Jump to content


PS Vita Review


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 Malus121

Malus121

    Heroic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 284 posts
  • Location:Tokyo Japan

Posted 15 February 2012 - 05:38 AM

This still has some rough parts so I'll probably be updating this periodically if I have time.  

Background:  

I'll admit it, I'm a staunch Playstation fan, and an even bigger fan of the PSP. I was out there at 7:00 AM at a local store for the US launch in 2005, and was so impressed with the system I never looked back.  

I was ecstatic when Sony announced the Playstation Vita.  Seeing as I now live in Japan, I waited almost two hours for just 10 minutes with one at TGS, and was out early on the morning of October 15th ( the day preorders opened here in Japan) to reserve one.

I received my 3G Playstation Vita, along with an 8GB memory card and Uncharted Golden Abyss, on December 15th, and despite being in the middle of finishing up my master's thesis, still found plenty of time to play it.  

Seeing as it is launching in the US in just a few days, I thought I'd share my impressions with all of you in the hopes that they may provide a more down to earth perspective than those offered on the major review sites.  


The Hardware:  

As I'm sure you've heard elsewhere, the PS Vita is beautiful device with its 5 inch OLED Screen, and glossy black finish.  
The screen is absolutely gorgeous and very crisp.  While some people may have reservations about the all touch primary user interface, once you get used to it, its a dramatic improvement over XMB on the PSP.  

The PS Vita is powered by a four core CPU and GPU, and the amount of power available to developers really shows.  Titles such as Virtua Tennis 4 (the best looking/most realistic looking game on the system), Uncharted Golden Abyss, and Gravity Daze are a joy to behold in action.  While the visuals don’t quite approach the levels of the latest PS3 or 360 blockbusters, they’re a lot better than what you’d see on the Wii, 3DS, PSP or a smartphone.  Furthermore, Bend Studios (the developer behind Uncharted Golden Abyss) has made it clear that developers are still just scratching the surface of what the system is capable of, so its fair to expect that graphics will get significantly better over time (as they do with almost any system).

The analog sticks and action buttons are a little small, but after a few hours with the system you'll cease to notice or care.  That said, the start and select buttons ARE a bit too small and recessed, making them harder than they should be to access.  

One thing to note about the Vita is that along with its good looks, it is also, unfortunately a fingerprint and i would imagine scratch magnet, so be sure to get yourself a protective film (for the screen) and a case.  

Speaking of the case, while it doesn't come with the system this time, it’s easily the best designed case for a handheld system I've ever seen.  Its integrated in such a way that it hooks onto the system so that you can remove it for play and it will just hang onto the bottom of your system, waiting for when your done.  Even better, the case can be used as a stand if you want to watch movies or browse the web with the device.  

Getting back to the Vita itself, WiFi and 3G work as expected, although switching between them isn’t yet quite as seamless as I would like (when you start up the Vita its often in 3G mode and even when opening the Playstation store, it sometimes takes 10 seconds or so for it to hop onto WiFi)

The 3G capabilities of the Vita at present are not especially enticing, you do get GPS which is a nice bonus.  When combined with the always on internet which 3G provides, it is a definite plus.  One nice touch is that with the (new) Maps application, you can get directions if you're ever lost with a dead Smartphone.  

I wouldn't be surprised to see developers take greater advantage of both the GPS and 3G capabilities in future releases, and I would imagine the 3G plans will improve over time.  Considering the above and that in the US you are getting lots of special bundles which include the 3G model along with extra content, the US 3G version is an exponentially better value than it was in Japan and is definitely what I would recommend to those not wanting to risk buyers regret later on in the Vita’s life cycle.

Regarding the touch functionality and games, its actually quite useful.  You will likely initially find yourself frustrated when games force you to navigate menus and perform other critical functions using the touch screen.  Eventually however, it becomes second nature, and when you play a game which don’t have such functionality (I'm looking at you Tales of Innocence R) you'll realize just how much of an improvement it really is.  

Battery life is excellent with the PS Vita generally lasting around five hours when playing games with WiFi and 3G enabled (albeit not being used).  Although I haven’t’ done any scientific testing, I brought the Vita on a trans pacific flight with me (10 hours), and despite playing it quite a bit, I had enough battery life left over for about an hour or two of gaming on the train back.  This leads me to believe that in airplane mode you can definitely get over five hours (probably closer to six and a half or seven), although your millage (:P) may very.  

