…including impressions for Dynasty Warriors, Rayman, UMvC3, ModNation, and Ridge Racer!
A couple of days ago, I returned from a long road trip with several of my buddies, one of which owned a PSVita. I’ve always wanted to touch one, seeing that people have been raving about it so much around here. So after playing a massive round of Mario Kart with my friends, I decided to try it out. Below are my quick impressions on the hardware itself along with five games: Dynasty Warriors Next, Rayman Origins, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, ModNation Racers: Road Trip, and Ridge Racer.
Before we begin, I should probably tell you my background when it comes to Sony hardware. I own a PS2, and I have A TON of games for it. I’ve played a PSP before, and despite liking it as well, the games that were on the thing just didn’t appeal to me that much. Basically, I have a soft spot for Sony’s stuff, and despite the fact that I don’t own a PS3, I don’t hate Sony. I just think they’ve kinda walked away from their old fanbase by killing off older franchises. But enough of that. Let’s get on to the impressions.
I already kinda had in mind what to expect in terms of the size of the Vita due to the fact that most gaming sites (IGN included) really like to post pictures of new hardware. And my expectations matched with what I saw. The PSVita is huge. Of course, that may not be a bad thing. There had to be a way to fit that big and bright and beautiful OLED touch screen on there. But with a size like that, how the hell am I supposed to put the dang thing in my pocket?!
The first thing I did after getting a hold of the Vita was press the buttons. I really liked how they felt. The D-pad and face buttons were clicky (just the way I like it) and the shoulder buttons are mushy (again, just the way I like it). The analog sticks, however, felt extremely loose. I’m not even sure if I should call them “sticks” since they’re really just sliding nubs attached to a ball (kinda like a joint and socket). This posed as a problem with some of the games I played, so if you want a Vita, you better be ready to try to get used to it (which I in no doubt believe it’s possible).
One small note to put out there: I didn’t try the rear touch pad. None of the games I had were compatible with it (with the exception of ModNation I assume, though I didn’t really have time to tinker with it). I’m sure it’s cool and all, but with so little games using it, I don’t expect it to be a stand-out feature at all (or at least not yet).
Oh, and one last thing. In terms of battery life, the Vita suffers deeply. My friend and I barely managed to get 4-5 hours in before the battery gave way. Even so, we managed to squeeze in many more hours over the course of several days. It’s just a shame that we couldn’t play much longer than that. Oh well. At least I got to play all the games I wanted to play! And speaking of games…
Dynasty Warriors Next
The first game I tried was Dynasty Warriors. Upon starting up my friend’s load game, I was immediately thrown into a minigame in which I was to race up a mountain on my horse while jumping over or avoiding obstacles. Here, I had the option to use the gyroscope to move my horse left or right. Naturally, I went with the buttons.
I expected to get right into the real game after that. But boy was I wrong. I was then thrown into yet another minigame, this time using the gyroscope to shoot down enemy troops with a blaster (?). It was a bit frustrating mostly due to the fact that I was on a bus at the time so me waving the Vita around made me look like an idiot. After beating it, I then (finally) moved on to the main game.
The main game was… boring to say the least. It felt exactly like Dynasty Warriors 3, a game that I had on my PS2. Heck, it looked like DW3. It was a lot of generic hack and slash. My goal was to capture all 7 enemy bases by killing everyone in each base (and each base had like 400 people; talk about repetition). I captured 2 before the enemy recaptured one of mine. I gave up and turned the game off. I guess now I know why people have been hating on the DW series for quite a while now!
While my experience with Dynasty Warriors Next was met with a bitter end, another game, Rayman Origins, got my spirits up. I’ve heard great things about this game (IGN gave it a 9.5/10) and I love 2D platformers, so I was eager to try the game out.
I was only able to squeeze a few levels into Rayman, but what I got out of it was a lot of potential. The ability to slap didn’t really come until the second level, so everything before that felt really slow and segmented. But after that second level, I was blasting my way through the game like it was nothing. It felt good. No, it felt great. It was like playing a fighting game while playing a 2D platformer. I loved it.
