We take a look at the genres and titles that we’re longing to play on this glorious handheld.
There’s no doubt that the Vita is an excellent handheld console with an excellent library of games as a whole, but there’s also no doubt that it’s easy to find holes in that library – especially in North America and Europe. Some genres are almost completely absent in the West, and even more only include a small sprinkling of titles to choose from (some of which are a stretch to include at best). There are also some series’ that are on many/all other PlayStation platforms and yet haven’t been brought to Vita as well – many of them of the “system seller” variety.
Come with us on a journey through the glaring omissions the TVL team could find.
The PlayStation Vita is a mixed bag for sports. While it’s true we’ve got a few sports titles in the West, such as the FIFA and MLB: The Show series’, we’re missing some of the other big sports games like those in the NHL, NBA and PGA leagues, SSX, a 3D skateboarding title, and more. While previous iterations of PlayStation products have nearly all had versions of those video games, both the PlayStation Vita and more recently the PlayStation 4 seem to be missing some important ones which the library will be full of holes without.
Want to go snowboarding, skateboarding, play some hockey or dribble a ball (or maybe just have some variety in baseball/European football)? You’re out of luck for now – that is, unless you want to dig into some PSP/PSOne titles. The titles we have aren’t the best versions either – take a look at FIFA and Madden on Vita, for example.
FIFA 13 and 14 are simply re-skins of the launch title FIFA Football for Vita – a game now over two full years old. Madden 13 is simply a re-skin of Madden 12 for consoles with a few tweaks and the glaring omission of Online Franchise Mode. Not only that, but it’s sluggish (especially in menus) and the AI is sub-par – often not completing plays you’ve drawn out.
We need some EA Sports or 2K Sports love – or hell, we’ll even take newcomers if they’re willing to do the work to give us some decent games. We’re really not too picky – even those FIFA and Madden games I was harping on have sold relatively well despite their issues. Will someone please just take the hint and hook us up?
Though horror isn’t the most widely used genre in video games, there are quite a few staples that we expect to see on every system none-the-less. Like sports titles, it’s true the Vita has titles that can be considered “horror” – though in this case they’re simply few and far between (and some could argue, not very horrifying). Titles like Lone Survivor: Director’s Cut, Limbo and Silent Hill: Book of Memories touch on the horror genre, but only the first of those even attempts to be horrifying with any kind of success.
We’ve got no real version of Silent Hill (BoM is a bastardization in the form of a dungeon-crawler), no Resident Evil, no DOOM, nor Dead Space – all we’ve got at are a couple of games that only touch on the genre and a pixelated achiever. Titles like Outlast on the PlayStation 4 clearly show we still want to be scared, but it seems like nobody’s willing to try anymore.
First and Third Person Shooters
The Vita is seriously lacking in shooter titles that aren’t “shmup” style.
In the realm of first-person shooters, yes – we have the f$#%ing fantastic Killzone Mercenary, but what about those who like variety? Surely you’re not going to go back to playing Declassified or Burning Skies after feeling the greatness of Killzone, so what else can you play to mix it up? The truth is that Vita is seriously lacking in decent first person shooters. As much as I love Killzone, we need something different – like how Killzone was something different for the other PlayStation consoles. People like variety, and unless you want to play some very mediocre games, there’s nothing else in the FPS genre worth playing.
So how about third-person shooters? The Vita has Unit 13 and Uncharted – both of which are considered average or slightly above in gameplay, but not great nor stand-outs for any other reason (though we’ll admit, Uncharted looks great for being sub-native in resolution). Titles like Army of Two, Lost Planet, Just Cause and Mass Effect (which are prevalent titles among PlayStation consoles, if not staples) are completely missing from the Vita’s lineup. Other than the lone entry from defunct SOCOM developers and an Uncharted title that’s considered one of the weakest, we’ve got a pretty sad set of choices if you’re looking to shoot some baddies from over the shoulder of your favourite soldier or hero.
