Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Spiral House | XDEV
Why can the dogs talk?!!
I can't get my head around it. Grooming, petting and feeding virtual pets may be a fun and surprisingly engrossing pastime, but not when they can speak back to you in jarring American accents. Cute and cuddly puppies become uncanny hybrid monsters that are as unsettling as their voice acting is obnoxiously preppy. In a cartoon, it'd be adorable. With realistic graphics, adult voices and unnatural facial expressions, it's plain weird.
Is it okay to own another sentient being? Are they fine with me petting them? How can they possibly be happy with this situation? I freely admit that I'm overthinking like a blithering pedant who's two decades older than the intended target audience, but Spiral House score an own goal from the off and alienate animal lovers in the process. I'd say "screwed the pooch," but that adage becomes doubly inappropriate when the pooches can talk.
Mind you, this is just one of several ways in which PlayStation Vita Pets strives to be very different from NintenDogs and other casual pet simulators. The most important differentiator being... wait for it... an actual campaign.Click here to read more...
Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Iron Galaxy Studios
Publisher: 2K Games
Borderlands 2 is probably the most impressive handheld game I've ever played. How could it not be? It's Borderlands 2!
Not a limp little spin-off or tatty tie-in: Borderlands 2 in its entirety. Every mission, every bandit, every ridiculous procedurally-generated gun, loads of DLC, all of it. Beyond a graphical downgrade, two-player cooperative cap and a few controls remapped to the rear touch pad, this is nothing less than the full PS3 version, even allowing you to transfer save files and Badass Ranks between the two platforms.
And that's a problem. Handheld games need to be designed and optimised specifically for their platform, but Iron Galaxy were locked into delivering an identical port, meaning that they had to find some corners to cut along the way. Many of which can make Borderlands 2's portable version as disappointing as it is astonishing.
Click here to read more...
Platform: PS Vita (PSN, £23.99)
Reviewing Soul Sacrifice Delta is like getting back with an ex. We were so good together during our intense love affair last year, even if things eventually fizzled after a few heady months. For the life of me I can't remember why we split up in the first place.
We've fallen straight back into our old routine: killing monsters in compact arenas with a diverse selection of spells and abilities. Soul Sacrifice condenses the monster hunting gameplay of... well, Monster Hunter... into a more straightforward and muscular format, with pick-up-and-play brawls against hordes of demonic fiends and enormous bosses; each boasting their own unique attacks, themes and tragic backstories. It's a compelling mix of twitchy hack & slash action with a focus on ranged spells and summons, constantly challenging players to make tough choices in the heat of battle as foes press the advantage.
Do you sacrifice an enemy to gain more spell power? Do you sacrifice your own skin for more damage? Will you sacrifice your friends to win a tough engagement? The core remains the same mix of punishment and progression, constantly evolving your playstyle, tweaking builds, crushing through a wealth of content and eventually becoming powerful enough to beat the final adversary, and we get along just as well as when when Brendan reviewed it last May.
Seriously, though, why did we split up? It must have been important. I'm sure it'll come to me as I lie in this filthy maggot-encrusted cage.Click here to read more...
Platform: PS Vita (PSN)
Murasaki Baby is terrifying.
In fact, "deeply unsettling" might be more appropriate. This odd Vita exclusive sees you guiding an adorable teetering tot through puzzly levels as she clings onto her favourite balloon, but everything is... wrong. Horribly distorted tentacle-nosed freaks lurk within the nightmarish backgrounds, hiding nearly out of shot. Atonal scraping sends shivers up your spine as our baby staggers across atrocious hellscapes or twisted uncanny interiors past things you'd rather not look at directly. Then reveals that she has an enormous toothy maw in the top of her head.
Underneath the weirdness, however, lurks a fascinating little game that's designed to hold your hand in a very literal way, while showing off the Vita's wild array of input methods.
If you can imagine a touchscreen blend of Ico, Limbo and Frobisher Says... perhaps directed by David Firth (yes, the Salad Fingers guy)... you might be somewhere near the mark.Click here to read more...
