PS Vita Review: Borderlands 2

NOTE:  THIS REVIEW IS MY OPINION ONLY.  IT IS NOT A PAID REVIEW.  ALL PICTURES ARE TAKEN WITH MY PS VITA OR PLAYSTATION TV.

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BORDERLANDS 2 is a first person shooter with RPG elements developed by Gearbox Software, ported to the PS Vita by Iron Galaxy studios and published by 2K Games.  It is the second game in the Borderlands franchise.  The game is Cross-Save compatible with the PS3 Game of the Year edition.  This version is the only one of the series on the PS Vita, though playing the first game is not necessary to understand the story as the opening cinematic explains the story.

A short movie catches you up on what's happening on Pandora
A short movie catches you up on what’s happening on Pandora

Taking place five yeas after the first game, you play as one of six vault hunters (four in the main game plus two DLC characters)  Stories of another, larger ancient Vault has attracted Vault Hunters from all over to Pandora.  When the train ride in turned out to be a trap set by a man known as Handsome Jack, you find yourself on a glacier stuck with a (possibly insane) robot named CL4P TR4P (Clap Trap).  With his help and the help from a mysterious woman, called the Guardian Angel, you make your way through the Frozen Wasteland and get back Clap Trap’s boat.  From there the Guardian Angel tells you to make your way to the free city of Sanctuary and help the Crimson Raiders (and some of the Vault Hunters from the first game) and stop Handsome Jack by getting to the Vault first.

Meet the new Vault Hunters
Meet the new Vault Hunters
Your first meet Clap Trap after the train wreck
Your first meet Clap Trap after the train wreck

The character class are similar to the first game, with the Commando (Axion) standing in for the soldier, Gunzerker (Salvador), similar to the berserker, but can dual wield any weapon, the Siren (Maya) similar to Lilith in the first game but with telekinetic and telekinesis-stye powers, and the Assassin (Zero) instead of the Hunter class.  The game comes with two DLC vault hunters: Gaige, the Mechromancer, who can summon a robot called Death Trap to fight for her; and Kreig the Psycho, a playable version of the Psycho enemy in the game, who can regain health through melee kills.

Axton
Axton
Maya
Maya
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Salvador the Gunzerker
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Zero the Assassin

The Vita port also comes with some of the DLC mission packs from the console/PC version.  They include Captain Scarlett and her Pirate’s Booty, which you take missions for the infamous Captain Scarlett who is quite upfront about double-crossing you in the end; Mr Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage, were you enter a tournament to open a newly found vault; The Ultimate Vault Hunter Pack, which increases the level cap and add the Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode for a third play through; and the Collector’s Edition Pack with adds new skins and heads for the characters.  Sadly, the rest of the DLC like Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon’s Keep is not included or available.

Gaige the Mechromancer is one of the DLC characters
Gaige the Mechromancer is one of the DLC characters

The gameplay is pretty much like the PS3 version.  The dual thumb sticks of the Vita makes FPS bearable on a portable console.  With a few actions assigned to the touch pad (run and grenades) the controls are good (though I’m all fingers and launch grenades accidentally all the time.)  The best part is that the game is PS TV compatible with the most recent update.  The game even has control scheme similar to the PS3 version when you play it with the Dualshock  3 or 4 controller.  And the graphics looks great on the Vita and PS TV but there is one issue I have.

Enemies on Pandora are strange and varied
Enemies on Pandora are strange and varied

Borderlands 2 is a Hybrid FPS/RPG, so there is a lot of text in the game. My issue is that on the Vita, some of the text is really small and hard to read.  Now I admit it could be my sight going in my old age but it is very small.  Now it is an non-issue on the PlayStation TV as it holds up well on the big screen.

The mysterious Guardian Angel talks to you through visions.  She's a bit of a hottie, too.
The mysterious Guardian Angel talks to you through visions. She’s a bit of a hottie, too.

Overall, Borderlands 2 is a great game that is a welcome addition to the PS Vita.  Minor squabbling about text size aside it is good to see such an AA game ported to the Vita.  I wish more of the “Season 1 DLC ” such as the aforementioned Assault on Dragon’s Keep had made it to the port, but there is surely enough game to keep you occupied on your Vita.

