One of the console's launch titles, Wipeout 2048 was also the game that showed off the Vita's visual capabilities the best, In it, players speed around tracks in cyber-noir cities that contain both horizontal and vertical straight-aways. The action is fast-paced, the controls taught and responsive and the frame rate never slows at all. One of the best-looking titles ever made - for any console.
Originally released on the XBLA, Limbo is a spine-chilling little platformer with macabre sense of humour. In it, players control a stoic young chap as he heads through a dimension of creeping horror in search of his sister. While the player's adventures through Limbo will feature whirling blades, traps that decapitate their charge and giant arachnid horrors, it's really the game's choking atmosphere that proves the game's most hypnotic draw. Play this one with headphones on... and in the dark, if you dare.
Dead Or Alive 5 Plus
The Dead Or Alive series has always had a slightly sleazy atmosphere about it, but it has to be said that at its core, it's a very decent fighter. Dead Or Alive 5 Plus ported this DOA 5 to the PS Vita with relatively few problems, losing only the challenge tracking and online lobbies in the process. The training mode has been siginificantly juiced up and as one would expect, the game runs at 60 fps with no lag.
One of the PS Vita's more mind-bending titles, Gravity Rush centres on the adventures of a woman named Kat, who is bestowed powers by a cat (yes, we know!) to fight off an invading wave of monsters. The kicker here is the player's ability to switch Kat's control of gravity, allowing her to twist her perspective at will. As the game progresses, Kat gains more powers, such as the ability to lift heavy items up in the air and toss them about.
Guacamelee is the tale of a man named Juan who tried to rescue his beloved from an evil skeleton, was killed, and then came back from the dead a super-powered luchadore wrestler. As you do. Mixing satisying and deep combat with challenging platforming, Guacamalee also encourages exploration and allows players to flip between the dimensions of the living and the dead to tackle enemies that reside on different planes. Easily one this year's hidden gems.
One of the fastest, nastiest and addictive games on the market, Hotline Miami is essentially a puzzler disguised as a psychopathic rampage. In it, players take on the role of a faceless killer who massacres entire buildings at the behest of an anonymous caller. The strobing visuals and sublime soundtrack lend the game a slightly dream-like quality, but make no mistake, Hotline Miami is one of the most challenging games you'll play on Vita all year. It's also one of the best.
Little Big Planet PS Vita
Little Big Planet, makes a convincing case to be considered the PS Vita's flagship title. Sony's delighful little platformer/game constructor just fits so well on to the handheld; its myriad inputs and in-your-hand functionality complete it. The touchscreen panels allow players immediate conrtol in building levels and the gameplay mechanics are absolutely rock solid. As our Deputy Editor Matt Hill said, the game is "married to the whole "in your hand" feel of the PlayStation Vita, it's as if you're massaging these worlds out of Play-Doh or Silly Putty. It just fits. Arguments for dedicated gaming portables don't come any stronger."
A beautiful side-scrolling hack 'n slash in the mould of classic arcade games such as Golden Axe, Dragon Crown is a deceptively deep affair. While its focus is resolutely on action, the game offers a compelling RPG mechanic and a ton of loot drops to keep the core playing and playing, but its simple gameplay means that it also boasts broad appeal. One of the best games on the PS Vita (or the PS3) hands down.
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
The Metal Gear Solid HD Collection bundles both MGS2 and MGS3 together on the Vita, strangely missing out Peacewalker, which made its first appearance on the PSP. That ommission aside, it's interesting to see how Kojima's two classic port over to the PS Vita so well. The interface translates very well and the game's touchscreen makes accessing the games' normally fiddly inventories a synch. Best of all, if you're an MSG fanatic and you own this collection on PS3 already, you can tranfer saved games between the platforms. You can be all Solid Snake all the time.
Sony's oversized racer was bound to make an appearance on its handheld, but no one expected it to be scaled down to the size of Tonka Toys. And more importantly, no one expected this downsizing to improve it so much. In MotorStorm RC players race remote controlled cars through a series of events and lengthy challenge list. The key here is the live leaderboards where players can measure their lap times against the game's global community and their friends. Losing to a friend by an eyelash is enough to keep most serious racers playing MotorStorm RC long into the night.
A remarkable port of Murasma: The Demon Blade, Vanillware's lush action adveture game on the Wii, Murasma: Rebirth reconfigures the motion-sensor controls for the Vita's interface with aplomb. It's essentially the same game - two heroes guide the player through the plot from different perspectives - offering tactical hack 'n slash gameplay against some of the most devious enemies a game has ever offered. Worth it simply for its wonderful visual style alone.
