Chili Con Carnage Review

I won’t be the first to say that the PSP is flooded with ports and remakes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are all of substandard quality. Based off of last year’s Total Overdose: A Gunslinger’s Tale in Mexico, Chili Con Carnage is a solid action title, with plenty of gunfire, explosions, and John Woo style gunplay to go around.

Chili Con Carnage‘s story focuses on a young man named Ram, who finds himself consumed by vengeance after witnessing his father’s grisly murder. He sets out to make all responsible parties — who just happen to comprise a Mexican drug cartel — pay, and pay dearly. What ensues is a series of missions that play out like fight scenes from the movie Desperado, with some Max Payne -esque moves thrown in to spice things up.

While borrowing heavily from its predecessor, Chili Con Carnage makes a legitimate attempt to be its own game. Gone is the free-roaming gameplay, replaced by bite-sized missions that are much more suited to a handheld gaming system. The plot has also been liberally retailored to fit the attenuated game design. Remaining the same, however, is the high-flying action that players will take part in throughout the adventure, performing slow-motion shot-dodges, jumping out of recklessly driven vehicles, blowing up everything in sight, and shooting drug traffickers squarely in the face — over and over.

What makes the action much more interesting than simply shooting everything that moves (or doesn’t) is the way Chili Con Carnage tallies the player’s score. The goal is to build up points based on stylish "takedowns," Loco Moves, and combo chains. At the most basic level, this equates to stringing together kills and actions such as kicking off of walls, sliding down zip-lines, and leaping from cars. With the help of a slew of Loco Move pickups, Ram is able to take things a step further, whipping out machine gun guitar cases, unleashing a whirlwind of uzi fire, or even baiting unsuspecting cartel members with a pinata as he picks them off one by one. Additionally, each mission can be replayed as a "challenge" level, where goals range from killing a certain number of bad guys in the allotted time to racking up style points via particular moves.

While all the action is a lot of fun, there are a few issues worth mentioning. The control scheme of Chili Con Carnage is obviously limited by the hardware on which it is available. The PSP lacks a second analog stick, and therefore Ram lacks the ability to easily peruse his surroundings. In order to look around freely, one must hold down the circle button before manipulating the analog stick. During that time, Ram remains stationary and vulnerable to death’s icy grasp — or at least a cartel member’s warm bullets. In the heat of combat, Ram always targets in the direction he is facing, making a fight with enemies at all sides a less fluid situation to handle than it would be with a better camera system. This is not to say that things become unbearable, because the level design, enemy AI, and slow motion shot-dodging all serve to make combat more manageable.

Another small gripe has to do with the two multiplayer modes Chili Con Carnage offers. Including a multiplayer mode is a big plus, and adding a second is like icing on the cake, but in this game, neither multiplayer option features player versus player combat. Hangman mode plays out much like the traditional basketball game, h-o-r-s-e. Up to four players take turns trying to score the most points. As long as the current player betters the previous score, the round continues. If not, then he’s on his way to a "hangman." Fiesta mode is an ad-hoc killing contest. Up to 4 players are thrown into separate rooms, where they fight to be the first to reach a set point value. It is almost like a gunslinging Tetris personification. Both multiplayer options offer something unique and interesting, but the game could have benefited from a more traditional deathmatch mode, or even cooperative play.

Overall, Chili Con Carnage is a keeper. There’s plenty of action to keep a gamer interested, with a handful of extras beyond the main sequence of missions. A mix of Spanish hip-hop and Mexican-themed tunes fit the setting, and the visuals are very good for a PSP game. Clearly, this game doesn’t aim to be "hard-boiled," with pinatas, tnt-strapped chicken, and a general lighthearted humor about it, and that is most likely a good thing. The gameplay will eventually get old, but by not taking itself too seriously, Chili Con Carnage doesn’t play itself out as fast as it might have otherwise. Overlooking slight control issues, this game is perfect for a quick action fix, done with style.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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