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Level Up! Sony Releases the PS Vita!

We review Soul Calibur V

By Tim Janson     February 09, 2012

 

Big, big week for Sony coming up next week…First of all we’ve got the much anticipated release of Twisted Metal, one of my top game picks for 2012. Twisted Metal and Twisted Metal 2 were two of my favorite games on the original Playstation and its high time that we finally are getting a next generation version. But Sony has even more at stake next week with the release of their latest portable game system the PS Vita. First off, the PSP didn’t exactly set the world on fire and secondly lets face it, it’s a tough market out there. Handheld systems cost as much as console systems do these days and what with iPods, iPhones, and othe smart devices the Vita is going to have a hell of a lot of competition to try and overcome.
 
The Vita does have a couple of things going for it. It looks like a well-designed system with a lot of bells and whistles. There is an impressive array of games coming out with the release, certainly a far more impressive slate than the Nintendo 3DS offered last year. They’ve already lined up several third party developers/publishers including Capcom, Ubisoft, and THQ. While most of the initial games are ports of previous console releases, Sony is rolling out original titles Uncharted: Golden Abyss along with Little Deviants. Time will tell…
 
In our reviews section this week I’ve got a look at the latest Soul Calibur game so lets get to it!
 
IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK
 
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Content Season for Call of Duty Elite Premium Members
 
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3's Content Season for Call of Duty Elite kicks off for Premium Members on the PlayStation Network February 28 with release of the first two content drops of the nine month season, Liberation and Piazza.  Call of Duty Elite Drop 1: Liberation, a militarized Central Park in the heart of NYC, featuring a vast landscape ripe for long-range sniper and LMG kills. Mounted turrets on opposing ends of the map offer overwhelming firepower to anyone brave enough to man them. Elite Drop 2: Piazza, set in an idyllic seaside village, Italian getaway gone rogue, where blind corners and a complex network of branching pathways pose danger at every turn. Visceral close-quarters combat dominates in Piazza, and attacks from above and below are an ever-constant threat. 
 
Call of Duty Elite Drop 3: Overwatch will be available to Premium Members on the Xbox LIVE online entertainment network on February 21.  This one drops you into a construction site atop a New York City skyscraper. The battle takes place along two levels in a near symmetrical layout, with the central bridge and side routes open to attack from multiple angles. Watch your every step, as a lack of safety barriers surrounding the perimeter leaves nothing between you and a 70 story fall to the ground below. Overwatch is the third Content Drop in Modern Warfare 3's Content Season, which will include more than 20 pieces of brand new content over the 9 month season. Elite Drops 4-6 will be available in March for Premium Members on Xbox Live and will include the multiplayer map Black Box and two brand new Special Ops Missions, Black Ice and Negotiator.
 
All content is available first to Premium Members on Xbox 360, but will be available to Premium Members on PS3 before non-premium members on their console.
 
Konami announces first DLC for NeverDead
 
Konami announced that the NeverDead Expansion Pack Volume 1 will be available for download on February 21, 2012. Fans will be able to expand their online experience with a new playable character, three new challenges within the expanded Asylum level and two new online costumes for the main character, Bryce Boltzmann.
 
In NeverDead, players become the immortal Bryce Boltzmann, a tragic hero who has endured a suffering existence due to the murder of his wife at the hands of Astaroth, the Demon King.  Moving through life without aspirations other than where he will find his next drink, he fights alongside his partner Arcadia for the National Anti-Demon Agency (NADA), exterminating modern day demonic forces.
 
Highlights of the NeverDead Expansion Pack Volume 1 include:
 
New Character: Play as the fashionable, charismatic pop-idol, Nikki Summerfield in cooperative challenges with your friends through online multiplayer.
 
Three New Gameplay Challenges - Revisit an expanded Asylum level with 3 all-new challenges:
 
         - Egg Hunt: Scour the expanded Asylum level for collectables scoring points by delivering them to designated "Score Zones." Make sure to hold on tight to your collectibles as opponents can snatch any that you drop along the way. With enemy ambush points and environmental hazards at every turn, this challenge is tricky!
 