The PlayStation Vita received short shrift last year, especially here in Europe. A tiny handful of big hitters aside, Sony's handheld rarely found its way into our sweaty palms, completely outgunned and outgamed by the 3DS in ascendancy.
But 2014 could well reverse the Vita's fortunes. Over the last few months, Sony and third party partners have been bringing a huge number of fantastic localised titles to British shores, alongside some fantastic indie gems and cross-platform games, culminating in the announcement that three major Japanese releases are also headed West.
More than just a niche proposition, handheld gamers are going to have a lot to love this year - and so many reasons to keep Sony's portable powerhouse to hand.Click here to read more...
Developer: Magenta Software
When I was a lad, you'd find me dogfighting in Frontier Elite or hunting down Superfrog's trickier Easter eggs. We thrived on challenge as children and nothing has changed, because these days kids eat Ender Dragons for breakfast and noscope headshots for dessert. They certainly know that red barrels are likely to explode or that coloured tiles will unlock something when you step on them, but Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom has no respect for its young target audience. It painstakingly explains every primitive and dated mechanic, convinced that its players are brain-dead drones who mustn't be allowed to think for themselves.
Still, if you are a brain-dead drone, you might get some enjoyment out of this criminally generic and dull little platformer.
We're deep in shovelware territory here. Tasked with bringing the Invizimals franchise to the PS3, Magenta Software decided that Augmented Reality sounded like hard work, so decided to deliver a by-the-numbers platformer instead. Presumably because it was a Friday afternoon. We step into the DayGlo jacket of Hiro, a young boy exploring the digital realm of the Invizimals for the first time, whose ability to transform into sixteen of the critters has potential for interesting gameplay.Click here to read more...
Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Novarama Technology
Invizimals wants to be Pokemon with augmented reality, real-time battles and Brian Blessed.
High concept formulas don't get any better than that, do they? Pokemon provides the addictive core of catching, training and battling some cool critters, brought to full 3D life by the Vita's processing power. Augmented Reality uses the cameras to merge the game world with our own, letting players discover creatures in the playground or office and throw down on the bus home. And Brian Blessed is a national treasure with an amazing beard. As such Invizimals: The Alliance ought to be the best game ever made, and at the very worst it's exactly the sort of mainstream family-friendly franchise the Vita needs right now.
And yet Novarama found a way to cock it up. They've over-developed it to within an inch of its life; drowning a strong and simple idea in a hot mess of obnoxious minigames.
Then added insult to injury by forcing us to dig out AR Cards every five seconds.Click here to read more...
Sony has released a new Killzone: Shadow Fall trailer showing off the PS4 launch title's multiplayer modes, which will include ten maps at launch. DLC maps will be provided free to all players, though extra paid DLC and a season pass will help to bring in some post-launch moolah.
By the looks of things, we can expect a satisfyingly chaotic multiplayer experience with the series' trademark weighty feel, plus a range of exciting new boomsticks. Shadow Fall releases alongside the PS4 on November 29th.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PS Vita
Developer: Guerilla Cambridge
The Vita's second thumbstick has been crying out for a decent first-person shooter, and some of gaming's biggest franchises have been queuing up to trip over and embarrass themselves in spectacular style. Resistance: Burning Skies burned us, whereas Black Ops: Declassified should have remained classified forever. If not sealed in a lead-lined concrete tomb for all eternity to stop it hurting anyone ever again. All eyes were on Guerilla Cambridge, then, who promised to finally fulfil the Vita's potential with a no-compromise portable FPS.
I'm delighted to report that they've succeeded in their mission, at least after a fashion. Killzone: Mercenary absolutely delivers the same big-budget military shooting experience we've experienced on consoles for years on a handheld format. Almost exactly the same, for better and worse.
As ridiculously named gun-for-hire Arran Danner, a silent non-entity who should have just been given a callsign to let players fully read themselves into the character (seriously developers, get a clue), you're thrown into a selection of missions set during the events of Killzone and Killzone 2. While the brave boy scouts of the ISA defend Vekta and storm the Helghan beaches, Danner and crew fight a dirty guerilla war behind the scenes, causing havoc behind enemy lines at the behest of a grimly amoral general. Though fragmented and a little on the flimsy side, the storyline makes an interesting diversion later on that gives fans an unexpected new perspective on the war.Click here to read more...