Lilith from the first game, shows up
Lilith from the first game, shows up
Moxxie is an interesting citizen of Pandora.  She runs a place named after herself.  Tip well, and your get rewarded
Moxxi is an interesting citizen of Pandora. She runs a place named after herself. Tip well, and your get rewarded

Borderlands 2 is available in stores and digitally.  It also comes with the newer PS Vita in some packages.  Check stores for availability.

Moxxie sure gets around!
Moxxi sure gets around!
Man, her face is on everything!
Man, her face is on everything!
Sanctuary is full of friendly folks!
Sanctuary is full of friendly folks!

3.5/5

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PS Vita Review- Concepton 2: Children of the Seven Stars

Conception 2
Conception 2

NOTE:  THIS REVIEW IS MY OPINION ONLY.  ALL IMAGES TAKE FROM THE GAME WITH MY PS VITA.

Conception 2: Children of the Seven Stars is a Role-Playing video game developed by Spike Chunsoft and published in North America by Atlus.  It is the second game in the Conception series, the first being only released in Japan.  Both games are stand alone stories, so there is no need to know the first game to enjoy the second.  The game was released in North America in 2014 and is available for the 3DS and the PS Vita.  The PS Vita version is the one reviewed here.

Rock Hard with Choltz , and the future mother of his Star Children, Fuuko
Rock Hard with Choltz , and the future mother of his Star Children, Fuuko

Conception 2 is set in a pseudo-futuristic world in which technology and magic co-exist.  The land is plagued by pockets of dark energy called Dusk Circles, which spawn demons that terrorize the inhabitants.  You play as a young man, named Wake Archus, but for this review, shall be referred to the name I gave him, Rock Hard (you’ll know why soon).  Rock is discovered to have the mark of the Star God on his hand, which means he is destined to fight these demons.  He is sent to a training academy/high school for such children to learn to defend their world.  It is discovered that Rock is special. While not rated as one of the top fighters (S-Rank) he is able to generate Ether, the opposite element to Dusk.  This enables him to enter the Dusk circles along with a partner and defeat the evil within, closing the circle forever  He is also unique in that he has an one hundred percent success rate when he “classmates” with an S-Rank female to create Star Children, miniature adventurers you take into battle.  For this, you are given the title, “God’s Gift.”  Women want you.  Guys want to be you.  Even the teachers flirt with you.  You are a cosmically appointed stud!

Even the Head of the Science Division is drawn to Rock's ether!
Even the Head of the Science Division is drawn to Rock’s ether!

Classmating isn’t a dirty as you might think, but it’s close enough.  With an S-Ranked female and a magical  matryoshka doll (think Russian nesting doll), you go through a special ceremony at the Church.  The students touch, the girl gets all glowy, and ta-da!  Out of the matryoshka doll pops out your cosmic crotch fruit- I mean Star Child.  You choose the child’s class (from gunslinger to mage to thief to healer etc) and even name them.  You need three star children to create a team to take into battle and you can have three teams,  Of course, the girl you classmate with determines the Star Child’s stats (and hair colour.)  So you  are encouraged to classmate with four different girls (with a few others later on in the game)

Rock meets the four S-Ranked girls that he will Star-Stud for.  "Ladies."
Rock meets the four S-Ranked girls that he will Star-Stud for. “Ladies.”
Girls glow when they are pregnant, right?  Same idea, I guess...
Girls glow when they are pregnant, right? Same idea, I guess…

Your initial choices in possible Conception buddies run the gamit of the usual anime girl stereotypes.  You have Fuuko, a pink haired girl next door type who was one of the first people you met.  There is the shy Narika, who has trouble saying no when others thrust responsibilities on her.  Then there is Ellie, who works for the Church and splits her time between her Church and Academy duties.  Lastly, there is Chloe, a genius type who, despite being only a teen, is also one of your instructors.  You meet and get to classmate with three other girls, Feene, Torrie and Serina, as you progress in the game.

