Well in the course of one week, I’ve gone from being a potential fangirl for Sony’s PS Vita to being a hater. Part of this has to do with my problems with Unit 13, which I wrote to both Sony’s US division, and to their Italian techs, and I’m still waiting for an answer back. But the other problem is, I’ve just bought Shinobido 2, and less than ten missions into the game I feel ripped off. There are only a few locations used over and over for the same repetitive missions, the same character models are used in every level, and the combat controls are terrible. What little dialogue that isn’t delivered in text boxes is atrociously bad, being both poorly written and poorly acted.
At first, I was trying not to complain about the lousy combat system, since the game had a one-shot-one-kill method of dispatching common foes. I figured maybe the combat being so awful was like an intentional punishment for me not being sneaky enough. This idea was further bolstered by me picking up a new technique, again, a one-shot-one-kill maneuver. BUT, the first time I ran into a boss, the game put two big shit-covered middle fingers right up my nostrils, as if to say, “Oh, you paid full price for this game? TOO BAD, FUCKFACE! YOU LOSE, AND WE WIN! HAHAHAHAHA!”
See, at that point, you can’t target the boss for the newer technique. You can tap the icon, but the attack doesn’t even recognize him as an enemy. You can’t evade and then sneak up behind him for the other kind of killing blow, because he just grabs your sword. The fucker is armed with a musket that fires like a semi-auto, and that he never needs to reload. AND, if you dare to run away to take him from another angle, the fucker drinks healing potions. The game couldn’t be any more cheap in its tactics without the boss being telepathic.
This is one of many launch titles that are awful, and that don’t really use the Vita’s features. Aside from the second killing technique, all other menus and screens ignore touch input, and the menus are put together sloppy. The whole thing feels like a half-assed effort, but Sony is charging premium prices for this shit, like this is comparable to a PC or console game. It’s not. In fact, phone and browser-based games like Angry Birds offer more depth and fun than this.
What’s even more irritating is, I played a demo of Gravity Rush in Cannes just a few days before the Vita’s launch, a gorgeous game which uses all of the Vita’s features in new and unique ways. That’s the game I wanted to play on launch day, but Sony pulled a fucking bait and switch, pushing the release of Gravity Rush back to June while pushing out these lousy titles that cost a bundle, but don’t feel worth the cost.
I really want to like my Vita, but aside from Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Super Stardust Delta, the vast majority of the games I’ve bought are repetitive, dull, and have lousy controls. And yet this is Sony’s top tier launch lineup? Seriously? It’s no wonder the sales on the units do worse as the product gets out to more people. It’s because people like me who get burned by awful games go from pushing the console to pushing people away from buying it.
Last week, I was enthusiastically showing my Vita to EVERYONE who I could get to listen, based pretty much on my playing Uncharted and Super Stardust Delta. But then I bought Unit 13, and the game only plays in French if my system language is set to English. After a week of silence, Sony’s Italy tech support sent word that they had refunded my money, and that I should buy the game again, at which point, I’d find three files in my download list. Didn’t happen that way. I bought the game again, and when I downloaded the only file available on my download list, the installation locked up my Vita so hard, I thought I’d bricked the unit. I finally got the unit to start up, but Unit 13 still wasn’t working, and I was forced to restore the system to factory defaults, and then download the system update and all of my games again. And despite all of this trouble, Unit 13 still won’t play in English.
Because I got burned by Unit 13, I’m reluctant to buy any other titles online. The higher cost of buying a physical copy means that if a game is a dog, like Shinobido 2, I’m giving Sony extra cash as a reward for tricking me into a bait and switch campaign. They promised premium content for a premium price, but what they gave is lazy efforts that make the platform look unappealing.
I’m still holding out hope for Gravity Rush, and for the Vita version of Mortal Kombat, but at this point, my opinion of Sony’s initial offerings is that they’re half-baked concepts that do more to hurt Sony than to help them. My opinion could change if the next year brings better games for the console, but for now, my advice is DO NOT BUY A PS VITA. Pretty graphics aside, most of the games have nothing else to offer; not good game play, not good stories, and not anything resembling fun. (The worst sin of all for a video game to make.) Save your money and get yourself more games for your favorite home console, or for your PC. But for now, this portable wet dream has turned into a nightmare, and not because of the hardware. It’s because of lazy, greedy game makers who charge way too much for shit, and then pretend like that shit is really gold.
Self-published authors put more effort into their books than these game makers put into their titles, and the self-pub authors charge a lot less for a few hours of halfway decent entertainment. I wouldn’t be nearly as frustrated if these games were like 10 euros or so, because then I could just chalk it up to my own bad judgment. But after spending 50 euros, I’ve got a major hate boner for Namco Bandai because they made absolutely no effort to earn my money. The same goes for Zipper Interactive, makers of Unit 13. And this is exactly why I’m not lambasting the makers of Escape Plan or Mutant Blobs Attack, even though I gave both bad reviews. Those games were priced reasonably compared to what they had on offer.
So, Sony, I know you don’t really care what a lowly gamer like me thinks, but here’s the unvarnished truth: if you can’t pull your heads out of your asses and make some good games for the Vita this year, then it deserves to fail. Making great hardware is meaningless if every game you release is an insult to your market. So think long and hard about releasing more of the same crap at premium prices. And if you must release crap games, at least lower the prices to something more reasonable. Instead of 45-50 euros, consider pricing games at 10-30 euros. Or, make better games that justify their price tag. That could work too.
And for my readers, one more time with feeling: DO NOT BUY A PS VITA. It’s a waste of money, and you should wait until there are actually some games worth playing before you invest your cash in this new portable.