         - Fragile Alliance : A competitive race through a number of checkpoints spread across the map. You can interrupt other player's progress by attacking each other. The increase of environmental hazards and enemy spawn points will keep you on your toes.
 
         - Onslaught: Unlock the entire Asylum level section-by-section by defeating all enemies.. Demon-seals that block off areas will dissipate as you defeat enemies from the previous area, providing more-controlled player movement and encounters.
 
Two Additional Character Costumes: Dress Bryce up in these new costumes before going back into the online fray.
 
Activision and Hasbro Announce Battleship
 
Hasbro and Activision proudly present the BATTLESHIP videogame developed with Double Helix Games.  Inspired by the classic naval strategy game, this seek-and-find adventure is taken to spectacular new heights.  As a stand-alone story from Universal Pictures’ upcoming epic action-adventure of the same name, the BATTLESHIP videogame offers a blend of strategic naval command and first-person action gameplay.
 
BATTLESHIP follows elite demolitions specialist Cole Mathis as he clashes against an aquatic-based extraterrestrial peril in the sand and sea of the beautiful Hawaiian archipelago.  Trapped in a veritable communications dead zone, Mathis must command the U.S. Navy fleet in a “siege on the sea,” while simultaneously rallying the troops on land for a terrifying “war on the shore.”
 
Combining naval strategy simulation with first-person shooter gameplay, players fend off the enemy beachside while ordering attacks against their marine counterparts. Seamlessly switching between battlefield and overview “Battle Command” map, the Hasbro game is brought to life as carriers, frigates, cruisers, destroyers, submarines and the legendary USS Missouri Battleship pummel the enemy in a race to strategic points that turn the tide of battle.  The BATTLESHIP videogame is a next-gen marvel perfectly suited to turn nostalgic game junkies into battle-hardened admirals.  Battleship will be available for the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS and DS.
 
DUE OUT NEXT WEEK
 
Twisted Metal (Sony)  Rated M  PS3
 
Twisted Metal is an over-the-top, vehicular combat game exclusively for play on PlayStation 3. Gameplay revolves around demolition derby style action set across multiple maps in which last contestant alive receives virtually whatever they desire. The game contains both an engrossing single player campaign story mode, as well as multiplayer modes which support co-op and 4-player action locally, as well as 16-player support online. Additional features include: returning characters from earlier releases in the game franchise, 17 vehicles that can be customized with a wide variety of weapons, destructible game environments and more.
 
Twisted Metal returns with unhinged car combat destruction and action movie mayhem. A PlayStation franchise exclusive since the release of the original Twisted Metal game back in 1995 for PS1, this most recent release is packed with unique weapons that emerge from demonic vehicles as players unfold the demented tale of a cast of characters, led by Sweet Tooth in story, co-op and online modes. The mayhem is ratcheted up in multiplayer modes with 2-4 player competing locally and up to 16 players online competing in a killer-take-all back and forth battle royale on wheels.
 

 
 
Uncharted: Golden Abyss (Sony) Rated T  PS Vita
 
Uncharted: Golden Abyss is a single player Adventure game that brings the trademark active gameplay of the Uncharted series to the small screen like never before. The most prominent of the launch title for the Sony PlayStation Vita handheld Golden Abyss features an all-new story revolving around the adventures of treasure hunter Nathan Drake, as well as controls optimized for play on the PS Vita. Features include: a combination of touch pad and motion-sensing controls, as well as Adventure and Puzzle-solving gameplay.
 
Uncover the dark secret behind the 400-year-old massacre of a Spanish expedition as Nathan Drake follows the murderous trail of an ancient and secret Spanish sect. Caught in the middle of a rivalry between his old friend, Jason Dante and Marisa Chase, the granddaughter of an archeologist who has mysteriously vanished without a trace, Nathan Drake races into the treacherous river basins, undiscovered temple ruins and karst caverns of Central America in search of a legendary lost city, only to find himself pushed to the edge of the Golden Abyss.
 
