First Impressions – PS Vita Launch Titles

Anyone who follows @PS3Nation on Twitter, or listens to the podcast knows that I grabbed a PlayStation Vita from Japan. While I had my Japanese account on the Vita, I was able to check out some demos from the Japanese PSN Store, but really the only games I had were Ridge Racer and Uncharted: Golden Abyss.
(Review for the Japanese version of Uncharted: Golden Abyss can be found here- (Review)

As it stands right now, Ridge Racer is pretty bad. As a Ridge Racer fan, this is incredibly disappointing. The framerate is all over the place, and even though it’s cheaper than normal because it’s essentially built for DLC, what you end-up buying (talking about the Japanese version here) is a bit more than a demo, with only 3 tracks and a couple of available cars. The reason that you will not see a full report on this game though is twofold. First, the US launch details aren’t known, and the rumor is that the game is supposed to be patched, either pre-launch right in the package or via download, and Second, it’s not a launch title.

The intention of this article is to give you some honest First Impressions of everything that I have played on the Vita up to this point. I have put at least one hour into everything here, and to say that I’m impressed is an incredible understatement.

First-off, EVERYONE is asking about file sizes for games. All I can tell you is what’s currently available on the PSN. Uncharted is around 3.53GB from what I’ve heard. The rest, well I let you see for yourself.

I have an 8GB memory card right now. I have a few videos, and around 20 songs loaded. Even with that stuff, I have all of the launch games minus Uncharted installed on my card, along with screenshots and other pictures, this also includes 3 Turbografx 16 games and Patapon 2 for the PSP. With all of that, I still have 1187MB free. Of course, I’ll be receiving my 32GB memory card on Monday, because having as much as possible right on the system is my preference.

So let’s get to it, let’s talk about some GAMES!!

Title: Super Stardust Delta
Format: PSN Download
Price: $9.99 (PSN Only)
I’m a Super Stardust addict, and I’m proud to say that. Super Stardust HD is still one of my favorite PSN games, and back when it was released, if I had a spare 5 minutes I would definitely be playing it. I always liked the PSP version, but the controls were a bit unorthodox for me, so I ended-up not playing it as much as I’d have liked to. Finally my prayers have been answered with Delta.

Not simply some port of what we’ve seen in the past, Housemarque has designed this game specifically for the Vita, and honestly, I’m still learning the new system. Your weapons choice is now down to two, with only the Fire and Ice weapons at your disposal. This alone changes the way the game attacks you, with a lot more switching between them during a single round. But what’s now been included far outweighs the lack of the Rock Crusher. First is the weapon that I keep setting-off by accident with my numb hand. Simply tap the rear touch panel to set-off a massive black hole weapon that sucks everything in (except for you of course.) I haven’t learned how that affects scoring yet, but it can be a life saver. You can also tap the screen to set-off a huge blossom of missiles that home-in on any enemies in your vicinity. Lastly, shake the screen to trigger an earthquake-like weapon to easily get you out of trouble.

I really love this game, and I can’t wait to devote some major time to it. It’s an entirely new scoring system, with multipliers being picked-up instead of merely earned. The main experience is similar enough to make veterans comfortable, but with all new bosses and the fact that enemies are tied more directly to weapon types, it seems that Housemark is using some of the mechanics they developed in Outland for this one.

Title: EA Sports FIFA Soccer
Format: Game Card
Price: $39.99
Even though I’m not too into Soccer, and I don’t even understand some of the rules, I’ve occasionally enjoyed some Soccer games on consoles. When the Vita game arrived, even though Josh is doing the full review, I still had to check it out for myself, and man am I impressed! With an impressive list of features, this is a full console experience with a bunch of Vita control features included. The graphics are detailed and colorful, with an amazing attention to detail.

The Vita-specific control options are just that, options. You can completely play FIFA with the traditional controls, but I have to say that shooting at the goal using the rear touchpad is great! It makes total sense and helps quite a bit while you’re trying to control everything on your breakaway to the net. There are also touchscreen controls, including being able to choose a defender by simply touching him. With full online head-to-head, and from what I can tell, all of the additional features that are in the PS3 version, this is the perfect game for Footy fans.

