Rather than write separate reviews for each title I’ve decided to write a round up of the titles that I’ve bought on the Vita since Launch, however, I won’t be covering Modnation Racers Road Trip or Motorstorm RC as they have been covered elsewhere on the site.
Within this text you’ll find reviews for; Escape Plan, Frobisher Says, Hustle Kings, Top Darts, Plants Vs Zombies and Super Stardust Delta.
So we’ll start with Escape Plan
This is an interesting puzzle title, you play as both L’il and Laarg, they are held captive by an unnamed antagonist who sends his minions out in an attempt to kill off the 2 main characters, aside from controlling your own characters, you are also tasked with removing the minions and in some cases manipulating sheep in your efforts to escape.
The game itself is controlled entirely by touch, with the camera being moved with the right stick, if you want L’il or Laarg to move, simply swipe the direction you want them to walk in, to stop them, tap the screen. The puzzles themselves are engaging and at points can involve the use of the built in sixaxis.
There are no lives to worry about during the game, the only reference to it being that the number on the main characters goes up with each death, this would only be a concern for those trophy lovers out there where there are trophies available for less than 20 deaths per character from start to finish.
Both L’il and Laarg have their own traits to bring to the party, L’il can move faster and can inflate himself with air vents, this allows him to fly and at this stage his movements are controlled by the sixaxis, he can also get a caffeine buzz which allows him to move forward at high speeds.
Laarg on the other hand is slower but is the muscle of the pair, he can be used to smash wooden doorways or floors to allow access to other parts of a level.
During the levels there are occasional cutscenes, this are in some cases story related and in others just a small intermission designed to put a smile on your face.
While it may not sound like much, Escape Plan is a charming game that like Portal, OMG-Z or Machinarium before it, should be played at least once just for the experience of it.
As you may gather from the title, Frobisher Says is a simple, digital version of the game Simon Says, there’s not really a lot you can say about it apart from that, it’s a collection of mini-games that use every feature of the Vita, this includes all forms of touch, the sixaxis, the buttons, the camera and even the microphone.
Graphically it’s not fantastic but as with Escape Plan, it’s also a charming title in that it obviously has a sense of humour (regardless of how childish it is) and there are some nice touches to it, such as a mini game where you are required to take your friends to a hot-tub, the game itself uses names from your PSN friends list and requires you to hunt them out, the majority of the mini-games can be cleared within seconds and your score is linked to the speed at which you complete tasks.
The control systems being used are very responsive and can really show off what the Vita can do, even down to facial recognition where you are required to smile or frown at images on the screen.
That being said it’s not a very compelling title, when it’s finally made available on the store it could be worth picking up if it’s priced correctly, but I wouldn’t recommend paying more than a fiver.
Well it’s a pool game, so not really a lot to say there, however if you’ve played and enjoyed the PS3 version you’d be in for a pleasant surprise, not only does the game look just as good as it’s big brother, but the control system has been revamped for the Vita, in a similar situation to Motorstorm RC, hustle Kings is actually more fun to play on the handheld. The other interesting thing is that if you don’t already own it and you buy it on the Vita, you get the PS3 version for free!
As well as the control changes, the career mode itself has had a complete overhaul, it’s now much more engaging and isn’t just a list of a few challenges to beat, now there are multiple clubs to play in with different games and skill levels.
This is also a title that has cross play, this means that you can play against your PS3 playing friends online in real time, having tested this, I can say that the system runs flawlessly, there is very little delay between a player taking a shot on either machine and the results being shown on the other, voice chat works well between the 2 as well with the Vita mic picking up very clearly for chatting or smack talk.
As well as real-time online gaming, there is also message gaming (on the Vita only) this allows 2 people to play against each other when it suits them, without both players needing to be online at the same time, player 1 takes his shot(s) and a message is sent to player 2, that message contains the information of the shot that was taken so player 2 can pick the game up and take his shot(s) at their convenience. This is a nice feature but can make for some very drawn out games, but it’s good to see that some thought has been put in for those of us that didn’t buy the 3g version of the Vita.
It’s difficult to review a standard darts game, you throw darts at a board and try to get out based on the type of game played. There’s not much more you can say. . .