In addition to the standard analog stick controls found in Golden Abyss, PlayStation Vita's innovative control set brings a fresh feel to the well-known acrobatic and puzzle-oriented gameplay of the Uncharted game series. Using the handheld's front and rear touch pads players can more fluidly move laterally, or up and down a wall that Drake must explore. Touch functionality is also used to make charcoal rubbings of found relics, as well as arrange puzzle pieces into the correct configuration for puzzle-solving. Similarly, touch screens can be tapped to move Drake across non-continuous surfaces such as handholds at irregular increments, dilapidated bridge planks and tricky river crossings. Tapping is also utilized as a fast means of switching weapons in combat situations. In addition to this, the motion-sensing controls of the PS Vita's internal gyroscope allows players to balance Drake as he crosses slippery logs, and serves as an aiming method when shooting at enemies. In the latter situation, just point the Vita in the direction you want to shoot, line up you target and pull the trigger.
 

 
 
Hot shots golf: World Invitational (Sony) Rated E  PS Vita
 
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational is a handheld Arcade style golf simulation game released as a launch title for PlayStation Vita. Utilizing the innovative blend of touch-based, motion-sensing and camera-oriented controls of the new handheld, the game represents a completely new way to play Hot Shots Golf. Features include: touch and pinch functionality allowing in-game golfers to be moved at will, multiple possible camera angles, golfer upgrades and multiplayer support wirelessly between devices and through PlayStation Network. The over-the-top Hot Shots Golf franchise is back with a bag full of PlayStation Vita features that will have players hitting the links like never before. These features begin as soon as an in-game golfer is selected, dressed for the part and is lined up to tee off.
 
Use tap functionality to look down the fairway to get a better look at the pathway to the green, and when ready, place the golfer in the best position and at the best angle to take a shot using PS Vita pinch and front touch pad functionality. Once off the tee players can simultaneously maneuver their golfer and line up shots with a combination of the front sticks and the rear touch pad. Need to check your form with a different view of the shot? Players can easily change the camera angles of their golfer with an augmented reality feature. And mastering the PS Vita's motion sensing capabilities will allow for the addition of extra power on shots with a flick of the device. Points for success in a round can be used for in-game purchases, including new available golfers, new outfits, and even new clubs. Multiplayer support allows up to eight players locally, while literally dozens of players can compete on the same hole in play through PlayStation Network.
 
UFC Undisputed 3 (THQ) Rated T  PS3, XBox 360
 
UFC Undisputed 3 is a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting game in which players step into the iconic octagon fighting cage to battle in one-on-one action for the ultimate fighting championship (UFC). Just as in real MMA bouts, players of UFC Undisputed 3 use a variety of martial arts disciplines separated into striking and grappling techniques in an attempt to knockout an opponent, force him to submit or win a decision on points. The game features a huge roster of real UFC fighters in multiple weight classes, as well as a new submission system, simplified controls and an improved online component.
 
The critically acclaimed and best-selling MMA video game franchise returns to take players inside the Octagon with UFC Undisputed 3, delivering UFC action focused on intense toe-to-toe combat, impressive visual presentation and increased accessibility. One of the most exciting additions of UFC Undisputed 3 is the inclusion of the new Pride mode. Pride mode is a no-holds-barred Japanese MMA league that augments standard gameplay. Along with a separate belt, it brings with it brutal soccer-style kicks, head stomps and ground knees to the head that make for an entirely separate type of fight. The game also expands the available roster of real, playable fighters in-game to more than 150. The selection of fighters is spread across seven UFC weight classes and feature current superstars and classic fighters, as well as hungry up-and-coming fighters to look for in the UFC.
 
The game also features a brand new submission system, new ways to finish the fight and increased accessibility through both traditional and simplified gameplay controls. Players also experience the excitement of a live UFC event through significant visual improvements. Improvements include broadcasting from cage-side, new camera positions and the introduction of much-anticipated fighter entrances. Rounding out the UFC experience with a significantly improved online feature set, including new and updated offerings, UFC Undisputed 3 lets players have their fights – their way – to deliver the most competitive and engaging experience to date for the franchise.
 

