Twelve PS Vita Games You MUST Play
What did you get for Christmas? If the answer is anything other than, “well, I’m glad you asked, Mr. Reece! I received a brand new PlayStation Vita!” then I sincerely have to wonder why you haven’t invested in Sony’s powerhouse portable yet. With the number of great games available growing by the week, the excellent remote play functionality that allows you to continue playing your PS4 games after your wife/husband/housemate/parents boot you off the TV,Â price drops on the console itself (along with those oft-maligned proprietary memory cards) having taken effect and with some excellently priced value bundles doing the rounds, there’s never been a better time to take the plunge and kick your portable gaming up a notch.
And I’m here to give you twelve good reasons why the Vita is the handheld console to own. So if you did receive a Vita for Christmas, you’re still on the fence about making the investment or you already own one, here are the games you need to play. Note that all twelve of the games below can be either purchased as retail copies or via the PSN store.
Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation
Taking place in New Orleans between 1765 and 1777, Assassinâ€™s Creed III: Liberation introduces players to Aveline de GramprÃ©, daughter to a freed slave and a French aristocrat and also the series’ first female protagonist. If you’ve played an Assassinâ€™s Creed game before, you’ll pretty much know what to expect, but Liberation shakes up proceedings by adding in personas. Aveline is able to don different outfits – assassin, slave and lady – that each grant her unique abilities and differing levels of social acceptance. The framerate takes a dip a little too often, but Liberation is otherwise everything you’d want from a portable Assassinâ€™s Creed and looks lovely to boot. Kudos should also be given to Ubisoft for bringing an original game in the franchise to Vita instead of merely porting over an existing one.
LittleBigPlanet: PS Vita
The team at Media Molecule have received much praise for the work on LittleBigPlanet and LittleBigPlanet 2 on PS3 and while they had no direct involvement in LittleBigPlanet: PS Vita, there’s absolutely nothing about this instalment that suggests otherwise. Developed by Double Eleven, Tarsier Studios and Sony XDev Europe, LittleBigPlanet: PS Vita delivers the same charming 2D exploits as its home console big brothers, adding in a wealth of gameplay mechanics that take advantage of the Vita’s extra bells and whistles. The front touch screen and rear touch pad are to used to manipulate the environment to great effect and also double up as a far more intuitive way in which to create your own levels and share them with the world.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
Since the launch of the PS3, Sucker Punch abandoned Sly Cooper and instesd opted to focus on Cole MacGrath’s electrifying adventures in inFAMOUS. Luckily, eight whole years after the release of Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, Sanzaru Games stepped in and brought Sly back with a bang. Thieves in Time sees Sly, Bentley and Murray visiting various time periods whike on a mission to repair theÂ Thievius Raccoonus – the book that chronicles the Cooper family history along with their thievery methods that are passed down through the generations – after a time travelling villain causes its pages to be wiped. Joining the gang in their endeavour are five of Sly’s ancestors, each with their own unique movesets, making Thieves in Time the most jam packed and varied of the thieving raccoon’s stealth-platforming adventures to date.
We move now from 3D platforming to the 2D variety. Rayman Origins was a breath of fresh air when it released in 2011 amidst the usual onslaught of first person shooters and annualised sports games. After years of being relegated to second fiddle while the Rabbids spin-offs were stealing his thunder, Origins saw Rayman once again take centre stage in the most beautiful 2D platformer ever made. Rayman Legends builds upon the foundations laid down by Origins, boasting the same beautifully stylised hand-painted look and pinpoint accurate platforming action as its predecessor, only this time with a boatload of new levels, playable characters and collectables to find. The fact that Legends includes around forty of the levels from Origins on top of its sixty-plus original stages is the icing on the cake. If you like 2D platformers, Rayman Legends is a game you need in your life.
Take either the Dwarf, Fighter, Amazon, Elf, Wizard or Sorceress through a fantastical fifteen hour quest to prevent the Ancient Dragon from destroying Hydeland in Dragon’s Crown. Best described as “Golden Axe meets Dungeons and Dragons“, this gorgeous side-scrolling RPG from Atlus and Vanillaware offers a stiff challenge from the outset that only ramps up in difficulty the more times you play through it. With a variety of side-quests to tackle, randomised loot to acquire along the way and with each of the six character classes playing totally different to the rest, Dragon’s Crown oozes replayability beyond the escalating difficulty level. Grab three friends to take along on your adventure – on either Vita or PS3, thanks to CrossPlay support – and you’re in for a real treat.
Capcom’s popular Monster Hunter series has yet to grace the Vita with its presence. Until that day arrives, Soul Sacrifice is here to satiate your monster-slaying, action RPG hunger. Coming from the mind of Keiji Inafune – best known for creating Mega Man – Soul Sacrifice places you in the shoes of an unnamed captive of Magusar, an evil, all-powerful sorcerer who remains immortal by absorbing the souls of human sacrifices. With the aid of a possessed book, you’ll relive the memories of one of Magusar’s previous sorcerer companions until you’ve amassed enough power of your own to confront him and end his reign of terror. A myriad of spells enable you to tailor your character to your own playing style or tinker with your arsenal to best suit whichever monstrosity you’re taking on next. Soul Sacrifice is huge, supports up to four players, boasts a unique art style and vibe all of its own and contains some of the most monstrous and ugliest bosses you’ve ever seen.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Naughty Dog’s trilogy of third-person action-adventure games have made series protagonist Nathan Drake both the poster child of the PS3 and my personal man-crush. However, with their hands full supporting Uncharted 3‘s multiplayer and developing The Last of Us, the studio handed the reigns over to Sony Bend for the Vita iteration. Luckily, Bend had enough prior experience dealing with the franchises of other studios to make Uncharted: Golden Abyss the shining jewel in the Vita’s crown when the handheld launched, crafting a stellar portable entry for the popular and well received series. The story may cut the globe-trotting to a bare minimum and the visuals – while still hugely impressive – are more Drake’s Fortune than Drake’s Deception, but Golden Abyss offers up all of the solid shooting and precarious platforming that Uncharted is famed for, now in the palm of your hands.