One thing that I really appreciate about Rayman Origins is that it doesn’t penalize you for dying. I guess the reason why it’s there is to urge players to go crazy on platforming like I did. It’s a solid game, and while I didn’t play much of it, I’m pretty much down for the 3DS version. It looks and plays like the Mario game that I’ve always wanted. And I want it!
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Look. I suck at fighting games. The combos, the button commands, the movesets… everything is just so complicated! Why can’t these games be like Smash Bros.?! Anyways, enough of that. I failed miserably at UMvC3. I don’t think I want to play it again.
One thing I will say about this game though is that I’m IN LOVE with the art style. The comic-book cartoonish look of the characters and stages make this game look beautiful. In fact, I’d say that this is the best looking Vita game by FAR. It’s unbelievable that a game with visuals like this could make it onto a small little cartridge. Too bad I’m terrible at this game!
Oh, and by the way, Phoenix Wright is the best character EVER! ;D
ModNation Racers: Road Trip
This is the one game that I’ve played extensively on. I must say, aside from Ape Escape (which is dead, I presume), ModNation is now my favorite Sony franchise. I love making my own tracks, I love making my own character, I love doing absolutely anything and everything in the game… it’s so much fun. I’ve never played a ModNation game before, and I must say that I’m very impressed.
The game plays like most racers in that you have your basic movement, acceleration, brake, and drifting mechanics. Drifting and getting air (among other things) adds to your boost meter (much like the Burnout games) which you can use to blast by your opponents. Items are also in this game, which adds to the chaos of the game. You can even level up your items if you collect the same item more than once (for up to 3 times)! Each stage also has a set of goals for you to achieve which range from getting items to taking shortcuts. Boy do I love Modnation. It actually made me wish that I had a Vita!
I’d like to address three small things about this game to everyone. 1) The load times for the game are so long. They’re annoyingly long. Probably 15-20 seconds long. Doesn’t sound long to you. Look at your clock right now and stare at it for 20 seconds. It’s pretty long. 2)The framerate is terrible. It looks like it’s running at 15-20fps. My friend told me that he’s going to try to reinstall the game to see if it gets fixed. It’s kinda weird how this game is the only one that does such a dip in framerate. 3) For those complaining about no online play, I say you should still give the game a chance. There is literally unlimited value in this game. All the collectables, the course editor, the character editor, the kart editor, and the track sharing features more than make up for the lack of online play. I understand that the inclusion of online would have made the game even better, but don’t let that hold you back from getting the game. It’s still fantastic.
Riiiiiddddggggeeeeee Racer! I must say that I’m not very good at Ridge Racer. It was the game that I played the least (and for good reason; there’s not even that many courses in the game) and the game that I felt was the most generic (yes, even more than Dynasty Warriors). It was… okay. Nothing special. I mean, it’s not a bad game. I just found it kinda boring. Maybe it’s because I’ve never played Ridge Racer before. Maybe I’m playing it wrong (I don’t know how that would be; it’s a racer for goodness sake!) I don’t know. The game just didn’t click with me. It just felt like another racer.
Overall, my experience with the PSVita was all that I expected: a large handheld with a mix of good and bad games. It’s amazing how you can get something as fun and unique as Rayman to something so boring and generic like Ridge Racer. The graphics also vary a lot; UMvC3 looks amazing while Dynasty Warriors looks so dark and bland. As for my favorite and my least favorite games? My favorite game by far is ModNation Racers: Road Trip. I just had so much fun with that game! Probably sunk in an hour and a half on it. As for my least favorite? Dynasty Warriors Next. I hated the minigames, I hated how I had to kill 400 people to capture a base, I hated how my base got recaptured… maybe it just wasn’t my day but it was too frustrating for me to move on.
I kinda want a Vita now. But I also kinda don’t. The PSVita is just so goddamn expensive! I’m just not willing to pay $250+ for a Vita, even if there are a couple of good games on it. I’d rather wait for the Vita library to fill up with hundreds of masterpieces before I spend that much on one (hint: that means never)! Maybe I’ll wait for a price drop. Just maybe. Maybe one day…