MOST WANTED 2014 – PS3 / PS VITA EDITION

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Well it’s already February and it’s been a tad quiet on the game release front so far. But fear not! There are plenty of great games coming soon(ish) so here’s a look at what you should be keeping an eye out for.

Originally this started out as an article covering all formats but there was just too much stuff! So first up will be PS3 and Vita, with PS4 games coming in the next installment.

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PS3

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Well there isn’t a massive amount for Playstation 3 that’s on my radar to be honest, so this will be a shorter section than the Vita one! I’ve already shelled out for the entire Second Season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead (above pic), we have had one episode so far (Clem – yay!) and I can’t wait for the rest. Aside from that I’m interested in Persona 5 but my main question on that is whether to wait for a Vita ‘Golden’ version. Not much is known about it but I loved Persona 4 Golden so much I will definitely play this at some stage!

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VITA

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There is still a misconception that the Vita doesn’t have any games – I busted that myth a while ago and it looks like 2014 is set to give us some real handheld treats. Some of these may have appeared on other systems before but I’ve never played them so I’m keen to try out the handheld version!

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Fez

Fez is a puzzle/platform game in which you rotate the world to progress. It has a fantastic art-style and is recognised as a top quality game by everyone that I know who played it. The player character, Gomez, has his world turned upside down when he receives a fez that allows him to manipulate the world around. Fez seems like a great game to play on the go.

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Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number looks set to continue the overkill of the first game, which was a fast paced bloodfest that required sharp reflexes to get through. Hotline Miami was one of those games you just couldn’t put down and you can expect more of the same from the sequel. Wrong Number takes place before and after the events of the original Hotline Miami so will tie in nicely with the storyline and will further flesh out the back story of ‘Jacket’.

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Velocity 2x

Velocity 2X is a sequel to Velocity Ultra and gives us a chance to get out of the spaceship we’ve been flying in previous titles to kick some ass on foot as well! You play as Kai Tana, who blacked out while traveling through a wormhole in space. Unfortunately she’s stranded somewhere inhabited by a race called the Vokh. The gameplay is as you’d expect for the flying sections and the on foot stuff is just as slick. We’ve been promised moon bases, space stations and alien planets. Bring it on!

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Volume

Volume is a tactical stealth game in which you play as Locksley, a vigilante who uses distraction and sneaking to commit his crimes. The game is a retelling of the Robin Hood story set in the near future and it looks fantastic. Mike Bithell’s previous game ‘Thomas Was Alone’ is awesome so this is definitely one to watch out for.

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Gravity Rush 2

I really enjoyed Gravity Rush, it remains one of the best exclusives the Vita has to offer. So I was most excited to see a follow up game teased. Kat awoke with no memory but had the ability to influence gravity. It looks like she may have some new powers judging by the trailer above and I’m keen to find out where the game is heading story-wise.

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Hyper Light Drifter

Hyper Light Drifter doesn’t seem like the sort of game I would usually get super excited for. But I thought this looked really cool as soon as I saw it. A 2D action role-playing game that sees you playing a character that has a mystery illness. As you search for a cure you’ll be using technology that only you have access to in a bid to defeat enemies and save yourself. Just look at that art-style… superb!

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CounterSpy

CounterSpy is a stealth game that is played from a side scrolling, 2D perspective. Taking place during an alternate history cold war (!), this game sounds super cool. The developers have some background as well – while this is their first indie game, some of them previously worked at LucaArts and Pixar.

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Murasaki Baby

This one looks dark as hell, no surprise I suppose given the game director’s history of working on titles like Killer7, No More Heroes and Shadows of the Damned. You play as Baby, a little girl who has a mouth (complete with sharp teeth) on her forehead. You’ll be guiding her through a world full of children’s nightmares. Again this is another Vita title with an excellent art direction and one I’m looking forward to playing.

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Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy was a bit hit last year and is set to hit the Vita sometime in 2014. The game is a platformer in which you must explore a randomly generated dungeon. It’s a bit like the excellent Spleunky but here when you die your abilities are passed on to one of three random ‘heirs’ who you control on the next run through. An interesting idea for sure and apparently very addictive.

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Frozen Synapse: Tactics

Frozen Synapse: Tactics is a turn based strategy game that sees you as part of a resistance, taking on a corrupt government in a dystopian, cyberpunk future. Which sounds pretty excellent to me. This isn’t a fast paced action title though – you’ll be carefully planning moves for your soldiers in advance and watching how things pan out in skirmishes between resistance and the government.