The Launch Lineup:  

Perhaps the Vita’s greatest strength is that it has one of the strongest launch lineups in the history of console gaming.  Uncharted Golden Abyss and Gravity Daze are both amazing AAA games (particularly Gravity Daze) which would be right at home on the PS3 (in terms of quality), while still making distinct use of the Vita’s unique features.  Other strong titles include Wipeout 2048 (which can actually play with the PS3 version), Lumines Electronic Symphony, Hot Shots Golf World Invitational, and much more.  Perhaps the best part about the Vita’s launch is that there is literally something for everyone, and for the most part they’re just good (without the qualifier of “for a handheld.”)

That’s not to say everything’s perfect, there’s certainly trashy money grabs (Ridge Racer), and disappointments (Army Corps of Hell, a game I waited two hours to play at TGS only to be immensely underwhelmed), but given overall level of excellence of what will be out on day one, what will be out within the “launch window” and what will be out in the next few months, I just can’t think of a stronger launch.

Conclusion:  Should you buy a Vita and should you buy it NOW?

In short, the answer to both of those questions is, IMO, an emphatic yes.  You’ll immediately gain access to a small but quickly growing library of excellent original games (even more if you’re willing to sign up for a Japanese PSN), and you’ll be demonstrating to both Sony and third party developers that there’s still a market for a “gamers’ portable.”  The hardware is excellent, and Sony has had more than enough time (two months) since the Japanese launch to work out any kinks in the hardware (which I never experienced).  

As to why you shouldn’t wait?  While a price drop is always possible, the Vita is already a great deal.  Consider, the 3G Vita is a far more powerful device than an iPhone 4S, yet costs less than half the price even if you factor in a memory card.  Furthermore, while this may sound self serving, the more people who buy in early on, the better the Vita’s chances of landing more high profile releases down the road.  

If portable gaming is your thing, go out and pick one up now, and if you don’t have the cash, start saving.

Hardware Score 9.5/10



Game Reviews:

Uncharted Golden Abyss

First a  quick confession, I’d actually never played an Uncharted game before touching abyss, despite owning a PS3 since 2008.  None the less, I’d heard good things about them, and it appeared to be the most impressive launch title, so I picked it up as my first Vita game.  


Graphics:  


The graphics in Uncharted Golden Abyss are amazing for a portable device, easily outclassing anything on the PSP, iOS, Android, or (from what I’ve seen as I don’t own one) the Nintendo 3DS.  

The environments are lush and the character models are well crafted with an amazing degree of motion capture adding a definite sense of realism to the game.  Where the game really shines however, is its lighting and shadows.  Watching ambient light sources selectively brighten the environment, reflect off objects, and caste detailed shadows, never ceases to amaze.  The depth which this adds to the experience easily make up for the game’s few visual flaws.

That said, the graphics aren’t perfect, textures could certainly be better in some areas, and the character models, while good, are not quite up to the standard of recent PS3/360 blockbusters.  Perhaps the most unfortunate thing is that, according to various sources, the game does not internally render at the screen’s native resolution, and I can attest to the fact that the up scaling process has a hard to define but noticeable impact on
perceived quality.  

While there have been some reports of the game dropping FPS amid heavy fighting in certain areas, I want to note that I never encountered (or at least noticed) this issue, and I don’t expect that it will negatively impact the majority of players.  
None the less, let me be clear when I say that the above complaints are really just nitpicking.  The graphics are still amazing in action, and the sheer fact that we can criticize them by comparing them to PS3 games says a lot about the increase in graphics horsepower it provides compared to other handheld devices.

Sound:  

The game’s musical score is very good, with a sufficiently epic quality to it which lends a very Hollywood-esqe feel.  Combined with excellent use of ambient sounds, the game’s audio compliments the graphics to really bring the game’s environments alive.  The (English) voice acting is top notch, with each actor/actress bringing a level of believability rarely seen in video games to their character.   That said, I’d stay away from the Japanese VA as its pretty bad in comparison.

Controls:  


The game handles very well for the most part.  Everything from climbing to shooting works as it should (that is to say, as it would on the PS3), and the controls feel very responsive.  As for the game’s use of the touch screen and other features, it's a bit of a mixed bag.  

Navigating the menus with the touch screen SHOULD be easy, but the game insistence of forcing you to swipe left and right to navigate the main menu is just dumb and frustrating (why can’t I just CLICK on the option I want).  That said, aside from the main menu, the touch navigation works well as expected.  

