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BIO HAZARD Director's Cut (PS3/PSP) Review

Sony announced original PlayStation emulation for the PSP handheld in early 2006, and launched the service together with the PlayStation 3, via the PlayStation Network digital store. In the early days of the service, Sony required the use of a PlayStation 3 to access the service, and downloaded PSone games could only be played back on the PSP. In late April, Sony updated the firmware of the PSP and PS3 systems to improve the functionality of PSN download titles; they can now run on both the PSP and PS3, and can use save files from the original PSone disc versions transferred from a memory card. Previous owners could download the new updates at no extra cost. The original cost was roughly $6 to begin with.

Being an emulated version, Biohazard Director's Cut runs exactly the same on the PSP and PS3 as it did on the PSone. No new game modes were added, but the game does feature variety; players can assume the roles of Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, in either their original modes (lifted from the original Biohazard 1), a mode with easier difficulty, or a mode with harder difficulty, altered camera angles and rearranged item placement. An individual runthrough with Chris and Jill isn't a terribly long adventure, especially for one who played through the game on the PSone. Still, this does somewhat compliment the portable nature of the PSP, allowing for large parts of the game to be enjoyed in a short amount of time. Expect around 2-3 hours per adventure.

  Biohazard brought survival horror-like gameplay into the mainstream. Aimed at scaring gamers, the game succeeded back in 1996, although today, on either the PSP or PS3, being scared simply isn't going to happen given the game's archaic visuals and the evolution of videogame scare tactics over the last decade. Gamers assume the role of Chris and Jill, and wander through a big mansion populated with zombies and others creatures, with locked doors they must find the keys for, and odd puzzles they must solve in order to get those keys. Creatures must be dispatched using a variety of weapons with limited amount of ammo; some weapons do more damage than others, for example comparing the Handgun to the Magnum. The aiming system allows for the characters to automatically aim at enemies, which isn't a perfect dynamic, because it has a difficult time tracking fast moving enemies. The controls, also unchanged from the PSone, translate to the Sixaxis and PSP buttons perfectly. As usual, some may have trouble with the movement of characters being tied to pressing up on the D-Pad, but gamers who become accustomed to the controls shouldn't have any problems after that.

There is a reasonable amount of path deviation, especially for Jill, so on subsequent replays, players can take different actions than they did the first time. For Jill, in one runthrough she may ignore a trap related to the acquisition of the Shotgun; on another, she may decide to circumvent the trap. Each character can go through four possible outcomes thanks to the presence of two allies, so it might be worth trying all of the combinations; both allies survive, only one survives (the first or the second ally), and no one survives. Saving the game requires ink ribbons used at typewriters; there's a limited amount of these, although the PSP's sleep mode or the PS3's PS button make this limitation somewhat insignificant unless the player wants to try another game.

  One cool feature about PSP-PS3 connectivity is the managing of save files; connecting the PSP and PS3 via USB, gamers can transfer their work-in-progress save files from the PS3 to the PSP and continue the adventure on the portable. Even save files from the PSone version, when created on the PS3 or somehow transfered over from a PSone memory card, will function with the PS3 and PSP versions of the game, providing extra incentive for original owners who downloaded the game to enjoy on the portable, or with the added convenience of no longer needing the game disc on their new PS3.

Naturally, the visuals weren't changed at all, except for a small improvement in color. Gamers expecting use of the PSP's hardware to improve the game will be disappointed at seeing the same compressed pre-rendered backdrops and low-resolution character models; being based on a 1996 game, the graphics were amazing for its time but are now outdated. The game is ugly by today's standards, so playing the game on the PS3 will surely be an eyesore relative to that system's capabilities. Director's Cut translates well onto the PSP screen; full screen mode at maximum brightness is recommended for the best possible look.

Biohazard Director's Cut was one of the first games available for download, and it's an interesting choice. Undoubtedly, gamers looking for a portable version of the original Biohazard will want to know the better choice between the DS's Biohazard Deadly Silence and the PSP's emulation of Biohazard Director's Cut. The truth is, there really isn't a clear cut winner and which version is superior is down to personal preference.

Deadly Silence and Director's Cut are both variations of the original Biohazard, but have many differences. Director's Cut aims for a complete emulation of the PSone game, regardless of the PS3 and PSP's capabilities, while Deadly Silence uses the DS's unique features to improve the Biohazard experience. While Deadly Silence cannot compete with Director's Cut's price and console-portable connectivity, it is the more appropriate of the two for portable games. The Director's Cut fails to allow for cut-scenes and door-opening sequences to be skipped, providing a waste of precious PSP battery life, and more importantly, a waste of time, if the player wants to get as much done as possible in a short time period. Deadly Silence allows for cutscenes and door scenes to be skipped, which makes the portable adventure that much smoother. Deadly Silence also brings the gameplay standard of the original up a few notches, matching Biohazard 3, thanks to the addition of the 180 turn and L-button knife wielding. Meanwhile, the PSP version is still stuck without the improved gameplay. Deadly Silence contains the interesting rebirth mode, but Director's Cut contains arrange mode. Graphically, Deadly Silence contains better character models than any version besides the GameCube remake, but the compressed backgrounds look quite a bit worse than the faithful backgrounds on the PSP.

Yet, for a hardcore Biohazard fan, the differences between the two versions make it so that they compliment each other. Gamers who just want the challenge or THE original version should go for the PSP version, while gamers looking for a version better suited for handhelds in general, or are looking for the most advanced version, ought to give the DS version a try.

But as far as the PSP-PS3 product is concerned, at a low price of $6 or so, you cannot go wrong with one of the best games from the PSone era. Director's Cut suits the handheld PSP well enough to be enjoyable, and while the save system and constant loading times may be a turn off for on-the-go gaming, Director's Cut is still a nice classic addition for anyone's PSP-PS3 library.

Note: The game is only available on the Japanese and Hong Kong PSN stores.



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