Sunday, 8 January 2012

PS Access Vita Rooms

Saturday 26th November - PlayStation Access Vita Rooms

On Saturday 26th I excitedly attended an exclusive preview event for Sony's new handheld console the PlayStation Vita which is due out 22nd February 2012.

I arrived in London to find the Old Burberry Building transformed into a giant PlayStation Access advertisement. All the windows and doors had been covered with PlayStations trademark blue background and the PlayStation symbols, creating a sense of mystery as to what awaited us behind those bright blue doors.

Inside was a the biggest gamers chill-out room I have even seen. Comfy seating, plenty of PS Vita's for all to share, awesome tunes coming from the DJ and free food and drinks for everyone.

We walked around for a few minutes to have a look at what games they had provided for the day. The last time we got our hands on with the PS Vita was at EuroGamer back in September where they provided 5 or 6 games with only the chance to play one game picked at random. This time it was different though, we were let loose with a full set of 26 games. Which begged the question - what game do I try first with all this choice?

We decided to make our way around the room clockwise to make sure we didn't miss any games, so we started with an odd little game called Frobisher Says and it was a good game to start with as it makes great use of the Vita's unique controls.

Frobisher Says

As soon as I saw Frobisher Says the first thought that popped into my head was "this looks just like Wario Ware on the Nintendo DS" and I was right...But that isn't a bad thing.

Frobisher Says is a great title that you can easily pick up and play. Its fast paced, frantic and fun with each level lasting only 10 seconds. The idea of the game is to get through as many of the strange mini games as you can without failing. With only 50 mini games being thrown at you randomly it can get repetitive but its perfect for playing for short amounts of time - its certainly a good game for keeping you entertained on the bus or in the car. Where it fails in repetitiveness it makes up for it in its craziness and cute graphics.

Next to this we found Super Stardust Delta. Being placed next to Frobisher Says only enhanced its beauty.

Super Stardust Delta

Super Stardust Delta was instantly familiar having played Super Stardust HD on the PS3. The gameplay was the same as the PS3 version but playing it on the Vita just felt right. The graphics were crisp, clean and made the game a pleasure to play. This will be one of the games that I will be sure to purchase.
We then moved on to the next booth which had Rayman OriginsSuper Monkey Ball and Little Deviants.

Little Deviants

Little Deviants was another game like Frobisher Says but it had longer levels, better graphics and used the Vita controls in a more fluid way.

 This game is very well suited to children with its brightly coloured characters and short fun levels, but adults will also enjoy this for a short time to pick up and play from time to time.
The game incorporates all of the PS Vitas functions, especially the use of the touch screen on the back of the Vita.

Some of my favourite functions using the controls for this game are using the back screen to push deviants towards you to push them out of the windows, pushing the front and back screen at the same time to squish objects and using the augmented reality to shoot deviants in a game where you can move the Vita around the

 room where the deviants could be attacking you, even from behind, I had great fun moving around the room shooting in different directions and breaking objects on screen that are actually in the room with you.
Rayman Origins and Super Monkey Ball both have the same feel as their original games.  Super Monkey Ball makes good use of the motion tilt control although I found it a little tricky while Rayman Origins uses the traditional approach of the buttons to play but it looks stunning.

Next in the line up of games was a game I was looking forward to playing - LittleBigPlanet Vita.

LittleBigPlanet Vita.

If there's one game I am looking forward to the most on the Vita its LittleBigPlanet.

I was greeted with LittleBigPlanet's familiar level select screen from LBP 1 &2 on the PS3. There was only a couple of levels to try out but each one had something good to offer. The different levels showed off more of what the Vita can do using both the touch screens along-side the other controls. One of my favourite levels was a racing level that had been created. The unique feature of this level was that you had to turn the Vita 90 degrees to a portrait position and you race other cars up the screen and collected points by destroying other cars.

Having seen what the creative community can do with LBP on the PS3 I am excited to see what people will come up with when it comes to creating new Vita inspired levels.

The last set of games in the booth sections of the room were Sound ShapesGravity RushEscape Plan and ModNation Racers : Road Trip.