The in game use of touch is similarly double edged.  The “rubbing sequences” where you have to dust off an artifact with your finger are somewhat interesting, but can certainly grow tedious over the course of the game.  On the other hand, rotating torn up pieces of a map, or broken pieces of an artifact and then moving them into place with your finger feels very natural, and makes for interesting (if often slightly easy) puzzles.  

The forced usage of touch in melee combat in Uncharted is disappointing as, unlike Gravity Daze, it results in a dumbing down of the meelee combat.  While I personally don’t think its bad, it could certainly have been implemented a lot better.  Then again, if all melee combat consists of in other uncharted games is tapping square repeatedly, then perhaps this actually represents an improvement.  

You can also optionally use the rear touch panel to climb ropes, the and the touch screen to scale walls (just click where you want to go).  This works well, and while I imagine most people will just use the face buttons for this, its certainly nice to have the option.

Perhaps the most impressive use of these features however, is a certain scene in which you must hold an artifact up to a light in order to decipher a message on it.  Apparently the Vita’s Rear Touch Panel is light sensitive, as this involves tilting the rear of the Vita towards a light source to “peer through.”  It may not sound like much, but I assure you, when you experience it, you’ll be impressed.  This gives us a taste of the kinds of things creative developers could do to provide a truly unique vita experience.  

Story:

Without spoiling anything, I think it is safe to say that Uncharted Golden Abyss has a compelling story, and a great caste.  The game is sufficiently long (well over 10 hours), providing ample time for the story to flesh itself out.  

Conclusion:  

Although its not perfect, Uncharted Golden Abyss is easily the most impressive launch title EVER.  It has an excellent story, backed up by impressive graphics, sound, and controls, which really showcase what the system is capable of.  While it sometimes takes the aforementioned desire to “showcase” the system’s various capabilities too far, and suffers from some minor visual issues, these are all easily overlooked when one considered that the developers at Bend Studios have managed to squeeze a full fledged AAA Uncharted game onto a handheld.

Score: 8.8/10

Next up will be Gravity Daze (Gravity Rush in the States).

Let me know if you guys have any other questions you'd like me to answer, and feel free to offer feedback on the review itself.
27" iMac, 2.8Ghz Quad Core i5, 8GB of ram, 1TB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 6770M w/ 512 Vram
13" Macbook Air, 1.86Ghz Core 2 Duo, 4GB of Ram, 128GB SSD, Nvidia Geforce 320M

Playstation Vita (JP 3G Model), 8GB Memory Card, Uncharted Golden Abyss, Gravity Daze, Tales of Innocence R
Playstation 3 (Lots of games..)
27" iMac..... Awesome
Playstation Vita = Amazing

#2 dojoboy

dojoboy

    DJJ is the greatest!

  • IMG Pro Users
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3388 posts
  • Steam ID:dojoboy65
  • Location:Tansi (USA)
  • Pro Member:Yes

Posted 15 February 2012 - 08:25 AM

So, it's not also a phone? I thought I read (some time ago) they were looking to making it a juiced-up PSP with phone capabilities.

Thanks for the review. That took some time to type. I'll likely not make the purchase. We have a PS3, but for years have been more a Nintendo family. And, my 10-year old seems happy enough with his iPod touch for mobile gaming.
"There is no end to sorrow."  ---Van Gogh

#3 Frost

Frost

    PowerPC Inside

  • Forum Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5165 posts
  • Steam ID:CaptFrost
  • Location:Republic of Texas
  • Pro Member:Yes

Posted 15 February 2012 - 09:20 AM

If anything were to tempt me to buy a handheld (I have not bought one since the Sega Game Gear, which was in the mid-Jurassic in electronics years), it'd be the Vita despite the silly name. That said, I don't think I'll be going for it, at least not right now, but Sony's got mega props from me for putting an OLED screen on it. Maybe this'll help drive small OLED prices down so that the iPad 4 will have one too.