Title: Wipeout 2048
Format: PSN Download
Price: $35.99
This is the game that you’ll boot-up when you want to show what the Vita is capable of for sure. As one of the longest running franchises on the PlayStation, a lot of people probably have an idea of what to expect. This time it’s 2048, at the very start of hover racing. The 10 tracks are actually built in very familiar cityscapes, and I think for the first time, you’ll actually race over grass when going through parks and neighborhoods. The load-times when getting into an event are a bit long, but at least it gives you an indicator to show how long it’ll take. It’s not a big deal, but it can get a bit annoying.

The action is a smooth and constant 60FPS, and it never falters. Visuals are silky smooth and detailed, and the tracks are wider with multiple paths, making the action even more visceral and exciting. The game is really amazing, but my old=man reflexes have definitely affected my skills. A huge feature is that not only can you play online, but you can also play against people on the PS3 version of the game, up to 8 players no matter which console everyone is on. The formula is tried-and-true, and the game plays better than ever.
ps, try the motion controls, they’re scary-accurate

Title: ModNation Racers: Road Trip
Format: PSN Download
Price: $35.99
I’m a sucker for a good Kart racer, and I’ve always been a fan of this series. Road Trip was built from the ground-up for the Vita, and on the way, the game has evolved in many good ways. The single-player is based on Tours of 5 races each, and after the first five tours are finished, a sixth opens up. One welcome aspect of the Tour system is that you don’t have to finish 1st in every single race to move on. Instead, you need to accumulate a certain amount of points per tour to keep advancing. So now if you have that one race that you just can’t win, you’re not stuck. The track designs are fantastic in this one, and the controls have all been tightened-up, including being able to use the brakes to tweak drifting. It’s also much more liberal when earning boost, so you’ll have a lot less opportunity to have something in reserve to bring your shields up.

Now, while there has been a huge outcry for the lack of actual online play, the team has taken a different approach that I think people could really latch-on to. Using an approach of asynchronous multiplayer, when you set a record or just have a great race, you can load your player data up to the servers, and directly challenge people on your friends list. Your friends can grab that data and race you, giving the opportunity to re-challenge your friends. It’s an interesting concept, and the fact that they’re counting on the fact that people are probably on their portable system less than on the PS3, this mechanic may actually work better than trying to get all of the players together at one time to race. I like the idea, but I’m still not sure that it’ll get acceptance from the gamers. If they do though, it’s gonna be cool. There’s a ton more in terms of community support that I’ll get into in my full review, but don’t remember one of the coolest features, the fact that anything uploaded to the servers on the PS3 is directly available on Day 1 on the Vita version.

Track creation is an absolute snap now, with the se of the front and rear touch panels. Even I, who can’t even draw a stick man, uploaded a track to the servers. The creation tools use the touch controls incredibly well, and I tell ya, I’m impressed. The game itself is familiar for fans of the series. Textures and effects look sweet on the OLED screen, and you’ll notice immediately that the controls are much sweeter than in the previous games. Also, it took a few races, and there is still some rubber-banding, but it’s MUCH more fair than the PS3 game. Every now and then, the framerate will drop a bit, but it never takes you out of the game. The new Element-based weapons are a lot of fun, especially in stage 3. I’ll definitely cover this more in the full review.

Title: Hot Shots Golf World Invitational
Format: PSN Download
Price: $35.99
This was my most anticipated Vita title, and to think of how many hours I’ve spent on this series, it would be staggering. It’s going to be very difficult to not turn this into a review, so I’ll be intentionally brief. I’ve long said that HSG: Open Tee 2 on the PSP was actually the best in the series, even over the PS3 version. Open Tee 2 did just about everything right, with an awesome progression system and a difficulty that ramps-up butter smooth. World Invitational, refreshingly so, is based on Open Tee 2, and improves on it in every way that I’ve seen so far. Beside Uncharted, this is the game that I have spent the biggest amount of time on so far.

Visuals are great, load times are essentially non-existent after the initial course load, and the amount of choice given in better than in any other in this series. If you’re not a fan of the swing system, you’ll have the opportunity to unlock different types, giving you 5 different swing systems to choose from eventually. 5! The courses are wonderful and challenging, and really span a huge spectrum of locations and types, But the best part of all is that this game is wonderfully familiar, and fans of the series will feel right at home.

Online isn’t working yet in the US, but I’m excited to try it out. Available is full online head-to-head, and scheduled tournaments daily. So far, this definitely is the best Hot Shots in the series, and that’s a tough thing to do in my opinion.

Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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