Sound Shapes was a game that I instantly liked. As soon as I picked it up I said "This is LocoRoco but without the cute characters and bright colourful colours" and whilst I love Locoroco this felt like a grown-up version which had all of LocoRoco's gameplay but with added soft soothing sounds which play as you land, roll and jump from objects which makes it a perfect chill-out game.

Gravity Rush's biggest feature in this beautiful cell-shaded game is the players ability to manipulate gravity in order to navigate the games open world making you see everything from a different perspective.

I was curious about Escape Plan when I stumbled upon it whilst I was looking around when I first got to the Vita Rooms - it was a game that I had never heard nor had I seen any screen shots of it. It certainly stood out from the crowd with its beautiful black and white graphics. After spending a few minutes playing around with it I found that I had to use the front screen to move objects away from me and swipe it to move either of the characters and then back screen was used for pushing objects towards me. Each room has a puzzle that you need to solve in order to try to escape the building that you are in. The movement of the characters and objects was very satisfying, the larger character took longer to move and needed smaller swipes while lighter objects moved with ease. Overall It is a beautiful game and another definite purchase for me.

ModNation Racers : Road Trip is another title coming from the PS3 to the PS Vita, once again game play is very much the same. There will be 500,000 tracks available from release thanks to the PS3 ModNation community creating tracks in the original game. If your looking for a Mario Kart type game on the Vita then this is the one to get and I'm sure there will be some exciting things coming to the create mode using the Vita's different control system very soon.

After we finished our play through of the games at the booths we decided to chill out in the lounge area for a while, enjoying the complementary hot dogs, burgers and drinks, chatting to fellow gamers and finding out what they thought of the Vita. The general response was that they had never played anything like it, the unique controls gave gaming a new edge and everyone was very impressed with how the back touch screen had been incorporated into the different games.

The games provided around the comfy sofa area of the room were Hustle Kings, Everybody's Golf 6, Ridge Racer, Top Darts and F1 2011. All of these games played just as well as their PS3 versions but my favourite out of them had to be Everybody's Golf 6.

We then moved along to another area where they were showing off Wipeout 2048, Touch My Katamari, FIFA Football, Michael Jackson : The Experience, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Resistance : Burning Skies and Virtua Tennis 4.

Touch My Katamari from the Katamari series is another one of my favourite games that I played on the Vita. The game play remains the same and the characters are still as crazy as ever but something about having a Katamari game on the Vita just felt right. It works very well as a handheld game as you can usually complete a level within 5 to 10 minutes and it makes it an essential pick up and play game to get on its release.

Me at the Vita Rooms playing Virtua Tennis 4

The last two games we came to was Uncharted : Golden Abyss and Reality Fighters. Both were fantastic games.

Uncharted's main man Nathan Drake

Uncharted : Golden Abyss is said to be set before the events of Uncharted : Drakes Fortune on the PS3. Golden Abyss makes full use of all of the Vita's controls from motion sense sniping with the rifle to touch screen interaction when jumping and swinging across the beautiful looking landscapes, although you can play the game with the traditional controls if thats more your thing. I got the chance to play through one level during my time with the game and it looked stunning - just as all Uncharted games do. I was worried at first that with so much detail and precise controls it would be difficult to play but using both the analogue sticks made it just as easy to control as it is with a Dualshock 3 on the PS3.

Reality Fighters is the best use of augmented reality that I have seen demonstrated on the PS Vita, not only can you take a photo of yourself and put yourself into the game but you can also use the environment around you to hold your fights in in the craziest beat 'em up around! It was interesting to see the characters moving off screen as you had to move the Vita around to follow them. The fighting itself was just as fluid as playing on Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and playing on the pre-loaded levels looked just as good.

After spending 7 hours at the event we decided to call it a night and used to train journey home to decide what games I will be definitely be buying once I have a PS Vita of my own.
The games I decided that I must have after playing them are :
  • LittleBigPlanet
  • Rayman Origins
  • Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
  • Escape Plan
  • Everybody's Golf 6
  • Touch My Katamari
  • Uncharted : Golden Abyss
  • Reality Fighters
I guess I had better start saving up then !

PlayStation Access Vita Rooms are on their travels and their next stop is Manchester, stop by the Facebook page and the event page to register your interest to come along next time. See you there !

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