Gaming on LCDs is ass what with the lag and the drastically inferior color even on the best of them, and is why I still have a monster 100 pound CAD-grade CRT hooked up to my tower for gaming. I'm holding out until OLED moves in... and it looks like I've just about made it since it's finally appearing on consumer devices.
Cypher (PowerMac G5 Quad) – 2x2.5 GHz PPC 970MP / 16GB ECC RAM / 1TB WDC Velociraptor, 2TB STX Constellation ES.2 / QuadroFX 4500 512MB
Kestrel (Falcon NW Tiki) – 4.2 GHz Ci7 4770K / 16GB RAM / 512GB Crucial M550 M.2, 2x480GB Intel 730 (RAID0), 3TB STX Barracuda / GeForce GTX TITAN 6GB
Chromium (MacBook Pro Early 2008) – 2.6 GHz C2D T9500 / 4GB RAM / 960GB Crucial M500 / GeForce 8600M GT 512MB
Antimony (PowerBook G4 Titanium) – 1.0 GHz PPC 7455 / 1GB RAM / 480GB OWC Mercury Legacy Pro / Radeon 9000 64MB

Eric5h5:
When there's a multiplayer version, I'm going to be on Frost's team. Well, except he doesn't seem to actually need a team...I mean, what's the point? "Hey look, it's Frost and His Merry Gang of Useless Hangers-On!" Or something.

#4 Malus121

Malus121

    Heroic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 284 posts
  • Location:Tokyo Japan

Posted 15 February 2012 - 09:26 AM

View Postdojoboy, on 15 February 2012 - 08:25 AM, said:

So, it's not also a phone? I thought I read (some time ago) they were looking to making it a juiced-up PSP with phone capabilities.

Thanks for the review. That took some time to type. I'll likely not make the purchase. We have a PS3, but for years have been more a Nintendo family. And, my 10-year old seems happy enough with his iPod touch for mobile gaming.

No its not a phone...

That (the Experia Play) was a very different project, headed up I believe by the Ericson Europe arm of the former Sony-Ericson mobile phone partnership.  Although Sony ended up taking it under their wing when they bought out Ericson, its not really a Sony Computer Entertainment project, and I'd recommend staying away from it (I saw it at TGS and wasn't impressed at all).  

None the less, the PS Vita has WiFi, 3G, a Mic, and two cameras so I'm sure that Skype will be ported over at some point...

Maybe I'll adda  section comparing it to smartphone gaming so people have a better idea on the differences.
27" iMac, 2.8Ghz Quad Core i5, 8GB of ram, 1TB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 6770M w/ 512 Vram
13" Macbook Air, 1.86Ghz Core 2 Duo, 4GB of Ram, 128GB SSD, Nvidia Geforce 320M

Playstation Vita (JP 3G Model), 8GB Memory Card, Uncharted Golden Abyss, Gravity Daze, Tales of Innocence R
Playstation 3 (Lots of games..)
27" iMac..... Awesome
Playstation Vita = Amazing

#5 teflon

teflon

    Bastard of the Popeye Analogy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9589 posts
  • Location:London, UK

Posted 15 February 2012 - 12:38 PM

Skype is on there right away. It'll just be a downloadable app.

Also, WipEout. Though I hear they're releasing other games for it too...

Hence me buying on day 1.


As for OLED screns, I think that's still a way off from Apple's line up. At least 2 years, anyway. OLED will push past 300dpi in the not too distant future, at which point they'll be able to get 6x the number of iPhone sized screens for every 1 iPad screen size. iPad sales are well above 1/6th of iPhone sales, so that route makes much more sense to me.
Polytetrafluoroethylene to my friends.

Macbook Pro - C2D 2.4Ghz / 4GB RAM / Samsung 830 256GB SSD / Geforce 8600M GT 256Mb / 15.4"
Cube - G4 1.7Ghz 7448 / 1.5GB RAM / Samsung Spinpoint 250GB / Geforce 6200 256Mb
Self-built PC - C2Q Q8300 2.5Ghz / 4GB RAM / Samsung 830 256GB SSD / Radeon 7850 OC 1GB / W7 x64
and a beautiful HP LP2475w 24" H-IPS monitor

#6 Ichigo27

Ichigo27

    NSFW o_O

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2199 posts
  • Location:pingas

Posted 15 February 2012 - 09:05 PM

Gravity Daze sounds interesting. I like how WipEout and uncharted are on the Vita. However, I don't have the money to shell out a Vita. After feeling disappointed playing the 3DS, I'm interested as to what developers are going to open to Vita development.
What is a man?

