#7 – Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
A franchise that needs no introduction- Metal Gear Solid is a landmark in the action genre and this collection for Vita (also available on PS3 and Xbox 360) provides you with two of the best titles from the PS2 era; Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater, in a nice, high resolution package, and something you should already be aware of is two games are better than one. Although on the Vita you won’t get the wonderful HD version of Peace Walker, nor will you get the silky smooth 60 frames-per-second of the console versions, the system still maintains a very stable 30fps without any noticeable let-up (unlike the Nintendo 3DS version of Snake Eater, that chugs along at 20fps and lower). Plus if you enjoy your time with these two games, you can always pick up the PSP version of Peace Walker on the Vita online store.
The Metal Gear Solid franchise is predominantly one that favours stealth over all-out, guns-blazing combat but nothing prevents you from approaching the game that way if you so desire. The Metal Gear games, particularly Snake Eater, put a lot of emphasis on survival-meaning you will have to treat your wounds, cure your ailments and hunt for food to keep your protagonist, alive and well. The narrative is an extremely prominent aspect to these games, and I must add that Snake Eater has one of the most praised video game storyline’s of all time-although you may not appreciate this sentiment until you have reached its conclusion. However this means that you must be prepared for very long cut-scenes in both games, long conversations on your radio and perhaps you’ll find yourself making a few wiki searches when you inevitably miss a few details because you were focusing too much on Eva’s….assets
Although I have no shame in admitting that I much prefer Snake Eater to Sons of Liberty, both are incredibly high quality games. Sons of Liberty is better for fans of more industrial environments with futuristic themes, while Snake Eater is better for fans of more wild, natural environments and historical themes. It’s all a matter of taste.
Both titles provide you with plenty of mechanics to adapt to, and at some points you may be scratching your head wondering why you are unable to keep a steady aim or why you are hearing stomach rumbling noises. You will have to figure this out yourself. The games are not the kind to hold your hand, but you will overcome their learning curves as you progress, and feel all the more gratified by your successes.
#6 – Call of Duty Black Ops Declassified
In case you have not seen the reviews, allow me to sum it up: it is the lowest rated and most criticized Call of Duty of all time. But is it all that bad? Well, actually no. If you picked it up at full price then you would understandably feel ripped-off for a multitude of reasons; its horrendously short campaign, the regurgitated character models, the extremely shallow multiplayer, etc. But if you pick it up on sale… your perception will probably be very different to that of a disgruntled day 1 buyer. From a core gameplay standpoint, this is very much a Call of Duty game. The way it controls, the animation, the visual style and interface all feel near-identicle to the COD formula know and love. This alone makes the game warrant a purchase in my eyes.
You have nearly 30 weapons at your disposal and around 9 attachments for each gun and, sure, you’ll mostly be shooting the same few enemies over and over again, but that’s hardly anything for this genre. You can hop onto multiplayer and, sure, there are only a few maps and they’re titchy, but it gets the job done. From the slow-motion raids to the knifing animations and the little points you score for killing enemies, this game feels like COD through and through and like every other game in its franchise, it’s undeniably satisfying! If you can look past some monumental issues; namely the fact that the whole game feels like a lazy cash-in, it’s the only way to play Call of Duty on your vita and for what it is worth, it’s better than nothing. It disappoints, and has some wasted potential but the only reason you would not enjoy it is if you don’t like Call of Duty to start with.
#5 – Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath
You will be forgiven if you’d missed Stranger’s first outing, as the game was initially released as an exclusive for the under-appreciated original Xbox back in 2005, but here is your chance to catch up. If you’ve not played an Oddworld game since Abe’s Oddysee you’ll be surprised at just how far removed Stranger’s Wrath is. It’s a fully 3-dimensional, semi-open world, third-person action shooter, set in a fantastical-wild west environment where you play as a gruff, mysterious bounty hunter named Stranger who is trying to earn enough cash to afford a secretive operation that his life depends on. You are armed with a Crossbow that fires live ammunition and each mammal or insect projectile that you load it with will affect your targets differently. This adds a bit of strategy to your combat, which is done in first person view (while the rest of the gameplay is third person).
You will have to harvest and collect the ammo you need as different enemies have different weaknesses and you’ll soon find out that firing randomly at wanted men won’t get you very far. Each enemy with a bounty on their head provides an exceptional challenge and you are forced to rethink your tactics in order to stay alive. If you take a break from the main storyline, you’ll find yourself utterly immersed into the beautiful world. The game’s odd western setting is unique and is chock-full with charm due to its anthropomorphic animal inhabitants, like the Clackers (basically chicken people) and every character’s humorous voice-work and dialogue. The game has had a nice HD make-over so everything looks crisp and is actually up to snuff with a some of the best-looking vita titles in the visuals department. Bounty missions and environments eventually get a little tiresome if you are attempting a play-through in one sitting, but it’s definitely an adventure worth taking and savouring.
#4 – Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable
Ridiculously over-sized weapons? Check. Collapsing skyscrapers? Check. Gigantic ants spreading havoc? Check. Cheesy voice acting? Check check! This is Earth Defense Force in a nutshell, originally an Xbox 360 exclusive, it’s now a Vita title and is bigger and better and somehow stupider. It has something of a low-budget, ridiculous b-movie feel and it flaunts it because it knows it. The gameplay doesn’t have the tightness or fluidity of other Vita shooters, and the visuals are rather lacklustre. Really this game’s biggest draw is that it is one of the craziest shooters on the market-and frankly that takes some doing. And you probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you it is actually entertaining, especially if you play co-op with three other friends and take on massive hordes of gigantic insects together.
There’s no denying that this is an ambitious project, to have a semi-open, explorable city crumbling before your eyes, with hundreds upon hundreds of monsters scaling the towers, filling the streets and attacking everything in their path, and in spite of the slightly dated visuals, it is still quite impressive to behold. The games shortcomings are from how simplistic it is, however that is also its greatest asset-because it’s a time-killer that doesn’t even require you to think- just move, point at the alien creatures and shoot (and laugh at the silliness of it all). Not to mention it’s filled to the brim with content, featuring 60 levels and unlockables! But ultimately the fun-factor of this game is dependent on how long you are able to look past the somewhat weak game mechanics, and how many times you can shoot many of the same oversized creatures in samey environments before you want to play something else. Nonetheless, sooner or later you’ll feel the need to put on your helmet and return to save your city from impending doom once again, whilst ironically destroying that very city in the process.
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