Gaikai is set to deliver instant games streaming on PS4 from early 2014... in the US. However, us Eurotrash will have to wait for our Broadband service providers to catch up.Click here to read more...
Platform: PS Vita (PSN, £7.99)
Developer: Vivid Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Real Boxing became an overnight success on iOS and Android. Despite a few aggravating bugs, Vivid Games delivered an immediately accessible and brutally fun take on boxing with surprisingly deep character progression, all for a inexpensive price.
A few months on and Real Boxing has found its way to the PlayStation Vita with support from Sony's indie headhunters, boasting markedly improved visuals and extra content. This is great news for boxing fans, but the question remains, why should you spend £7.99 on the PlayStation Network rather than £2.99 on your tablet or smartphone?
Luckily this question has a simple answer: because this is the definitive version. Real Boxing Vita is unquestionably a game as opposed to a time-wasting app, due in no small part to an entirely rebuilt control scheme that lets you freely move around the ring and line up that perfect punch. It feels like an entirely new title.
Click here to read more...
Platforms: PS Vita
Developer: Guerilla Cambridge
The Vita's second thumbstick has been crying out for a truly great handheld first person shooter, but so far, even the biggest franchises have stuttered and choked. Resistance: Burning Skies ended up wasting its licence on a lacklustre tech demo, while the abominable Black Ops: Declassified was utterly awful in every conceivable way. Indeed, opening the box released swarms of biting insects and clouds of noxious gas that set off the office smoke alarm. I sometimes catch my Vita's analogue nubbin crying itself to sleep at night; alone and desperate for a game to keep it company.
Killzone: Mercenary wants to change all that.
This full fat shooter aims to deliver a triple-A quality FPS experience on Sony's handheld. Promising expansive levels, exhilarating combat, impressive visuals and a copious shedload of guns and gadgets to support multiple play styles, Vita fans have been getting excited about this ambitious franchise tie-in. Now that I've bloodied myself on its singleplayer campaign, I can report that their excitement is probably justified. Whether you want to blast through the Helghan hordes or stealthily thin their ranks, Killzone: Mercenary has you covered, and rewards you with plenty of hard-earned cash in the process.
Click here to read more...
No pressure, but many are looking to Soul Sacrifice as some sort of PS Vita messiah. Brilliantly, you don't have to take my word for whether this Monster Huntery, Dark Soulsy action game will deliver or not, since there's a massive demo on the PlayStation Network. Expect talking books, an unpleasant gothic vibe but very pleasant magical combat.
Tesco Direct are rocking a fairly impressive saving (just under £5 by my reckoning) thanks to their TDX-KPWM voucher code.
Oh man. Playstaton Vita is getting added to Playstation Plus, officially making it even better value for money...which is difficult, because it was already pretty damn good to begin with.
SCEE announced today that System Software Update 2.00 for the Vita will bring with it Playstation Plus on November 21st at no additional cost.Click here to read more...
Superbot Entertainment reckons that PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale will be good for "hundreds of hours" of playtime, due to numerous challenges, trials and character-specific unlocks.Click here to read more...
Just a quickie: Sony has confirmed that the Killzone Trilogy Edition is headed to British shores on October 24th. You'll get an HD remaster of the original Killzone, Killzone 2 and Killzone 3 along with six downloadable multiplayer map packs. More details on the EU PlayStation blog.
The bundle has a suggested retail price of £40.84, but we daresay that online stockists will undercut as silly season gets into full swing.
The folks over at the SCEE blog have just unloaded a massive video blowout of Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force goodness from Gamescom, featuring an interview with Insomniac's Shaun McCabe. Expect crossplay, new features, and some tower defence elements to get discussed in this vid.
Q-Force hits PS3 and PS Vita this Autumn, and you can catch up with Brendan's recent preview right here.The Vita trailer is up top, click here for the detailed interview >>>
SCE UK chief Fergal Gara has admitted that the Vita's sofware library isn't as strong as it should be, but that great things are afoot "in the next few months."Click here to read more...