#7 Sneaky Snake

Sneaky Snake

    Official Mascot of the 1988 Winter Olympics

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2684 posts
  • Steam Name:SneakySnake
  • Steam ID:sneaky_snake
  • Location:Waterloo, Canada

Posted 15 February 2012 - 09:08 PM

How long does the battery last when your not gaming, like when listening to music, web browsing, or just in stand by etc.
- Snake

Tulkas - 8 Xeon Cores @ 2.8 GHz || 16 GB RAM || ATi 4870  ||  512 GB Crucial M500 + 2 TB WD Black || OS X Mavericks
Odinheim - Core i3 4150 @ 3.5 GHz || 16 GB RAM || GTX 760  || 120 GB Vertex 4 + 1 TB Seagate SSHD || Win 7 Pro x64

#8 Malus121

Malus121

    Heroic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 284 posts
  • Location:Tokyo Japan

Posted 16 February 2012 - 04:02 AM

View PostSneaky Snake, on 15 February 2012 - 09:08 PM, said:

How long does the battery last when your not gaming, like when listening to music, web browsing, or just in stand by etc.

Hmmm, to be honest I never really use the system for anything other than gaming, browsing PSN, and the occasional web page, so I don't really know how long the battery would last in those situations.

That said, Sony's been pretty honest and even generous with their battery estimates for gaming (they say 3-5 hours, and with 3G off you'll easily make 5 hours), so I'd imagine their other official battery estimates aren't too far off the mark.

What I will say is that, coming from an iPhone, the Web browsing experience could use quite a bit of work.  While its certainly functional, the touch screen feels slightly "off" and inaccurate in this role, and its just not a very intuitive experience (that said, with the touchscreen its light years ahead of any home console browser in usability).  Hopefully this will be improved over time.  

I'm also interested in encoding videos for the Vita, so perhaps over the next few days I'll encode something, set it on a loop, and see how long the battery lasts (I probably need to cycle it anyway).
27" iMac, 2.8Ghz Quad Core i5, 8GB of ram, 1TB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 6770M w/ 512 Vram
13" Macbook Air, 1.86Ghz Core 2 Duo, 4GB of Ram, 128GB SSD, Nvidia Geforce 320M

Playstation Vita (JP 3G Model), 8GB Memory Card, Uncharted Golden Abyss, Gravity Daze, Tales of Innocence R
Playstation 3 (Lots of games..)
27" iMac..... Awesome
Playstation Vita = Amazing

#9 teflon

teflon

    Bastard of the Popeye Analogy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9589 posts
  • Location:London, UK

Posted 16 February 2012 - 02:47 PM

The web browser in the Vita was designed with the idea that it'd have Flash. With mobile Flash EoL, it's completely borked, and I think Sony are going to quite quickly re-tool it to handle HTML5 and so on in the next few months. If they don't, then shame on them, but the recent improvements to the PS3's browser show at least a modicum of intent in this area.
Until then, it's total garbage.
Polytetrafluoroethylene to my friends.

Macbook Pro - C2D 2.4Ghz / 4GB RAM / Samsung 830 256GB SSD / Geforce 8600M GT 256Mb / 15.4"
Cube - G4 1.7Ghz 7448 / 1.5GB RAM / Samsung Spinpoint 250GB / Geforce 6200 256Mb
Self-built PC - C2Q Q8300 2.5Ghz / 4GB RAM / Samsung 830 256GB SSD / Radeon 7850 OC 1GB / W7 x64
and a beautiful HP LP2475w 24" H-IPS monitor

#10 Tetsuya

Tetsuya

    Master Blaster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1974 posts
  • Location:MI

Posted 18 February 2012 - 01:04 AM

I have giant stacks of games that i still haven't played just for PC, let alone the PS3 and Xbox 360 that sit in my living room, largely unplayed.  Im two seasons behind on some TV shows i like, and have more than 20 novels by authors that i follow regularly that im behind.. not to mention trying to find new authors.

No way i could justify spending money on something like the Vita.

#11 teflon

teflon

    Bastard of the Popeye Analogy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9589 posts
  • Location:London, UK

Posted 22 February 2012 - 08:47 PM

WiFi reception is abysmal. Also keeps forgetting to reconnect on wake up.
3G reception is pretty good, actually.
All plastic, unfortunately. Would have been absolutely astounding is put through the iPhone 4 set of materials.
The OLED screen is absolutely gorgeous
It's very, very bright, even on minimum. It will burn off your retinas in a dark room. Shame, since the iPhone has a much wider range of brightness.
Very quirky and slightly maddening OS design and layout. Oh well, that's Sony for you.

All in all, I love it. Those are just a few points I thought I'd share.

Hottest game so far is MotorStorm: RC. It's fantastic fun, and for your money you get it on both PSVita and PS3. Absolute steal. Get it. Now.
Polytetrafluoroethylene to my friends.