 
 
Ultimate marvel Vs. Capcom 3  (capcom) PS Vita
 
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is multiplayer crossover fighting game featuring tag-team style combat between three-character teams of super heroes, super villains and other characters from the Marvel comics and Capcom universes. The game contains 12 new fighters, in addition to those found in earlier game versions. It also features new game modes including a spectator mode, and the 'Heroes and Heralds' Mode. The PS Vita version of the game is virtually identical to the console versions, while incorporating the handheld's touch controls and portability.
 
The highly acclaimed fighting series adds 12 new legends to the robust Marvel vs. Capcom 3 lineup, bringing the total overall roster of characters up to 50. This includes zombie-slayer Frank West on the Capcom side and cosmic defender Rocket Raccoon from the Marvel Universe. The new character options also include Phoenix Wright, Vergil, Nemesis, Strider and Firebrand from Capcom and Nova, Iron Fist, Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider and Hawkeye from Marvel.
 
FIFA Soccer 12 (EA Sports) Rated T PS Vita
 
EA SPORTS FIFA Soccer on PS Vita gives you the same physics-based, data driven technology that powers FIFA gameplay on PlayStation 3. Take part in eight different game modes, including 11 vs. 11, Tournament Mode with over 50 real-world competitions, a full in-depth Career Mode, and head-to-head online. Innovations that utilize a rear touch pad and touchscreen create an intelligent and unique gameplay experience. Rear touch pad shooting delivers pin-point accuracy and removes the element of "hit and hope" from shooting and touchscreen passing opens up the field of play for more creative and precision passing.
 
Rayman Origins (Ubisoft) Rated E PS Vita
 
Michel Ancel, celebrated creator of Rayman, Beyond Good & Evil and the Raving Rabbids returns to his roots to bring us Rayman Origins: a high-definition, 2D side-scrolling, platforming adventure! Play Rayman Origins and discover or rediscover the magical universe and legendary 2D gameplay that captured the hearts of millions of fans.
 
Little Deviants (Sony) Rated E  PS Vita
 
Little Deviants is an Arcade style mini-game collection focused on the Little Deviant characters ongoing attempts to escape from their robot enemies. The games in the collection are especially designed to focus players' attention on mastery of the various controls and features of PlayStation Vita, including front and rear touch screen input, tap and drag input, and motion sensor and rear camera functionality. The game contains more than 30 mini-games/levels, an online leaderboard, and local eight player multiplayer support through a single handheld.
 
In the game world of Little Deviants the spaceship of the fun-loving beings known as "Little Deviants" is shot down by their robot enemies, hurling the quirky, but lovable little creatures down to a new planet. Here it is up to the player to help the Little Deviants escape their robot pursuers through a large variety of mini-games especially designed for play on PlayStation Vita.
 
The compilation contains more than thirty games/levels, with mini-games falling into recognizable Arcade style mini-game formats. Each category of these utilizes the innovative controls of PlayStation Vita in a different way. Examples of this include, the Roll Hole Control game, which uses the rear touch screen and the motion sensing gyroscope of the Vita to raise a portion of the game screen, moving Little Deviants in the play area away from robots and towards vortexes that lead to different levels. Other game type examples include: Botz Blast which is an Arcade style Shooter utilizing the Vita's analog sticks to target and shoot attacking robots, and the House of Whacks, a carnival style Whack-a-Mole game utilizing touch screen tap input functionality. Success in games allows players to accumulate points allowing players to rise on the Little Deviants PlayStation Network leaderboards. The game also supports 8-player local multiplayer using a single console in Pass Around multiplayer mode.
 
Dungeon Hunter Alliance (Ubisoft) Rated T PS Vita
 
Dungeon Hunter Alliance is the first action RPG game for the PlayStation Vita handheld entertainment system that immerses you in a unique online multiplayer experience. Face the world of Gothicus and its hordes of evil creatures solo or in teams of up to four heroes. Test your skills in the main quest or numerous side quests as you explore the gothic universe. Push evil back to the depths of hell and put an end to the destructive ambitions of a tyrannical Queen who was once your beloved!
 