Need For Speed: Most Wanted
If you've ever played Need For Speed: Most Wanted on a console, you know pretty much what to expect from the PS Vita version and that's probably the highest compliment we could pay this game. Usually, handheld spin-offs are handled by studios acting as guns-for-hire, and they end up as lesser versions of the games that spawned them. That's not the case here; players are let loose in a huge open city with tons of cars to discover and tons of bespoke activities to get stuck into. The maxim for the original also rings true here: if you can find it, you can drive it.
Persona 4 Golden
Persona 4 Golden is a PS Vita port of Persona 4, which first appeared on the PS2. The game tells the tale of a high-school kid who moves to a new town just as a serial killer embarks on a murdering spree. This killer, however, is dipatching their victims by sending them to a parallel dimension called the Midnight Channel via TV screens. If that doesn't sound weird enough, bear in mind that every character in the game has a specific power called their 'Persona', which they can use to battle in the Midnight Channel. Persona 4 Golden is like a Nancy Drew mystery directed by David Lynch presented as a stylish JRPG. It's also the highest rated game on the Vita to date. Just sayin'....
One of the prettiest, smartest and downright engrossing platformers ever created, Rayman Origins is a must-have on the PS Vita. The handheld is more than capable of showing the game's eccentric and gorgeous visual style and the core gameplay is as rock-solid as ever. There' s no multiplayer, unfortunately, but we'd still recommend picking up a copy - especially if you've never played another version of it.
There's no Monster Hunter on the PS Vita, but this offering by SCE Japan Studio may feed that particular jones for Sony fanboys. In Soul Sacrifice, players enter mini open-world maps and then slash and burn their way through a series of enemies, from which they earn experience points they can use in the game's RPG system. This allows them to open up new moves and spells, and since players can only take a closed number of these into the missions, they lend Soul Sacrifice a tactical edge. Players can even collect the souls of the dead as allies or sacrifice them for more magic. Delightfully diabolical.
Sound Shapes an absolute gem of a game. Here is a beautifully designed platformer that actually encourages players to create their own music as they progress through the levels. The soundtrack - as one would expect - is superb, featuring the likes of Deadmau5 and Beck, and the beat-based gameplay encourages exploration and experimentation. Best of all, once players beat the game, they unlock Beat Mode, which allows them to create their own levels. It's music creation through game design and it's absolutely seductive.
Super Stardust Delta
Easily one of the most visually stunning games on Sony's handheld, Super Stardust Delta is the PS Vita port of one of the best twin-stick shooters ever made. The developer have added some new controls to this version, which utilise the Vita's back and front touch interfaces as well as its six-axis controls. To be fair, they work pretty, but crucially, they're never shoved down the player's throat. Old-school gamers can pick 'Pure' mode, which allows players to simply use the console's two thumbsticks, as God intended.
Thomas Was Alone
Thomas Was Alone is a minmalist puzzle platformer in which players navigate their way through block-filled environments to an exit. But However, as the game progresses, its delicate soundtrack fills the game's world with a sense of magical appeal, while the note-perfect narration from Danny Wallace infuses little blocks the player controls with genuine character. Once the level design starts tossing in curveballs, it's fairly hard to walk away from. Thomas Was Alone may sound teeth-rottingly twee, but give it a chance - you'll never look at little coloured blocks the same way ever again.
Uncharted: The Golden Abyss
Another one of the PS Vita's launch titles, Uncharted: The Golden Abyss sees charming rogue, Nathan Drake, fending off mercenaries while in search of some Spanish gold in Panama. While the game stuck to the Uncharted series' reliable template of platforming, puzzle solving and cover based shooting - all of it shot through with Drake's trademark humour - it was surprising to see how the Vita's smaller screen didn't diminish the game's sense of grandeur at all. Some of the touch-panel controls feel a little crowbarred into the proceedings, but overall this is an essential title for any PS Vita owner.
In this arcade shooter, player rescue ships encased in glass while navigating their way around a tight maze and evading the odd turret gun. While that may sound simple in theory, Velocity: Ultra boasts some of the best and most challenging level design of any game of this type. Shooting for that perfect track record requires some nimble piloting, deft timing and the vision navigate tight spaces at high speed without crashing. If that sounds like fun, you don't know the half of it - to those who take to it, Velocity: Ultra is utterly addictive.