Macbook Pro - C2D 2.4Ghz / 4GB RAM / Samsung 830 256GB SSD / Geforce 8600M GT 256Mb / 15.4"
Cube - G4 1.7Ghz 7448 / 1.5GB RAM / Samsung Spinpoint 250GB / Geforce 6200 256Mb
Self-built PC - C2Q Q8300 2.5Ghz / 4GB RAM / Samsung 830 256GB SSD / Radeon 7850 OC 1GB / W7 x64
and a beautiful HP LP2475w 24" H-IPS monitor

#12 Malus121

Malus121

    Heroic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 284 posts
  • Location:Tokyo Japan

Posted 08 March 2012 - 01:47 AM

Hmm unfortunately it looks like I can no longer edit the original post.... (if a moderator would be so kind as to help I would really appreciate it)

Anyway

I'm sorry it took so long but, here is my review of Gravity Daze


Gravity Daze Review

If you’ve been following the Playstation Vita for any significant amount of time since its announcement, you’ve probably heard of Gravity Daze.  It, along with Uncharted Golden Abyss, has gotten more press than most of the other Vita games combined, and the initial feedback has been incredibly positive.  The question then is of course, does it live up to the hype?  

Story/Setting:

The basic premise of Gravity Daze is that you are a young woman who wakes up with no memory in the middle of an unknown town with the unique ability to manipulate the forces of gravity bestowed upon you by a mysterious cat.  
The town itself is actually floating in the middle of space/the sky/something  and is being gradually encroached upon and sealed away by a mysterious evil force.  Your goal is to gain the trust and respect of the townspeople, unravel the mysterious evil engulfing the city, and uncover clues as to your own past.
The story shies away from being overly “epic” (ala Final Fantasy XIII), focusing instead on weaving a more personal narrative which is both quaint and very engrossing.  This story is told primarily through comic book style cut scenes, with occasional voice over’s in French (yes French), which add to the game’s unique atmosphere.
The main story, which is broken up into chapters which generally take between 30 minutes to an hour, reveals itself to you in bits and pieces, tantalizing you to finish one more mission to unlock another piece.
The game also has a myriad array of side quests, which are gradually unlocked as you restore various sections of the town to life.  Unfortunately the degree of variety in these side quests is somewhat limited, with the vast majority being a timed beat

Presentation:

Gravity Daze is easily one of the best looking games on the Vita.  The character models, lighting, and shadows are all very good, and while it can’t match Uncharted Golden Abyss or Sega’s Virtua Tennis for photo realism, the cel shaded graphics should make it immediately clear that this is not what the game has set out to do.  Instead, the game features beautifully cel-shaded characters and environments, which look very good on a technical level, and are absolutely gorgeous in motion.  
In fact, Gravity Daze features some of the most focused and amazing art direction I’ve ever seen in a video game.  It has a very Ghibli-esque animated style that subtly oozes from every pore, carefully molding an atmosphere that manages to feel both whimsical and oppressive at the same time.  This is one of those rare games whose art direction will be appreciated long after the Vita’s graphical prowess has been relegated to the dustbin of history.  
While the game occasionally suffers from minor but noticeable frame rate hiccups, they are not significant enough to impair game play in any way.  In a similar vein, the textures in some areas could certainly be higher resolution, and the shadows could really use anti aliasing, but you’ll be hard pressed to notice these issues when the game is in motion.  Finally the game is rumored to be running upscaled (that is it renders internally at a lower resolution and then upscales the output to the Vita’s native 960 by 544), but any negative effects are much less noticeable than in Uncharted.
The above are of course just nitpicks to a game which truly feels like it achieves everything it set out to achieve graphically on the system its on, combined with beautiful art direction which leaves little to be desired.  While it may not have the most impressive graphics on paper, it is probably the most gorgeous to actually play.

Sound:

Its not every day that you play a game and immediately wonder when its soundtrack will go on sale, but this is certainly one of those games.  The music stands shoulder to shoulder with the graphics in achieving the game’s artistic vision, and is an important piece of giving each new area its own unique feel.  The tunes span from whimsical, to upbeat, to oppressive, and range from jazzy to orchestral in composition.  While certain tracks are most definitely overused (I’m looking at you side missions which use the game’s default “action music” over and over again), this only detracts slightly from what is otherwise a very impressive package.  
While it lacks the depth and breadth of some of the best classic RPG soundtracks, it is nonetheless an excellent body of work and an essential part of the game.

