The one elusive game type for a portable has to be the first-person shooter. Other than one or two exceptions, there really haven't been too many first person games in the handheld market. Thus enter Coded Arms.
Coded Arms is a shooter based in virtual reality. It was an abandoned government project used for training purposes that developed sentience. So, what would anybody do in that situation? Hack it, of course. In Coded Arms, you play the role of a hacker who is scavenging this training simulator. So, you hack into this mainframe and go through it, guns blazing, in search of valuable materials.
The most notable feature of this game is that it's attractive in the graphics department. Not attractive in a classical sense, mind you, but technologically impressive. The game maintains a rather smooth feel throughout all the action. The models and textures are well-designed but unfortunately repetitive. There are basically three types of levels and they're all kind of boring after the first time through.
One of the big sells for Coded Arms was that the levels were random, which they are, but they aren't random in an interesting way, unfortunately. The only real randomization is whether or not you run down a long hallway or a short one. There is, of course, more randomization than that, but it all kind of blends together and is rather forgetable. The sound is also sort of forgetable. It does it's job, but it doesn't really do much other than just be there. However, there are a few catchy numbers in the basic soundtrack.
Now, the real downside to Coded Arms is the control scheme. You might as well just forget about the default one because that path only leads to tears. If you choose the default, you'll be using the thumbpad as a means of movement and the action keys to look around. This will not do. A better option is the action keys for movement and the thumbpad for look, but it takes a little getting used to. This is probably the major reason that the FPS will stay firmly in the domain of the PC.
Other than a few glaring problems, Coded Arms isn't that bad of a game, it's just not spectacular either. So, what happens when you have an average game that gets hit with a few gameplay problems? It becomes a subpar game. It really is a shame too, because there was a lot of potential. Luckily for Konami, this is the first FPS for the PSP and it leaves quite a bit to build on and does prove that solid frame rate is possible with decent graphics on this platform.
Overall, other than a few nice points, Coded Arms falls well short of the mark. What could have been a great game is hampered by a frustrating control scheme and rather bland design. FPS fans are better off waiting to see if anything else comes down the pipe that will sate their bloodlust.