,

Other games I've tried like SSX, and Metal Gear Acid loaded pretty well too, especially via sleep mode.

It seems, that the optical format is the way of the future.  Unless memory sticks get much cheaper, or Nintendo or someone else can come up with a very cheap way to put 5 gigs on a cartridge.

The DS is fine with the cartridge because of its 'lesser' graphics capability.  But when you add in the larger textures, more complex scene renderings, better sound and video, you just need storage.  Nintendo will have to switch over to optical too, or keep its display very simple.

Sony's execution may need work though.  As mentioned, most made for the PSP games work fairly well.
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« Reply #27 on: December 14, 2005, 10:21:41 PM »

Quote from: "ericb"
Yes, the PS2 claiming to be the most played online console is a LOL joke to anyone who knows better.  Ask Sega...just because the Dreamcast included a modem doesn't mean people used it.  And the PS2 doesn't include the modem...it's a seperate purchase (at least for the original system) and it's also required to use a hard drive (pirates want to copy games to the HD not play online).
.


You wouldn't know it from the proportion of posts about it but Live is only in something like a bit over 2 million homes which is only a little more than 10% of those who purchased Xbox.  I can't find the numbers offhand but I seem to recall that Sony had actually sold more network adapters than MS has Live kits which isn't surprsing when you have a 90+ million install base.  

Sony's online capablility obviously isn't used nearly as often as Live but I think you'd be surprised by its numbers.  And, as TML alluded to, SOCOM is a friggin' sales monster and posts some very large online numbers.
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« Reply #28 on: December 15, 2005, 03:31:31 AM »

Quote from: "Kevin Grey"
You wouldn't know it from the proportion of posts about it but Live is only in something like a bit over 2 million homes which is only a little more than 10% of those who purchased Xbox.  I can't find the numbers offhand but I seem to recall that Sony had actually sold more network adapters than MS has Live kits which isn't surprsing when you have a 90+ million install base.


Do they include the slimline PS2 numbers or the PS2 bundle that came with the modem adapter attached to the PS2?  I think it would be interesting to see those numbers.
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« Reply #29 on: December 15, 2005, 11:48:45 AM »

Quote from: "Graham"
Do they include the slimline PS2 numbers or the PS2 bundle that came with the modem adapter attached to the PS2?  I think it would be interesting to see those numbers.


Nah, the numbers I saw were strictly for sales of the online adapter SKU.  Unfortunately I can't find them now but IIRC they were greater than 2 million.  I do know for a fact that at the point Live had 600k subscriptions that the adapter had sold one million but that data is from 2003.
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« Reply #30 on: December 15, 2005, 02:16:55 PM »

Why would this surprise anyone? Over 4X the user base, "free" online play (you do have to buy the adapter), and 56K-capable. If you have Live, you love Live, but Sony wins the online war in numbers.
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« Reply #31 on: December 16, 2005, 04:43:55 AM »

From Gamespot's review of Prince of Persia Revelations for the PSP:
Quote
Initial load times for Revelations are also pretty bad, even for a PSP game. Booting it up takes more than a minute or so, and the first save game you load up takes nearly as long. You'll also find that there are approximately five-second loading screens as you move from one large area to another. These wouldn't be so bad except that they can happen at inopportune times, like when you're trying to navigate a series of traps.

Yet another ugh.
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« Reply #32 on: December 16, 2005, 04:46:43 AM »

I bought Smackdown vs Raw last night, and so far I *love* it - almost identical to the console version.  There's no commentary, and the graphics are quite a bit worse (mostly the character's bodies and the crowd - their faces are still awesome) but considering just how many features/modes they've packed in I don't mind one bit.  The Texas Hold'em minigame is actually pretty awesome - I think I enjoy it better than most of the standalone versions of the game on the consoles.

That said, about the only bad thing I can say about it is that if you hate long load times on your PSP games, you ain't seen nothing yet.  From the time the game comes on to the time you are actually in the ring is probably a good 5 minutes at best.
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« Reply #33 on: December 16, 2005, 02:04:58 PM »

Quote from: "Dimmona"
That said, about the only bad thing I can say about it is that if you hate long load times on your PSP games, you ain't seen nothing yet.  From the time the game comes on to the time you are actually in the ring is probably a good 5 minutes at best.

Good lord. That's not a 'sit down and play for 10 minutes' game anymore with those kinds of loading times.
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« Reply #34 on: January 09, 2006, 10:19:36 PM »

Here's another one.  From 1Up's preview of Me And My Katamari: link.
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The game's good looks come at something of a cost, and fans may be disappointed to learn that its nowhere near the seamless experience the PS2 titles were. Load times are rampant within every stage, and there's a significant pause when you reach the midpoint of a stage and its larger-scale version streams in. Where other Katamari titles place you within a level and let you keep rolling until you reach your goal, that's impossible here.

Boy I sure hope they fix this before they release it over here.
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« Reply #35 on: March 02, 2006, 05:10:57 PM »

Another game I was moderately interested in: Ys: The Ark of Napishtim.

5.5/10 from 1up: link to review
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Ys: The Ark of Napishtim is divided into large area maps, with a loading screen between each. Due to the game's irritating -- sorry, "old-school" -- difficulty curve that forces the player to power-level by killing monsters whenever they enter a new zone in order to proceed, prepare to spend a lot of time clearing a zone, waiting for the load time to finish, stepping back into the zone, waiting for the load time to finish, and glaring at the chipper "Now Loading&" message as it scrolls by in various upbeat colors. These load times are usually half a minute or longer, and it's almost as if you can actually feel the power being drained from the PSP as the UMD spins. Loads within a zone are no problem -- such as entering a shop -- but they're also much more rare.

Out!  Next!
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« Reply #36 on: March 02, 2006, 06:35:08 PM »

Smackdown vs RAW 'loading' video

even skipping past the cut-scenes... almost 6 1/2 minutes!
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« Reply #37 on: March 02, 2006, 06:44:54 PM »

If this thing were maybe 149.99...but so far, no killer games at all, bad load times, and its expensive.
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« Reply #38 on: March 02, 2006, 11:42:11 PM »

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Out!  Next!


metal gear acid 2: march 28 (also highly recommend exit, maybe my favorite sleeper since phoenix wright)...
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"... i'm not against some 'monkey catching'... but i'd rather be collecting pants..."
- snake, 'snake vs monkey' (mgs3:se)
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« Reply #39 on: March 06, 2006, 04:18:52 PM »

Breath of Fire III?

Not according to Eurogamer:
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However, what, in real tangible objective terms, is a malicious oversight on Capcom's part is the abortive load times punctuating each...word...before...and...after...each...and...every...sentence...and...battle...and oh screw it let's put the kettle on and do something less boring instead.

It's not that we're spoiled ADHD brats weaned from slow burning media onto the sugary addiction of MTV chip chop suey editing technique for five second attention span children. It really is that this game has disgraceful, game-ruining, anachronistic load times that make the PSP feel like a console twenty years its age. Your head is plunged in and out of the game world with such force and frequency that soon you can't catch your breath and you'll be longing again for Game & Watch immediacy.

Still, if you are crying out for a solid traditional RPG and you don't mind a black space commercial break every fifteen seconds then this is the game for you.
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