Thankfully then, Top Darts is not a standard darts game, while it does have the above type of game, there are various other modes of play available, these include an alien invasion game where your “ship” is moved around the board depending on where you land a dart, your job is to keep your ship ahead of the alien invader who chases you around the board following the same movement rules. There’s also a few puzzle style games making the player hit certain points on the board to remove blocks etc.
As with Hustle Kings, the control system has been re-worked for the Vita and purchase of one version gets you the other for free, having said that though, the PS3 version is Move only and as a result may not be as big a selling point for those of you who aren’t keen on waggle controls.
Top Darts is a take it or leave it title, if you really like playing darts and feel the compulsion to play it on the move then go for it, otherwise you’re not really missing much and this game won’t set your world on fire.
Plants Vs Zombies
Chances are if you own one of any number of systems you’ve tried or at least heard of this game, for those of you who have been living under a rock here’s a brief outline.
Plants Vs Zombies is a tower defence game, in this case you are required to defend your house on the left of the screen, from the hordes of zombies attacking from the right and you do this by. . . planting flowers.
Not just any flowers mind you, you have the gun-like Pea-Shooter, the deadly Chomper or the blocking Wall-Nut.
Plants Vs Zombies is actually one of the better tower defence games out there, it has a great sense of humour with the various types of zombies, plants and messages on offer to the player.
The controls work very well on the Vita, with front-touch being used to place your plants and simply tilting the vita will collect any coins dropped or any Sunlight waiting to be collected (Sunlight being the required currency for putting down new plants).
Gameplay-wise there isn’t much more you can say about this genre that hasn’t been covered elsewhere, however there is also a large collection of mini-games that an be played, these include Wall-Nut bowling, Zombotany (Where the Zombies have Pea-Shooters for heads) and many more, the level of challenge goes up with each stage as new and tougher zombies are introduced or the playing field changes to include swimming pools that don’t allow plants, night levels where your plants are less effective or even fog, making it hard to see.
If you’re a fan of the Tower Defence genre you could do a lot worse than pick up Plants Vs Zombies, although considering its price, you may be better suited to pick it up on a PC or tablet device if you are able to. That being said, the cost of the Vita version really is the only negative I can put on the game, since it’s good fun while being challenging at the same time.
Super Stardust Delta
So here we have another game that has a big brother on the PS3, but as with the others already mentioned, Delta has been reworked to include various Vita features, both touch panels and sixaxis are used during gameplay for various options.
For those of you that haven’t played the original, this game is very much like a remake of the classic game “Asteroids”, you control a small ship and using your weapons you destroy various rocks and enemies that attack the surface of a planet. In this case your left stick controls the ships movement and the right stick fires your selected weapon, that’s right ladies and gents, Stardust Delta is a Vita Twin-Stick shooter!
The weapons have also have a bit of a touch up, but at the same time they’ve been limited compared to the original. In the original version of Stardust you had 3 guns, one for rocks, one for ice and one for chunks of lava, in Delta you only have the fire and ice guns. This actually makes the game a bit more enjoyable as you’re not constantly flicking between so many different weapon options. You still have your boost attack as well which allows your ship to blast forward tearing through anything in its path.
New to Delta however are the three weapons that are implemented using the Vita features, a tap to the front screen will launch a volley of missiles that destroy everything in a 360 radius, a tap on the back of the machine opens a black hole which sucks in the majority of items on the screen and finally shaking the Vita fires off a pulse mine that destroys all items in your immediate surroundings.
These new weapons add a further level of strategy to the game and can also save your ship in a tight spot and you’ll need them when you go against the new enemy ships and bosses in the game.
Another new feature is the look around option, in this case tilting the Vita will allow the player to see further around the planet and get an idea of what is coming their way.
The Vita features don’t end there either; there are a host of mini-games to play using the unique Vita features, these include Rock crushing (Tap the front and back of the Vita to smash rocks), a touch screen game where you control an enemy ship by dragging your finger across the screen, a tilt option, this allows you to play through the main game using the left stick for one gun, the right stick for the other and tilting the Vita to move and others which are unlocked by playing through the main arcade mode.
Overall, this game feels the most polished of all the PS3 “ports” and will give hours of enjoyment to anyone who loved the original.