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Football Manager 2014

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As much as I’m looking forward to Football Manager on Vita I’m also a little apprehensive that it was swallow up hours of my gaming time. This a much more in-depth version than the previous PSP titles and as usual I expect to have great fun guiding a lower league club to the very top! This also has cross-save with the PC version of the game so you can play wherever/whenever you want.

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Freedom Wars

Freedom Wars is a battle action, co-op focussed game which takes place on Earth in the year 102013 (!). Humans now live underground and anyone arrested for a crime is presumed guilty. Prisoners can reduce their sentence by fighting giant monsters up top. If it plays as fun as it sounds this could be a real blast to play with friends.

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Helldivers

In Helldivers you’ll be battling the alien enemies of mankind as part of an elite government unit. The game is a top down shooter with procedurally-generated battlefields, so you won’t come across the exact same level twice. Helldivers features a single player campaign and (up to) 4 player co-op content, so this could be a title to grab with friends and get yourself online.

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Persona 4: Dancing All Night

As it says in the title this is a dancing rhythm game for the Vita. Not usually my cup of tea but I’ll play anything that furthers the story/world of Persona 4. Seems like you’ll still be fighting demons but this time by dancing as opposed to hitting them with blunt/sharp objects. Oh and Atlus, please sort getting Persona 4 Arena onto Vita soon. Or, like, now.

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So what do you think folks? Which games have your interest for the year ahead?

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The Playstation Vita: Great Expectations?

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There seems to have been a slight shift in opinion on the Playstation Vita recently, with lots of people moving away from the longheld negative perception of the device.

Nevertheless, everyone still has a different sticking point – it doesn’t have any games, it costs too much, I won’t have time to play it etc. I will dispute the lack of games comment below but the rest are valid arguments, depending on your situation.

I think the biggest problem the Vita had was one of perception – shown off as a ‘PS3 in your hands’ it meant the device was always going to struggle to meet expectations if the software line up wasn’t stellar.

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I personally didn’t have an issue with the launch line up but the gap between big titles was just too long. It certainly isn’t as bad now and Sony’s play for the indie market also means you’re getting some top quality, smaller games in between those triple AAA PS3 style experiences.

As for those who say PS3 style games don’t suit a handheld device, I have to disagree. I had no problem playing things like Uncharted, Assassin’s Creed or even Metal Gear Solid in smaller snatches of time. Especially as the Vita has a suspend button that means you can switch off temporarily instead of having to power the console down.

So let’s quickly bust the myth that the Vita has no games. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I believe what these people mean is the Vita has no games *they want to play*. That isn’t the same thing as actually having no games.

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Here is a list of Vita games I would recommend. This isn’t a list of every game available but consists of titles I feel are worth your money. I’ve noted in brackets where a title is only on Vita:

  • Unit 13 (Vita Only)
  • Motorstorm RC
  • Everybody’s Golf
  • Lumines
  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss (Vita Only)
  • Super Stardust (Vita Only)
  • Resistance Burning Skies (Vita Only)
  • Gravity Rush (Vita Only)
  • Metal Gear HD Collection
  • LittleBigPlanet Vita (Vita Only)
  • Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation (Vita Only)
  • When Vikings Attack
  • Need For Speed: Most Wanted
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Rayman Origins
  • Retro City Rampage
  • Persona 4 Golden (Vita Only)
  • Guacamelee
  • Soul Sacrifice (Vita Only)
  • Sine Mora
  • Thomas Was Alone

Most of these titles on their own may not sell you on the system but I do feel there is enough of a library building up to make that initial outlay worth it. Especially when you factor in something like Playstation Plus, which gives you free Vita games every few months.

I can see the argument that a lot of those aren’t Vita exclusives but for me titles like Guacamelee and Thomas Was Alone were not games I’d sit at home and play on my PS3. So I probably wouldn’t have played them (certainly not at this stage) if I didn’t have a Vita.

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Looking forward to E3 next month, it’s clear the Vita will have a bigger role than ever. With the upcoming PS4 aiming to have every title also playable on your handheld I imagine there will be an uplift in Vita sales towards the end of the year.

The Vita was always going to struggle in a market that has seen smartphones/tablets eat away at some of the more casual gamers in the space. When initial expectations weren’t met, more and more gamers were reluctant to take the plunge on a Vita.

The next few months will be a perfect time to get involved though. With a possible price cut at E3 and with more great games in the pipeline (I cannot wait for Hotline Miami and Killzone: Mercenary) the future is looking brighter for Vita after a rocky start.