Ever friendly Fuuko
Ever friendly Fuuko
Mysterious Ellie
Mysterious Ellie
Chloe wants to teach you things.  Seriously, that is her job.
Chloe wants to teach you things. Seriously, that is her job.
Shy Narika
Shy Narika

The battle system is like your typical turn-based RPG, but you party attacks in groups.  Rock and his partner (one of the S-Ranked females) attack as one, while the Star Children attack in their group of threes.  You can move you characters around  the enemy to find a weak point to attack from (usually the flank) or attack head on for higher risk/higher reward)  You can use magic or skills which you lean as you go up in levels.  You can end up in battle with multiple enemies and you can split your groups off to fight more than one at a time.

Position your magical crotch fruit to gain an advantage in battle.
Position your magical crotch fruit to gain an advantage in battle.
Rock and Fuuko attack as one!
Rock and Fuuko attack as one!

Between dungeons ,you can hang out at the academy, buying new equipment, managing your party, training, or classmating (giggity) to create more Star children.  You can also talk to other students including the girls you classmate with.  This helps to improve your relationship with the girls, as the more they like you, the higher your offspring’s stats are.  You often will have to talk to someone to advance the story as you continue the game

The Academy.
The Academy.

Conception 2 works well as a game.  The unique was you use the Star Children as you party members add a management element to the game.  Some might die and you need to replace them.  As more classes become available, you might switch out your party.  Different girls may result in higher stats, too. and the presence of their “mother” might give some an advantage in battle.  You have to keep this in mind as the game gets harder.

Stats depend on the mother's level and relationship with Rock.
Stats depend on the mother’s level and relationship with Rock.

Overall, this is a good game.  the premise is different, but it is not as over the top as some games.  Sure your characters battle armour may look like fetish wear (especially Chloe’s! ) but it fits in with the overall tone.  The voices are well acted in the English version and the game does not take itself too seriously, with some sly jokes and the girls sometimes have fun at the Rock’s expense.  Conception 2: Children of the Seven Stars is a great game for the Vita and even works on the PlayStation TV!

Whether it is in a Dusk Circle or a BDSM club, Chloe's outfit is dungeon-ready.
Whether it is in a Dusk Circle or a BDSM club, Chloe’s outfit is dungeon-ready.

Conception 2: Children of the Seven Stars is available as a physical game or digital download.  Check online for availability and pricing.

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Happy Birthday, C. Fruit. Now get out there and fight for Daddy!

4/5

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Review: PlayStation TV

(Note:  This Review is my Opinion only.  This is not a paid post, I am not a professional reviewer.  This is just one man’s opinion.  All photos were taken with my PS Vita and all screenshots were taken on the PlayStation TV.)

PlayStation TV
PlayStation TV

It’s been, what, close to three years since my review of the PlayStation Vita?  I remembered how I had such high hopes for this system.  And to me, it delivered.  There are some good games out there, some original, some ports, that make the system worth it.  But with smart phones and tablets becoming so prevalent, and with Nintendo’s ever popular 3DS, the VIta has struggles, at least outside Japan.  Sony, however, has tried to  make it an accessory to it’s home consoles, especially the PS4.  Remote Play, promised for the PS3 but never made it, is a big part of the PS4’s plan.  This connectivity, built in from the start, is the basis for the PlayStation TV.

With the PlayStation TV, you can stream your PS4 games to any TV your PS TV is hooked up to using remote play,  You use a PS3 or PS4 controller paired with the PS TV to control the games.  You cam even stream PS3 games through your PS4 using the PlayStation Now service (imagine the bandwidth fees!).  Like the PS Vita, the PlayStation TV acts as an extension or your PS4.

But, at its core, it is a PS Vita.  The interface is the same as the Vita, with the bubble icons.  It uses the PS VIta memory cards for it’s expandable memory (it only has an internal memory as 1 GB.)  There is a slot for your PS Vita games so you cam play them on a bigger screen.  It even up-scales the game to improve the graphics (a feature the original PS Vita had, but it was never implemented.)  Now you cam play your potable games on your home TV.

The bubbles are back!  Background:  My dog, Azrael
The bubbles are back! Background: My dog, Azrael

“But,” you might ask (or maybe not but… just play along!), “most Vita games have touch controls.  Do all Vita games work on the PlayStation TV?”  The answer is no.  From what I tried, PlayStation All Stars and Metal Gear Solid 2/3 HD do not work.  Samurai Warriors 4, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 1 & 2, Dead or Alive 5+, Final Fantasy X-2 HD Remix, and Senran Kagura do.  Borderlands 2 did not work at first, but will after you update the title (even gives you the console control scheme!), so there is a chance more games will work.  For Touch controls, you click on L3 for front screen and R3 for rear pad controls, with a pointer appearing on screen.  With the PS4 controller, you can control the pointer with the touchpad.  It might be a little awkward, but it works.