So, um, developers – you guys know this thing has dual analog sticks, right? That was the biggest qualm developers and players seemed to have with the PlayStation Portable, and yet it featured many first and third-person shooters over its lifetime. Coded Arms titles, Medal of Honor titles, Star Wars titles, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, Rainbow Six: Vegas, SOCOM: FireTeam Bravo series’, Dead to Rights: Reckoning, The Godfather, Syphon Filter titles, Resistance: Retribution and more were all present on the PSP, many of them considered good games despite their limitations.
C’mon developers; we clearly have the demand, where’s the supply?
Unless you want to play a zombie/nun-infused real-time strategy game or hunt down a copy of Patton’s Campaign (History: Legends of War), you’re pretty much out of luck for strategy titles. Prominent titles like Command and Conquer, Civilization the strategy titles in the Sims series and Valkyria Chronicles (which were present on PSP/PS3) are completely missing from the Vita’s line-up and there’s really very little in the way of replacements.
What’s even more of a shame is that strategy games seem to work so well on phones and tablets and yet see so little love on a piece of hardware better equipped to accept the vast array of inputs and controls they feature. These are form factors which share a lot of core features, and yet the Vita is the clear winner by simply including a solid set of hardware buttons and other inputs to compliment the lone touch screen developers have been given up ’til now.
Why are we not getting strategy games that take advantage of the Vita’s advantages?
Visual Novels (in the West)
While Japan (as usual) has a plethora of visual novels to choose from, the ones that have made it to the West are both well-loved and few-and-far-between. Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward is a well lauded title I hear talked about a lot around the message boards, and did well enough to get added to the Plus IGC (which I’m told only takes the best), while Danganronpa and Persona 4 Golden (which contains VN elements) are amazing games I can personally attest to.
Other than that though, we’re starving for visual novels in the West – if someone would hook us up (I’m looking at you XSEED/Aksys), I’m sure we’d buy enough of their titles to make it worth it.
Racing (sort of)
“Racing? But there’s a lot of racing games for Vita!” you might say – but then again you might not be in North America. While it’s true we did okay with first year racing games like F1 2011, Ridge Racer, Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, year two wasn’t anywhere near as kind. In February of 2013 us North Americans got our last proper release with MUD, though we received the long-delayed WRC3 not long after.
A full year later and we’re yet to see any real racing titles hit the Vita in North America (we’re still missing titles like MotoGP13 and WRC4 which hit Europe), and we’re all without staples in the Gran Turismo, Grid, DIRT and Nascar series’. We need more racing titles, and you know a Gran Turismo would be a system seller – the wait for the rev of some new engines is getting tiring.
Open World Titles
One of the biggest outcries since the launch of the Vita is that it’s lacking open world titles. Though a few games have come along that fill this criteria, they’re still few and few between – titles like Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Assassin’s Creed: Liberation and Gravity Rush do little to quell cries for games like Grand Theft Auto, inFamous and Skyrim. The open world titles we have appeal to a subset of users and not a giant group – we need those big open world RPG or action titles, and as of right now there are a few on the horizon (though they’re partly niche titles as well).
Titles like Akiba’s Trip 2 and Borderlands 2 hope to offer a more complete experience when they launch later this year in the West, but for now we’re twiddling our thumbs and eyeing that copy of Liberation we’ve all completed and are torn whether to even touch again.
While missing these titles in no way takes away from the awesomeness that is the Vita’s solid handheld library, it does give those considering purchases some pause. There are some omissions that are talked about so much that there’s little doubt a proper version would be what we consider a “console seller”, and yet we’ve heard no word about anyone paying those omissions any attention. Would we benefit greatly from an NHL or NBA title on Vita? Hell yes we would. Would GTA or Gran Turismo make people run out to their local game store and buy a Vita? You bet your ass!
Please; someone take heed of what we’re missing. Not that I’d wish them on anyone, but even mediocre titles in most of these genres would likely make a difference – and yet there seems to be little interest to get them out there. Are you guys wearing your sunglasses inside, or can you simply not see what’s right in front of you?
For the love of gaming, a little help please – we promise it’ll pay off.