With the deal that Amazon ran on the day after Thanksgiving, I decided to pick up the Assassin’s Creed Vita bundle (and promptly sold the Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale code for $20, thank you very much.)
After spending a few hours with it last night, I have to say that this is a pretty damn impressive piece of electronics. The screen is absolutely beautiful and the interface is so much more convenient than the 3DS ever has been for portable gaming. (Hell, I would say it’s easier to navigate than ICS on my Asus tablet as well.) The ability to open up a web browser while you are in a game, search for some sort of tip or info about the game that you’re playing, and then go right back to the game is such a smooth process. I have to say that it really amazed me as to how well they handled multi-tasking in the interface (and that might just be the newest firmware that allows it to be this good…but I’m not sure.)
As for the games that I messed around with last night, I decided to try out Jet Set Radio (thanks to it being free with PS Plus) and Hot Shots Golf.
One of the things that I had forgotten about Jet Set Radio was how hard the tutorial was coming into the game. One of the last things that they have you do is to pull off a 50 trick combo, but they don’t really teach you any of the things to do to complete a challenge that is that difficult. Thankfully, (somewhere in the dark caverns of my mind) I was able to remember a few of the things that you need to do to keep a combo going and I was able to finish the tutorial as well as the intro to the game. The game itself looks absolutely beautiful, the music is still as catchy as I remember, and it plays incredibly well with the dual analog sticks on the Vita. Well worth your time if you have a PS Plus account.
I wasn’t expecting too much of Hot Shots for the Vita, as I have been playing the games for the last 14 years (damn it’s hard to believe it’s been that long,) but I was really surprised at how well the Vita fits the game and what they were able to do with the interface.
Initially, I was a bit overwhelmed as to how to work with the touch screen on the system, as well as using the touch interface on the back panel, but it all becomes incredibly intuitive after a few minutes.
One of the first things that I found out about the game is that you can move your ball inside of the tee box. Just hold your finger on the ball and then slide it to the left or to the right in the tee box and the camera will adjust for where you are now hitting. What shocked me about that is that Hot Shots, an arcade golf game, is able to move the ball inside of the tee box, but EA Sports hasn’t been able to figure out a way to do this with Tiger Woods… um… ever. Funny, huh?
Moving back to the game, once you have your ball lined up in the tee box, you can hold your finger on the screen where you think you want to hit the ball and the camera will zoom to that location. You can then touch the back panel and slide your finger until you see a yellow line that gives you distances to where you are “touching on the course.” The benefit to that is that it will show you the distance to the hole from where you are aiming to hit, so that you can decide whether or not you want to plan on using a power shot, based on how close your next shot will be to the green. It’s such a small interface change to make, but it almost makes you feel like you’re using a yardage book on a course that lets you really line up how you want to play your shots for that particular hole.
Beyond the interface enhancements, it’s still Hot Shots, so you have a few different swing methods to play with and anime style characters to pick from.
The biggest issue that the Vita will have for me is the amount of memory that games take, and the proprietary memory cards. The 4 GB card that came with the bundle is pretty much used up from 2 downloaded games, and the cost of the 16 and 32 GB cards are pretty damn high at the moment. Hopefully there will be some holiday sales with price drops on the card, because that’s going to be my biggest annoyance with the system going forward.
Despite the memory card issues, my early impressions from my time with the Vita are very positive. Getting the system for the price that I did and having access to some pretty great games for the price that I paid has been a big win for me.