Tekken 3D Prime Edition (Namco) Rated T  3DS
 
 
Asphalt: Injection (Ubisoft) Rated E  PS Vita
 
Asphalt, the best arcade racing series on portable devices, now comes to the PS Vita with new and exclusive dual-stick, gyroscope and back panel controls. Master 10 different types of events to rule a full-featured Career mode with more than 100 races. Collect over 50 world-class luxury cars and drive them through exotic and beautiful locales in magnificent next-gen graphics. Discover new social features and share your best performances with your friends. Add more fuel to the fire with Asphalt: Injection!
 
Ben 10 Galactic Racing (D3) Rated E PS Vita
 
In BEN 10 Galactic Racing, the first racing game based on the popular BEN 10 television series on Cartoon Network, fans will enjoy a BEN 10 multiplayer experience in a galactic grand prix filled with surprises at every turn. Play as either Ben, Kevin or choose from 13 fan-favorite aliens. BEN 10 Galactic Racing presents the ultimate racing experience, where every character has a special ability to utilize on the race track and even Ben can transform into different aliens mid-race!
 
REVIEWS
 
Soul Calibur V (Namco/Bandai)
 
Soul Calibur V is the 6th installment in the long-running fighting game series from Bandai Namco and the first since 2008.  Without question this is the deepest and most complex entry yet in the series which is both the good news and the bad news.  The fighting mechanics have been noticeably improved since the last game and the developer, Project Soul deserves major kudos for how well the 2D fighting meshes so well with the 3D weapons system. 
 
The critical finishes of previous games are gone.  In its place is the Critical Gauge.  This meter is reminiscent of gauges of other games like Street Fighter IV that allows you to pull off powerful attacks.  These are now called “critical edge” attacks and produce a potent attack.  The attacks vary by character but are all input with the same command.  “Brave Edge” attacks are enhanced versions of your standard attacks.  These come in especially handy during combos, allowing you to deal out extra damage if you catch opponents off guard.  It’s important to note that using the Brave Edge attacks is the ONLY way in which you can pull off certain combos.  The Guard Impact move of previous editions has also been tweaked and now requires energy from the Critical Gauge to execute.  The cost of this is ¼ of the Critical Gauge, the same cost as using Brave Edge attacks.
 
Of course it is still possible to guard without wasting the Critical Gauge.  This is called, simply enough, “Just guard”.  It can be just as effective as the Guard Impact without using any of your gauge with one important caveat…you have to time its use almost perfectly.  If you pull it off at the precise moment of an attack it will result in a “perfect” guard and considerably shorten the amount of delay that the character must wait before retaliating.  The balance struck between the use of the Critical Gauge maneuvers, the time it takes to refill, and standard attacks is perfect, leading to games that aren’t won strictly with cheap moves, nor by constantly playing defense like a turtle.
 
The game comes with several modes: Story, Arcade , Vs, Quick Play, Training, Online Play, Legendary Souls and Creation.  Story mode is way too short as is often the case in fighting games but the most disappointing aspect is that Story should help run you through the some of the basic mechanics and it doesn’t do a very good job of this.  Quick play helps this by giving you a great variety of opponents over increasingly difficult levels to help you earn new titles.  Of course there is also the standard training mode.  Legendary Souls is geared towards true Soul Calibur veterans and you face off against ridiculously difficult A.I. opponents.  Online matches are smooth with well built lobbies and a spectator mode.
 
Creation is one of the great features of the game and has seen its share of improvements as well.  There’s an overwhelming set of options to create a character your way including altering their height, body parts, colothing, tattoos, changing the color and effects of weapons, etc…The sound and graphics of Soul Calibur V are fantastic.  The soundtrack music seems to hit the right notes all the time and adds a flair of cinematic drama to the fights.  While I’ve never considered the background graphics in a fighting game to be of great importance, you will still be delighted by the gorgeous designs of the arenas.  And as you may know Ezio Auditore from the acclaimed Assassin’s Creed series will be a playable guest character.
 
