Monday, September 10, 2012

Buy Your Loved One a PS Vita

Sony knows my heart. Yes, the PlayStation Vita sounds like a new organic yogurt instead of a spectacular handheld gaming device. Sure, Sony Corp. wants to suck you dry by slapping a $250 price tag on the product itself and then making you buy a starter kit with a 4GB proprietary memory card for $40. It's worth it.

Fiancé bought me the PS Vita as a distraction from The Ring of Power, which I was to receive later in the month. He got me Gravity Rush, which I'd raved about after seeing a demo at a GameStop, and he also persuaded the future parents-in-law to get me Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Both games were so gorgeous that I blazed through them faster than a Harvard grad student goes through a stash of extremely wholesome herbal stress remedies.

Gravity Rush features Kat, who falls everywhere.
At first glance, Gravity Rush has all the essentials: a likable lead, mind-blowing gameplay, and mysterious happenings. The game's central feature is the heroine's ability to control where gravity comes from--so if I choose the sky, she "falls" toward the heavens.  NPCs would drop to the ground in fear as my character flew upwards and sideways and slammed gleefully into light poles, hair rippling in defiant resistance to her own gravity manipulation. Like Link in every Legend of Zelda game, Kat hunted precious gems that allowed various upgrades. The story starts with Kat hurtling from the sky and getting right back up. People start calling her a "shifter" and asking for her help. Kat's random acts of good deeds include helping the police capture a master thief, finding lost children, and having utterly bizarre conversations with a scientist and his wife who seem to exist a rift in the time-space continuum. And then there are the "Creators," who change/make reality and I won't even get into it because it's too confusing.

I'm not replaying Gravity Rush, despite my being able to tilt the PS Vita to control my character's movement, which is awesome. See, the combat sucks hard. Kat has to fight off annoying blobs with bright magenta eyes, and as she levels up, these suckers get faster and more frustrating to kick in mid-air. Imagine revving a motorcycle to 85 mph and trying to hit a moving one-inch target with the front wheel. Then you get shot immediately when you miss. Ugh. If I didn't have to fight every single chapter, I'd happily get the DLC just to see Kat's other fabulous outfits, including Ninja, Military, and Cat Girl. Speaking of cat, Kat's powers come from a little kitty with nebula-colored fur. You have to see it to believe it, and being the cat person that I am, I was in ecstasy during the chapter when the cat split into 20 copies of itself and I had to track down every adorable one. So, in conclusion: Dear Project Siren, Please make combat more fun for the sequel.  More cats won't hurt, either. Thank you.

Fun fact: the full Japanese title for Gravity Rush is Gravity Daze: the Physics Generated from the Inner Universe of the Girl who Returned to the Upper Stratum. WHAT. HOW AWESOME IS THAT. (Provided my translation is accurate, of course.) Addendum to conclusion: Dear Project Siren, Please hire me as a localization consultant or translator, you won't regret it. Thank you.

I then moved on to Uncharted: Golden Abyss, part of a series starring Nathan Drake, an affable Indiana Jones/Lara Croft hybrid, but without the hat or the boobs.

This jungle cannot contain Drake's manliness.

Now this game knows what's what. The graphics are jaw-dropping, the sound gets your heart rate up, the combat winsomely kicks ass, and the voice acting and cut scenes deserve awards. In this adventure, Drake's been hired to trek the jungles of South America to find the "golden abyss," which a religious group called the Sete Cidades went looking for ages ago, and then something about the tribes of Mesoamerica. Lots of human sacrifices. Something. Anyway, Drake encounters Marisa Chase, who is so charmed by his rugged manliness that she immediately offers to partner with him. Girl, I hear you. Too bad she refuses to carry a gun, because all of a sudden, Drake has to fend off an army of thugs led by a former general also looking for the golden abyss, more for the gold than for the abyss, obviously. Drake and Chase ("Only my grandfather calls me Marisa!") run like hell, sneak around, swing from vines, leap giant gaps, and do extreme climbing in their quest for precious artifacts, all the while exchanging flirty banter.

I particularly enjoyed the combat system, where Drake shoots at enemies from the cover of a crate or a large rock. In one chapter, I control another character who has a GP32-BND, aka a handheld grenade launcher. I aim right at the bad guys' chests, mwahahaaaa. I'm also pretty good at video game sniping, ever since the NES days of Duck Hunt. And did I mention that in this game, the back of the PS Vita is also a touch screen surface, which you can use to view objects at an angle, or row a canoe? There is so much awesome I can't even.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss is the game to pick up for the PS Vita. I've finished it in Normal and Hard modes, and might even try Crushing. Yikes. In the meantime, I signed up for the Sony Entertainment Network, where Sony gets more of my money when I download games straight into the Vita. I plan to buy Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky.

The moral of this post is: your gamer loved one deserves a PlayStation Vita.

PlayStation Vita: you can't eat it, but you can tilt it.

Lemme try that again.

PlayStation Vita: hello to fun, goodbye to your savings.


PlayStation Vita: Sony has the technology. It has the capability to build the world's best handheld gaming device. The PS Vita will be that thing. Better than the PSP. Better, prettier, faster.

By George, I think I've got it. Sony, if you need advertising ideas (YOU DO. YOU REALLY DO.) for older Millenials, I'm your girl. 

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