Racing, dog fighting and more racing!!
The PSP is a couple of years old now and has a really varied catalogue. There are a number of good racing games and even a few decent flying games. So when a games developer decides to put out a new game, they must really think hard about what part of the market is not saturated with good products. This means one of 2 things. Produce something totally new, or create a new twist on something old. M.A.C.H. falls into the latter category, kind of.
M.A.C.H. is fast, really fast
M.A.C.H. (Modified Air Combat Hero’s) is a game made of two distinct styles. The first is a straight out high speed racing game. Think about Wipeout with the ability to fly above the track, mixed with the burnout feature of Burnout and a bit of After burner thrown in for good measure.
Like Wipeout there are power ups available. These come in several flavours, MACH power, Guided Missile, Stealth, Mines and Cluster Missiles. You can hold one power up and used carefully these can swing any race in your favour!
MACH Power is a key factor in this game. It is similar to the Burnout meter in Burnout. Flying low builds up power as does destroying another racer. Once it goes over a certain level it can be used for one of 2 things. A double tap of X will give you a boost. Tap Square and you will execute a barrel roll, useful for dodging missiles and the like.
The second style is the dog fighting game. Your plane is not just designed for racing, it is designed for fighting as well. The dog fight levels play like an arena, with obstacles and powerups dotted around. The fighting, like everything else in the game, is fast paced and adrenaline filled. Unlike the raced you have the ability to fly around freely, pulling off loops and dives as and when you feel like it.
You also have machine guns. Once a target is in your sights (which turn red) you can let rip with the guns, until they over heat. The same powerups are available here, but this time you can get 3 missiles at once, giving you much more destructive power. A really nice feature that adds to the drama is the missile cam. When you fire a missile the camera view changes to a more cinematic view so you can see the missile hit its target. This can be annoying at times, but for the most part is a great addition.
Each level rewards you with cash that can be spent upgrading your planes. You can up the gun power, engines, wings and all sorts. Also completing levels can unlock new planes. Each plane looks and feels totally different, some are built for speed some for combat.
M.A.C.H. is fast, really fast, with scenery dashing past you so fast at times you barely see it. Which is a shame as the graphics in this are superb, some of the best I have seen on the PSP. The planes are all well rendered and animated with nice little touches, such as moving brakes. The scenery is also well made, with jumbo jets flying over head and sailing boats floating around under you in the ravines.
The controls are really intuitive and responsive, with a choice of either using the D-Pad or the Nub to control the movement of your plane. For once the D-Pad doesn’t disappoint! I also love the very forgiving collisions! Some may say that this detracts from any possible realism, but for me it just adds to the speed and the fun!
One complaint I have seen about M.A.C.H is the lack of planes and tracks. There are only about 5 tracks. Each one can be played in reverse and has a short version, but still there are only 5. For me though this made no difference. After all this is a portable game. People seem to forget that about the PSP. It is a portable games system, designed for gaming on the move. M.A.C.H. delivers this in bucket loads, with short and fast moments of game play on tap.
M.A.C.H caters well for most players. With Arcade, Challenge and Career modes each with various levels of difficulty, there is a lot of game to play. The graphics and sound are both fantastic and the game plays as well as any I have tested to date.
One of the most enjoyable games I have played on the PSP. Highly recommended!