Controls:

Designing a game where the player is able to manipulate gravity at will is, by its very nature a very ambitious project, particularly in regards to coming up with an adequate control scheme.  When you add in the zeal of developers breaking in new hardware with new input methods as in the case of the Vita, it’s easy to imagine how Gravity Daze could have turned into a complete mess.
Fortunately that’s not what happened here.  The overall control scheme works well, and while it certainly has frustrating rough spots and a significant learning curve for certain moves, it also makes excellent use of the Vita’s auxiliary input methods, touch and the gyroscope (sorry no back panel touch for this game).  Swiping the screen to dodge enemy attacks and (in combination with the attack button) to perform a roll kick feels surprisingly natural and very effective, as does using the gyroscope to tweak your aim (ala Uncharted).  Moving, aiming, jumping, attacking, and manipulating gravity are all done with the analog sticks and face buttons and work great as well.
That said, its not perfect.  Trying to land the “Gravity Kick,” in which the main character flies at the enemy in a sort of super powered extended jump kick can be challenging even once you get the hang of adjusting your aim mid flight, and the frustration is compounded by certain enemies who have the annoying, if understandable habit of moving out of the way at the last second.  Furthermore, it certainly feels like it is precisely because this mechanic is unrefined that the developers had no choice but to render the A.I. somewhat brain dead, and this is made very clear when you face certain “human” boss opponents who zig zag and are very hard to hit.
Of course, no review of Gravity Daze’s controls would be complete without mentioning the “Gravity Slide.”  If you’ve watched any promotional material for the game, you’ve undoubtedly seen the heroine zipping around town hovering just above the ground in a sliding or drifting type motion.  This is the Gravity Slide, and it is certainly the fastest (and slickest) way to get around on a surface (be it the ground, a wall, or the ceiling).  
That said, learning to control the Gravity Slide will test your patience.  To use it you hold (with your thumbs) the left and right side of the screen, and tilt the Vita left or right to steer (she moves in a straight line by default), and up to jump.  You can also break for hard turns by letting go of only one side of the screen, which makes turning and thus control monumentally easier, and is necessary to really get anywhere with the ability.  
I really have mixed feelings about this ability, when it works well, it's exhilarating to use and a treat to behold, but sometimes I can’t help but feel it might have controlled a bit better if they had stuck with conventional controls instead of relying on the gyroscope.  That said, practice makes perfect, and if you take the time to learn it, it will become an indispensable tool in your gravity arsenal, that is, as long as you don’t mind people around you wondering what the heck you’re doing…

Conclusion:

Gravity Daze is one of those rare games whose whole far exceeds the sum of its none the less excellent parts.  Its beautiful presentation, whimsical musical score, atmospheric setting, and engaging story are all drawn together with the game’s unique concept to create an unforgettable package.  It is rare indeed that such an ambitious and original concept is executed so well, particularly as a launch window title on new hardware.  
While the game is not without its flaws and foibles, they rarely detract from the overall experience, and it is this ability to rise above its component parts that really sets Gravity Daze apart from its competitors.
In the end, while Uncharted Golden Abyss is merely a good crossover of an excellent console game, Gravity Daze comes off as a beautifully executed masterpiece, creating a whole new world which can only be experienced on the Vita.  
Gravity Daze is one of those rare games that will be remembered and emulated long after the sunset of the PS Vita hardware.  Whether you’re buying a Vita today, tomorrow, or ten years from now, Gravity Daze should undoubtedly be one of the first games you play.
Score 9.5/10

Let me know what you guys think~ :) (Should I have just made another topic?)
27" iMac, 2.8Ghz Quad Core i5, 8GB of ram, 1TB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 6770M w/ 512 Vram
13" Macbook Air, 1.86Ghz Core 2 Duo, 4GB of Ram, 128GB SSD, Nvidia Geforce 320M

Playstation Vita (JP 3G Model), 8GB Memory Card, Uncharted Golden Abyss, Gravity Daze, Tales of Innocence R
Playstation 3 (Lots of games..)
27" iMac..... Awesome
Playstation Vita = Amazing

#13 teflon

teflon

    Bastard of the Popeye Analogy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9589 posts
  • Location:London, UK

Posted 08 March 2012 - 10:13 AM

I so want Gravity Daze. I refuse to call it Gravity Rush, by the way, which is the EU/US title for the game. Stupid, pointless renames suck.