I reviewed Killzone: Mercenary a short while ago, calling it “an exceptionally well crafted, twin analogue stick first person shooter with ridiculously high production values and an online multiplayer mode that rivals even its home console counterparts”, and I stand by this sentiment. Killzone: Mercenary is a stunning game that puts previous first person shooters on the Vita to absolute shame, presenting players with precise controls, an arsenal of weapons and gadgets to toy around with and the most robust multiplayer suite of any portable shooter ever. To shamelessly quote myself again: “if you’re into FPS’s and you own a Vita, you definitely need this game.”
An open world adventure game, Gravity Rush tells the story of amnesiac Kat and her feline companion Dusty, who bestows his newfound friend with gravity altering powers, allowing her to fly, walk on walls and ceilings, lift and throw objects and unleash a bevy of devastating attacks. Together they embark on a journey to piece together Kat’s lost memories while simultaneously attempting to protect the citizens of the floating town of Hekseville from an impending gravity storm and the evil creatures, named Nevi, that have mysteriously appeared along with it. Supplementing the generously lengthy main storyline are a wealth of side missions, combat challenges and time trials to partake in, as well as huge and challenging optional Nevi creatures to hunt down and defeat. The narrative is both humorous and heartwarming and the luscious cel-shaded visuals makeÂ Hekseville an absolute joy to explore.
Tearaway represents everything that makes the Vita such an amazing handheld, marrying together a distinct paper craft aesthetic with ingenious use of every control input the Vita has at its disposal. The tale of a messenger boy named Iota (or Atoi, if you choose to play as a girl) is presented with such charm, playfulness and imagination and as a result Tearaway is almost impossible to put down. Whether you’re seemingly thrusting your fingers through the rear touch pad to clear or create a path for Iota to progress, decking out NPC’s with cool outfits you’ve created yourself or hunting down every last collectable and optional activity, Media Molecule’s debut Vita title is more than just a 3D platformer; it’s a game that flawlessly and effortlessly showcases the sheer creativity that the development team possesses and is without a shadow of a doubt the Vita’s very best exclusive.
Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward
Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward is the sequel to the DS sleeper hit 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, retaining the same mixture of puzzle solving and story-altering choices. Kidnapped by a mysterious figure who refers to himself as Zero III (and presents himself on a computer monitor as a talking rabbit), you play as Sigma, who along with eight other seemingly unrelated individuals finds himself imprisoned in a warehouse as an unwilling participant in the Nonary Game. Based around Bracelet Points, this sadistic game forces the captives to escape from a series of locked rooms before awarding or subtracting points depending on whether they choose to ally with or betray the other participants. If a player’s BP reaches nine or more, they’re free to leave; however, if their BP reaches zero, the bracelet stuck on his or her wrist injects them with poison and they die.
Virtue’s Last Reward features a multitude of endings, but only by utilising Sigma’s newfound ability to send his memory back and forth through time will you eventually unravel the truth behind the Nonary Game and reach its mind-melting climax. If the industry stalwarts of shooters and racers are starting to grate on you, this visual novel offers an eclectic and interesting cast of characters, fiendish puzzles to solve and a gripping (if slightly convoluted) forty-hour narrative.
Persona 4: Golden
Persona 4: Golden is my absolute favourite Vita game to date; in fact, if Sonic 3 & Knuckles for the Genesis didn’t exist, it’d be my favourite game ever. A remastering of the PS2 JRPG Persona 4, this definitive edition of the fourth entry in the MegamiTensei spinoff series packs a sixty-hour story, new characters and new side-quests onto a game card so small you could quite easily swallow it. Part turn-based RPG, part high school life similator, you play through a year in the life of a boy who moves to a sleepy rural town to stay with his uncle and cousin. But finding his way around and making new friends turn out to be the least of his troubles when a string of murders and an unlikely series of events see him and his friends thrust into a world within the TV and able to call upon their inner selves, powerful beings named Personas.
Your main character is able to call on an unlimited number of these Personas and by training them up in battles against the shadows of the TV world and fusing them together, you’ll be able to construct varied and powerful teams of these mighty manifestations. It’s not all dungeon crawling and turn-based battling though; Persona 4: Golden also requires you to form, maintain and solidify relationships with the supporting cast – which in turn powers up their respective Personas and allows you to create super buffed Personas of your own – as well as do your homework, attend various classes in school and take on part time jobs and other extracurricular activities that boost your social attributes, in turn giving you more options during conversations and further events in the game.
Persona 4: Golden is an almost immeasurably vast JRPG that continues to impress right through to its conclusion. Its battle system is deep and offers seemingly infinite possibilities for team customisation, its life sim elements have a real impact on how well you perform in battle and its story is hilarious, gut-wrenching, heartwarming and melancholy in equal measures. It’s even completely unafraid to tackle some more sensitive issues rarely touched upon in videogames, such as homosexuality and gender confusion.
Every game on the list is a must play in my opinion, but if you only play one Vita game in your entire life, make sure it’s Persona 4: Golden.