Sony invites you to a convivial evening of DJ-mixed tunes and face time with rows of demo units: the Vita Room. We sent Colin Gallacher to the swankiest console promotion in the UK.
Vita Room – UK Tour
Birmingham – Cancelled.
Manchester – Ran from January 13-18
Glasgow – Until January 29
London – February 17 – 23, details TBA
With Vita’s UK launch less than a month a way, the Sony hype and marketing campaign – the largest it has ever conducted – is in full swing. You can see it nearly everywhere now; on TV, in full-blown newspaper promotions and enough online ads to make you think Sony bought the internet. Sony’s also trying something a little different this time, in the form of the PS Vita Rooms, inviting consumers to try out their new device in three cities around the UK; Manchester, Glasgow and London.
Glasgow’s Vita Room is being held on Sauchiehall Street, a prime location for shoppers and tourists. Fitted out with a white and cool blue exterior, it was turning the heads of most people walking past. The inside has been decked out with Playstation Vita’s attached to different sections of the interiors walls, each showing off a different launch title. A DJ was positioned in the middle of the ground floor. Nearly all of the excellent team and helpers behind the floorshow at the Eurogamer Expo were on hand to provide help on any Vita-related questions, hand out snacks and just generally chat.
But I wasn’t there just to mingle with the Vita crew and the WipEout girl – Vita has games, too, and four in particular are really worth considering for launch.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
It’s pretty evident that Nathan Drake’s portable debut is Vita’s first system-seller. The queue to reach the Uncharted stand at the back of the room was constantly around 80 people strong.
Two chapters taken from the final game were on display. “Why’s the building on fire?” drops the player into the rather warm boots of Drake as he attempts to escape a blaze. The second section was from chapter 11, and featured sniping gameplay involving motion controls.
Both levels showed off new features only capable on Vita, such as using touch gestures on the very responsive OLED screen to cut through fabric, moving along pipes and physically tilting the console to find targets to snipe. Graphically, while a little jaggy at times, it’s pretty amazing: near PS3 quality in your hands was only a pipe dream even a few years ago; now it’s the reality.
With no Gran Turismo game spotted for the near or even distant future, it falls on Sony’s other long-running racing series to step up as Vita’s launch racer. The demo on show had four tracks available and a special unit pitting a Vita user against a PS3 user to show off cross-platform capabilities. The graphics are as fast and fluid as anything you’d expect from a WipEout title; highly polished and beautiful. The other stand-out point would be the controls; piloting the exceptionally fast ships is a breeze, whether you’re using the Vita’s analog stick or the accelerometer. It definitely doesn’t feel like the sort of portable experience of past generations.
This gem will be available on the PSN Store at launch or very soon after. Developed by Evolution Studios, it adds a fun twist to the MotorStorm series. The cars of the PS3 counterpart have been replaced with remote control versions of the same vehicles, making it quite the pint-sized affair. Locations are based on all four MotorStorm games to date, meaning you get dusty desert circuits from the first in the series, all the way up to the apocalyptic city circuits from MotorStorm Apocalypse. It’s played from an isometric, top-down perspective, making it really feel like a throwback to games like Micro Machines. Quite a bit of emphasis has been placed on the competitive leaderboards and challenging friends, and when you buy it you get it for both PS3 and Vita, allowing you to play wherever you are. I found myself getting quite into it very quickly; it seems like the perfect pick-up-and-play game for Vita’s launch.
The game marks an interesting new line of business for Evolution Studios, who’s been able to put MotorStorm RC together quickly with a relatively small team.
“The game has been in development roughly nine months by a small dedicated team of 15 people within Evolution Studios,” art director Alex Perkins told me.
“All DLC is based on the performance of sales; if it does well it’s something we’ll have to think about.”
Vita Launch: February 22
Wifi-only model: £229.99
3G-enabled model: £279.99
There are 11 first-party titles confirmed for launch, alongside third-party games from Ubisoft, Namco Bandai, Sega, Capcom and more.
Super Stardust Delta
The other notable is Super Stardust Delta, the latest version of Housemarque’s frantic shooter. It follows the same formula as Super Stardust HD on PS3, but has been updated with features only available on Vita; it’s a Vita exclusive. If you haven’t played any of the games in the Super Stardust series, it has a similar style gameplay to the old Atari classic, Asteroids. Shaking the device deploys bombs that shatter everything on screen and the player is able to use the front and back touch panels to deploy missiles or smash asteroids. It’s a very polished experience that seems sure to continue the high standard of the series.
But you don’t have to take my word for it; get down to a Vita Room for yourself. The Glasgow affair is open every day until January 29, with the final event held in London, venue TBA, from February 17 to 23.
PlayStation Vita launches in the UK on February 22.