Can't wait for it reach the rest of the world.
Polytetrafluoroethylene to my friends.

Macbook Pro - C2D 2.4Ghz / 4GB RAM / Samsung 830 256GB SSD / Geforce 8600M GT 256Mb / 15.4"
Cube - G4 1.7Ghz 7448 / 1.5GB RAM / Samsung Spinpoint 250GB / Geforce 6200 256Mb
Self-built PC - C2Q Q8300 2.5Ghz / 4GB RAM / Samsung 830 256GB SSD / Radeon 7850 OC 1GB / W7 x64
and a beautiful HP LP2475w 24" H-IPS monitor

#14 Ichigo27

Ichigo27

    NSFW o_O

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2199 posts
  • Location:pingas

Posted 10 March 2012 - 10:57 PM

Ended up looking around best buy the other day, and found a Playstation Vita kiosk. Did anyone here have issues getting use to the touchscreen? Cause when I played it I had issues getting the screen to work well.

Tried the gravity rush/daze demo, thought it was decent, but had some issues getting use to the gravity option. Plus I thought it had a cheap quality to it when it came to a couple of dialogue scenes relying on still pictures instead of character animations.

If the screen isn't wacky with the regular retail Vita then I will wait until a price drop. 3DS isn't looking great either with it's current line up of games. And if LBP is worth playing, that would be another game worth looking out for.
What is a man?

#15 Malus121

Malus121

    Heroic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 284 posts
  • Location:Tokyo Japan

Posted 12 March 2012 - 03:53 AM

View PostIchigo27, on 10 March 2012 - 10:57 PM, said:

Ended up looking around best buy the other day, and found a Playstation Vita kiosk. Did anyone here have issues getting use to the touchscreen? Cause when I played it I had issues getting the screen to work well.

Tried the gravity rush/daze demo, thought it was decent, but had some issues getting use to the gravity option. Plus I thought it had a cheap quality to it when it came to a couple of dialogue scenes relying on still pictures instead of character animations.

If the screen isn't wacky with the regular retail Vita then I will wait until a price drop. 3DS isn't looking great either with it's current line up of games. And if LBP is worth playing, that would be another game worth looking out for.

Hmmm, while I definitely think the unit you were using at Best Buy may have been wonky or improperly calibrated (there may have been touchscreen calibration in the setup, I no longer remember), this reminds me of something I should have brought up in the review.  

While the Touch Screen on the Vita certainly isn't bad, its also not an iPhone/iPad and has a noticeably different feel.  If you're coming from one of those devices, you'll likely feel that something is somewhat off for your first day or so of use.  This is particularly noticeable in the web browser, which is much less refined than its iOS equivalent.  

That said, once you get used to the different feel of the Vita's touch screen, you'll most likely cease to notice it even if you use an iOS device on a daily basis.  Furthermore, the difference in feel has no discernible impact on gameplay or menu navigation.  

As for Gravity Daze, yes the controls take some getting used to and the gravity manipulation mechanic can be disconcerting at times.  That said, while they're not perfect, once you've spent some time getting the basic mechanics down, the game controls fairly well aside from the issues I mentioned in the review.

While I can understand the desire for all dialog to be animated (and thus voiced), this was not the path the designers chose to take probably due to concerns both stylistic and financial.  None the less, the comic book style story scenes are excellently done, and I almost feel that relying on still pictures allows the game to evoke its style better.  Whether you agree with me or not, I feel like if you spend some more time with the game this will bother you less (and this comes from someone who doesn't particularly enjoy doing lots of reading in Japanese).

One last thing, if you have the opportunity, try the Vita (and Gravity Daze) in a better environment, take it before reserving judgement.  I know when a friend and I handled Vita's at both TGS (terrible) and an electronics store before release (better but still not great), it was a very different and less satisfying experience than using one in a less restrictive and more natural environment.  The limitations of a kiosk really just don't do the thing justice...

Anyway, hope that helps.
27" iMac, 2.8Ghz Quad Core i5, 8GB of ram, 1TB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 6770M w/ 512 Vram
13" Macbook Air, 1.86Ghz Core 2 Duo, 4GB of Ram, 128GB SSD, Nvidia Geforce 320M

Playstation Vita (JP 3G Model), 8GB Memory Card, Uncharted Golden Abyss, Gravity Daze, Tales of Innocence R
Playstation 3 (Lots of games..)
27" iMac..... Awesome
Playstation Vita = Amazing