on 02-12-2011 07:38 PM - last edited on 05-12-2011 03:25 PM by Envisager
Last week I traveled down the PlayStation Access 'Vita Rooms' event in London. This was my first chance to finally get my hands on the PlayStation Vita and see for myself if Sony's new handheld really is like a PS3 in your pocket.
There were loads of games on-show and I'll go into some of them in more detail with the videos below. Many of them were franchises that we're already familiar with - ModNation Racers, Uncharted, LittleBigPlanet, Wipeout - but there were also some fantastic original titles like the adorably dark Escape Plan. Something they all share and that I was relived to see, is that they know what the Vita's strengths are and use them in clever and, more importantly, intuitive ways.
The main concern I had for the PlayStation Vita was that there's so much to it, so many ways to interact with the device, that game developers would feel the need to use all of it, all the time. That's clearly not the case. Some titles - the ones where it makes sense - use the touch screen almost exclusively, while others employ more traditional controls, using the front and rear touch panels only for brief interactions.
LittleBigPlanet was a stand-out example of how tactile buttons and touch can be used together. I go into this in more depth in my LittleBigPlanet Vita Hands-on.
Another worry that was put to rest as soon as I picked-up the console for the first time was, "is it worth it?". There's no two ways about it: at £270 for a Wifi-only model with the obligatory memory card, the PlayStation Vita isn't cheap, but as soon as I held it I didn't care. The Vita is expensive but it also feels expensive. The build quality is solid and that mysterious, 1980's Volvo dashboard-feeling plastic that Nintendo always manage to find, is nowhere to be seen here. My freakishly big chimpanzee hands weren't an issue either and even after playing with the Vita for a few hours my thumbs were still up for more.
And with all that out of the way, we get onto the main reason I'll be queueing-up for a Vita on launch day. The only thing that really matters: The games...
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Uncharted has to be the most technically impressive game on PlayStation Vita. Everything that makes the PlayStation 3 games look and sound incredible is there in Golden Abyss; The realistic lighting, the subtleties in the character animations, the voice acting and sound design (which unfortunately you can't hear in the video). At one point Drake asks, "Why's the building on fire?" to which I replied, "Because it looks awesome, that's why!" In reality I'm sure there is some narrative justification for Nate finding himself (yet again) in a blazing inferno but I didn't pick that up in the demo.
Like many Vita games, Golden Abyss makes use of touch to compensate for the two missing shoulder buttons. Here, you can see a slider appear on the right of the screen to zoom a sniper rifle scope. There's also the controversial "ledge painting" which allows you to drag your finger along platforms that you want Nate to climb. It works well for those who want to use it, but I always found myself reverting back to button presses.
Super Stardust Delta
Four years on, Super Stardust HD is still one of the best games on the PlayStation Network and Housemarque are bringing the beloved game to PlayStation Vita for launch. Super Stardust Delta is even better than it's PSN brother with tonnes of new features, power-ups, enemies. For example, you can summon a black hole at a tap of rear touch panel which sucks every unsuspecting enemy and asteroid on the planet (and you, if you're not careful) into oblivion.
Everybody's Golf 6
I've never really gotten into the Everybody's Golf series. The franchise seems to have a really die hard following but it just never really appealed to me for some reason. Maybe the as-yet unnamed Vita title will be the one to grab me. If even an ounce of lord of the boards, Envisiger's enthusiasm for the series rubs off on me then I'm sure to be hooked. Here, the PlayStation UK Community Team Leader plays a few holes and shows off the really cool (if utterly pointless) augmented reality features.
Escape Plan is a quirky little puzzle game from one of the studios behind Fat Princess, Fun Bits Interactive. I'm as sucker for art styles like this - the monochrome palette, the soft focus, the surprisingly gruesome deaths - so it'll come as no surprise that I've fallen in love with Escape Plan during the short time I had with it. The goal of each of the early levels I played was to help the game's two characters, Lil and Laarg, escape from a booby-trapped room. It starts out simple with basic swipes of the screen to tell the character which way to go, but it soon gets a lot more complicated.
Each of the two characters has unique abilities and you must use them together to succeed. For example, you can feed Lil coffee to get him hyped-up, then pinch the Vita from both sides and pull to make him dart quickly across a gap. In the few levels I played there was a host of obstacles to contend with. These range from a simple brick lying on the floor which you need to flick out of the way to stop the character tripping over and spilling his brains all over the floor, to giant steel plates that swing down from the ceiling without warning.
That's it for this round of PlayStation Access. There are more events planned for the new year and I'll working double shifts at work until then to make sure I've got enough leave to make it to then.
What do you think of the PlayStation Vita's line-up? What games are you looking-forward to? Let me know in the comments below.
This article was cross-posted to Rocket Cheetah.com
05-12-2011 03:55 PM - edited 05-12-2011 04:17 PM
Fabulous write-up Chimp!
I completely agree that no matter how gorgeous it is – and there's no denying the PSVita is a gorgeous bit of kit, for all that it's currently considerably more expensive than a PS3 – the games are the only thing that matters. Hell, I held off buying a PS3 for ages because I wasn't that interested in most of the games that were available in its early days.
Not so with the Vita. I count LittleBigPlanet, Hustle Kings and Everybody's Golf among my favourites on PS3 and PSP, and these three franchises make up
three two of the launch titles and another high profile out-soon (we hope)! So I'm sold, right from the very beginning. Plus, I'm sorely tempted by WipeOut 2048 and ModNation Racers, intrigued by Gravity Daze and Escape Plan, and even though Uncharted isn't really my kind of game, it was still very, very impressive. February's going to be an expensive month for me.
I put my own thoughts on the PSV in more detail in another thread.
[Edit: realised LBP wasn't a launch title. But my goodness, it has incredible potential to replace all those App games that you're missing fro a typical Android phone...]
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