Despite a short story mode that will only take a couple of hours to complete, and a bit of a hole in learning the games ins and outs, Soul Calibur V is definitely a plus edition to the series.
Grade B
 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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1 
jedibanner 2/9/2012 7:46:15 AM

It's sad for Sony that, I know I'm a hard supporter of the PS3 but their PS Vista, I'm out.

I like my gaming on the big screen with special headseats with surround sound 6.1 DTS compared to a small screen in my hand with ok sound and maximum battery time and uncomfortable sitting playtime.

Sure it's fun if I'm 12 and travelling a lot with my familly but today, at my age...I dno't have a need for this and I'm pretty sure many gamers might feel the same way.

I hope twisted metal is good, birthday coming up so, would be a fun game to get.

decepticons2 2/9/2012 8:10:06 AM

You are so right jedibanner. You buy a 60 inch TV at home get speakers that scare the neighbours dogs and then the game you want is on a tiny little screen. Every PSvita and maybe PSP game for that matter should be available for download on PS3 at slightly improved graphics. Not a complete overhaul just a little buff.

On the whole Soul Caliber V first game I bought first day out in a long time. Online lobbies in geo colesso (however its spelled) Is good but rank matches alot of time end in an endless searching que.

scytheofluna 2/9/2012 4:51:52 PM

I guess it depends on how passionate you are about gaming as a medium.  I'm 32 and I put my preorder down on the Vita today.  I still play the hell out of my PSP, but then I also have an hour commute to work on public transit, and a wife who does occasionally like to watch stuff on the HDTV I usually game on.

Do I NEED a PSVita?  No, but it's an innovative piece of technology and there are lots of games that will only be available on that platform.  Sure, it's nice to wish that Sony would release Vita exclusives on the PS3, but that's like wishing that Infinity Blade would come out for the Kinect.  Exclusives are designed to sell hardware, and unlike the PSP there's no reason to release HD versions of Vita games for the PS3 because they're already HD.  Given that Uncharted: Golden Abyss is just the first of many Vita only titles on the horizon, you're either into it or you aren't.  Uncharted is a day one release, and there are already Killzone and Resistance titles in the works.  Little Big Planet, Infamous, God of War, etc. are all but assured Vita exclusive releases, and the likelihood that franchises like Metal Gear Solid, Assassin's Creed, Batman, Resident Evil and Mass Effect and Dead Space will find their way to the new handheld as well.  Marvel Vs. Capcom, Mortal Kombat 2011, and BIOSHOCK are already in the works as well. 

I for one couldn't bear having an empty spot next to the other games in the franchises I love.   I have an Ipod Touch so I can play Dead Space mobile, and Mass Effect Infiltrator when it comes out next month, I bought the PSP for the Grand Theft Auto and God of War titles and there are over a dozen other great games that came out over that system's lifespan. 

Eventually, I'll wind up with a 3DS too, but I'm holding out for the inevitable re-release where the second analog stick is integrated instead of an afterthought. 

So I guess you're either hardcore, or you aren't.  I'm excited about the Vita, and I'm not the only one.  The store where I preordered mine has taken almost it's entire preorder allocation, so obviously there's some interest.

scytheofluna 2/9/2012 5:02:21 PM

Neverdead DLC?  That game was universally panned.  I'll pass.

Stoked about playing as Ezio in Soul Calibur, but I can't see paying full price for a fighting game.  I'll probably wait until they drop the price in six months.

scytheofluna 2/9/2012 5:10:32 PM

BTW picked up Kingdoms of Amalur and The Darkness II on Tuesday and they are both fantastic.

jedibanner 2/9/2012 6:33:43 PM

Fair comment scyth, I guess I qualify as a medium gamer instead of a hardcore. I would'nt put up the money for a smaller item that I can enjoy similar thing on a larger one. But it's ok if some do (money ain't an issue, for me it's the reasoning for it).

Dazzler 2/10/2012 4:57:11 AM

I usually wait for price drops on games, but since I have been waiting years for a Twisted Metal game I might change my mind. 

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