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What do you guys think? Any other Vita owners out there – what are your thoughts on the Vita and the ‘lack of games’ for it? If you haven’t got one what would entice you?

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Persona 4 Golden – Review (Vita)

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As someone who has never played, or been interested in playing, a Japanese Role Playing Game (JRPG), such as Final Fantasy or Valkyria Chronicles, I was intrigued to see Persona 4 Golden essentially clear up the Vita Game Of The Year awards at most gaming sites last year.

Released back in 2012 in the US/Japan the game finally arrived to Europe in February. Having read from practically every gaming site I trust/respect that this was the best Vita game out and one of the best JRPG’s around I felt obliged to give it a try.

The jazzy intro left me with a smile on my face but also a quizzically raised eyebrow as I wondered exactly what I had let myself in for.

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The game is a year in the life of Yu Narukami as he transers schools to spend a year living with his Uncle in a small town called Inaba. You have control over his life, from schoolwork to making friends and even deciding on where to work part time. While the story doesn’t change your decisions do affect your relationships throughout the game.

And Persona 4 Golden is all about relationships. Whether it’s your friends or relatives, everything you do has a knock on effect on what the game calls your ‘Social Links’. The better your social links the more powerful your (and your allies) Personas can become when fighting shadows.

Oh, did I forget to mention as well as Yu Narukami’s daily life of school and work you also FALL INTO TV’s AND BATTLE SHADOW MONSTERS šŸ˜†

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Without getting too spoilerific, you discover that you can access this other world through the TV. After a spate of murders in Inaba, you realise they are tied to the other world. You and your friends decide to try and save whoever might be the next victim.

Because I hadn’t played a game like this before I put Persona 4 Golden on ‘Very Easy’ and to be honest this was probably a wise move. I died in battle only a handful of times and when I did was able to revive on the spot with full health. While this reduced the challenge of combat it enabled me to get to grips with the game without becoming frustrated. It also meant I was free to concentrate on the social side of the game and just enjoy the story.

And what a story it is. Traditionally Japanese games have been a bit more ‘out there’ than Western titles (see Bayonetta/Vanquish/Metal Gear Solid) and Persona 4 Golden is no different but the game also deals with some interesting themes – loneliness, responsibility and even coming to terms with one’s masculinity. It might be wrapped up in J-Pop gloss but Persona is definitely full of great character arcs.

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The characters are well written and by the end of the game I genuinely cared about them. It’s not often that happens with game characters – probably The Walking Dead, Mass Effect and Uncharted games are the most recent examples I can think of.

As you build relationships with the other characters you’ll get different options in terms of who to spend time with and the game often gives you a few options when you only have time for one. You may even eventually get a girlfriend (or several if that’s more your ‘style’) and the game does a good job of conveying the slightly embarrassing beginnings of a school relationship at that age.

The difference between this and other games with social options is that Persona 4 Golden isn’t just a case of ‘this person likes/dislikes you’ it’s that in forging and building these relationships you are effectively levelling up. Even studying and doing well at school gives you bonuses. It means that of all the 41 hours I ploughed into the game not a minute was wasted. There was no filler.

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The combat is based around fighting monsters in dungeons that are themed around various thoughts/fears of the townspeople. You have the ability to call on monsters of your own (Personas) to aid you and you’ll always be with a few of your friends (another difficult choice, who do you take with you?). You walk around the dungeon freely in third person and once an encounter is initiated the action moves to a turn based setting.

I won’t go into story details beyond the above but I enjoyed it and thought it did a good job of maintaining the mystery of events until the reveal. One word of advice though, keep 3 or 4 rolling saves because it is VERY easy to miss the real ending of the game. First time out I got a disappointing ending that skipped 3 months of in-game time (around 8/10 hours of gameplay) so keep a spare save ready to go back if needed.

Even going back and getting the proper ending I still missed a part of the game and didn’t have a back up (thinking I’d finished) so I will have try and get to that on my next playthrough. Yep I plan to go back through the game again, this time on a more competitive setting.

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I didn’t imagine Persona 4 Golden would grab me so hard if I’m honest – as I said at the outset I’ve never been interested in this type of game before but I’ll be keeping an eye on the genre now and hopefully might find some other great experiences for my Vita.

If you have a Vita then I can’t recommend this enough, Persona 4 Golden is a fantastic game that offers a lot more than just turn based combat and will leave you wanting more at each turn.

Rating: 10/10

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