A number of games releasing very soon were on hand at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this year. I was able to play a number of them, and below is what I thought of each game. Enjoy!
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
This is the first Uncharted game I've played, so I can't compare the handheld little brother to the console brethren. I can say that the game looks incredible. It was the most visually stunning game on hand in the Vita section, and it controlled well as I shot at enemies and climbed around the sides of rocky areas like a Mankey. Yes, I meant Mankey, the Pokemon.
I can't count how many times I've yelled at my virtual player in a soccer game because he's taken a shot, but chosen a spot that is asinine, or just inaccurate compared to where my analog was pointing.
The PlayStation Vita's version of FIFA actually rectifies that.
You'd be forgiven for mistaking this for a PS3 version of the game.
You see, sports games can get better with new technology. But unlike bigger and better systems that can harness better physics and AI — though the PlayStation Vita is no slouch in the hardware department — handhelds nowadays go different routes as they add more and more pieces of technology to give different experiences.
Case in point: the Vita's rear multi touch pad.
In FIFA Soccer, players can shoot with a button, but they can also use the rear pad to shoot.
Imagine the pad as a soccer goal. Where you touch it and release at determines which part of the goal the shot is aimed at. A little goal pops up at the bottom of the screen where the pitch's map usually is to help with placing the shot. Holding the screen longer determines power.
The idea is as brilliant as a Lionel Messi goal.
One problem with the shooting mechanic, however, is that it takes time to get used to. When running clear on goal, with only the keeper to beat, I would find myself having to think about how I had to shoot. By the time that happened I was dispossessed by a defender, blocked by the keeper, or took a quick shot by randomly groping the touch screen.
That seems like something that can, and will, be overcome with more time spent with the game.
What won't be overcome is the accidental touching of the rear pad.
Too often I'd relax my hands and give the slightest of touches to it, only to suddenly wonder why my striker let out a speculative shot from 40 yards out. It's something that will be hard to avoid when getting into a good match, and could make the use of the rear pad too annoying.
Even with the gripes, Vita's game of FIFA offers something different that's fun to play, looks as good as its console brethren, and makes good use of the handheld's hardware.
The short demo of Gravity Rush didn't have me using any of the hardware features such as the cameras, touch screens, or gyro as much as the other titles — but it would be a day-one purchase for me if I were to get a Vita.
The demo started out with a mysterious girl looking for an even more mysterious black cat. Once found, the world seems to become a dream as you gain the ability to float and control gravity.
Switching gravity is essential to traversing the sides of buildings, (done so with the right bumper) which works smoothly. Zipping around this way is interesting, with the demo featuring exploration when trailing another girl with mysterious power, and battling airborne enemies.
What would coax me into buying it, however, is the presentation and story. Beautifully hand drawn close-ups are shown of the characters when they talk, and story cutscenes are presented like a comic — one that can be viewed at different angles by using the Vita's built-in gyro motion controls.
While I couldn't peg just exactly what was going on (I was as clueless as my heroine when the world went topsy-turvy and glowing red beasts attacked me), I couldn't help but dig its surreal vibe and anime inspired visuals.
If the story holds up, and the anti-gravity gameplay presents some unique situations, Gravity Rush could end up being a solid release window launch title.
Resistance: Burning Skies
I've played a number of first-person shooters (FPS) on the PlayStation Portable (PSP). They were a finger-hurting chore (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, anyone?), but it was still doable.
The use of two analogs on the Vita for first-person shooters is nearly flawless. The two analogs, though small, work perfectly and accurately. The only qualms I have is that to melée an enemy Chimera, you have to touch a button on the touch screen.
Grenades are also used this way, but it makes sense. Players can touch the button and drag their finger to where they want to fling the grenade.
Graphically the game could look a bit better — I wondered if old PSP FPS games looked this good — and wasn't wowed after playing this moments after Uncharted.
The game follows Lt. Tom Riley in the United States as he is thrust into battle with the aliens. There will be 3G and Wi-Fi enabled multiplayer, and the game is being developed by Nihilistic.
Twisted Metal is back, and as far as I can tell, it's just what fans remember and love. The vehicles seem to drive a lot better than in previous iterations, and the destructiveness is just as fun as ever.
I fooled around with multiplayer and Sweet Tooth, and found myself wanting to play until the Sony booth closed.
This is just a pretty game. Like Kellee Santiago (co-founder of developer thatgamecompany) said during our brief meeting at CES, some industry journalists have called Journey one of the actual new games of 2012.
What that really means is that this game is different. In a market saturated with me-too FPS games, Journey is different… And good.
Not that I knew why I was doing what I was doing. I just quietly wandered and glided through the desert with an online companion on an adventure, or journey, if you will. It was both relaxing and purposeful.
We were interacting with cloth, the only living thing in the world, and wandering even further into the desert as the cloth happily (if cloth can be happy, that is) flew around us.
The game ends with a darkened sky and feeling of forebodement to let players know that things aren't so happy in this desert.
This is the Vita game that I liked the least. It was fun, sure, but it was more of a tech demo. A collection of smaller games, Little Deviants is all about using the hardware in fun ways. One game I got to try out is just like the Nintendo 3DS game, Face Raiders. Players use the camera to find little ships flying around to shoot them down.
The other game uses the rear multi-touch pad and was actually quite unique. Touching the pad raises the ground and moves a ball around that needs to be guided by enemies and obstacles to a goal.
Having viewed all these games I have but one thing to say: I want to buy a Vita. It's a good, fun system, with good games coming out. The main problem is its price point. I also have some qualms with its me-too vibe it gives off having copied a little too much of Nintendo's 3DS handheld features (why rip off Face Raiders and have so many similar features?), but it's a fun system. While I wait for a price drop, I'll be playing some Twisted Metal.