You can adjust your controller settings here.
You can adjust your controller settings here.

Another thing that works are some of your PSP and PlayStation One games you have digitally on you Vita memory card.  These games, though up scaled on the PS Vita, might look a bit rough, especially some of the PS One titles, but it is nice to be able to play some Vita games on a larger screen.  Like on the PS Vita, you cam remap some of the controls for your games.  So you can map the D-Pad to the Right analogue stick and give some PSP games the control scheme it needs.

Final Fantasy X-2 HD Remix works fine on the PlayStation TV, though there was a bit of slow down at first
Final Fantasy X-2 HD Remix works fine on the PlayStation TV, though there was a bit of slow down at first
PS Store works like it does on the Vita.  You can use it to determine  some (if not all) of the games that are compatible.
PS Store works like it does on the Vita. You can use it to determine some (if not all) of the games that are compatible.

All and all, it seems the Sony is looking for ways to extend the Vita’s brand..  I do not have good internet at home so streaming of PS3 games from PS Now is not in the cards.  I hope to use it to extend my PS4 to the living room so I can game and watch for the mail.  The PlayStation Vita might give Vita games another chance (maybe convince some to buy it,) but it is a good way to extend you PS Vita gaming at home.

3.5 out of 5

PS Vita Review: Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection

NOTE:  THIS REVIEW IS MY OPINION ONLY.  ALL PICTURES ARE CAPTURED IN GAME WITH MY PS VITA.  ENJOY.

Producing Perfection
Producing Perfection

Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection is a idol-raising simulation game featuring the characters and settings from the Hyperdimension Neptunia series.  It was developed for the PS Vita by Idea Factory, Compile Heart and Tamsoft and published in North America by NIS America.  It is a spin off of the main Neptunia series but is not considered canon in the overall story.

You know when a game is too out there for the Neptunia franchise, it is going to be starnge.
You know when a game is too out there for the Neptunia franchise, it is going to be strange.

In the game, peace rains over Gameindustri and the four CPUs have entered into a competitive, yet stable peace.  But a new threat has emerged, taking shares away from the Goddesses and stealing their fans away.  This threat: MOB48, an all girl pop idol group.  The four CPUs meet to discuss hope to handle this threat and decide that the only course of action is to become Idols themselves (because naturally…)  They use their remaining power to summon a producer (you) to guide them to the top of the charts.

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The Four CPUs (Console Patron Units) team up to stop MOB48 from taking over

The goal of the main game, Producer Mode is to manage and train one of the girls to become the top idol in Gameindustri.  You do so by either doing Work in which you do ads, interviews or recordings to increase their popularity; Lessons, which improve your vocals, acting skills and coordination or Relax, in which you can lover stress, improve their relationship with the other CPUs or your own relationship with your idol (yes, apparently there is a possibility of romance).  You can also move to a different land to get more fans and, every so often, put on a concert.

Vert is the most mature of the four girls (as least physically), and managing her seems slightly less creepy.  Slightly.
Vert is the most mature of the four girls (as least physically), and managing her seems slightly less creepy. Slightly.
Most times, your idol's day is spending by choosing either Work, Training, Rest, Move or Concert
Most times, your idol’s day is spending by choosing either Work, Training, Rest, Move or Concert

The concert mode is the most involved mode of the game.  You chose the setting, the song, the special effects, which can boost audience enjoyment and the outfit your Idol wears (in both normal and HDD mode).  During the “concert” (which is one song), you control the camera angle and the special effects.  FInd the right angle and the fan’s enjoyument increases.  Set off a special effect to get bonuses to the score.  As well, if you activate Hard Drive Divinity (HDD) Mode, your stats increase.  You can only use HDD mode during solo concerts and only with your Idol’s signature song.

Close ups and stage effects can win over more fans.
Close ups and stage effects can win over more fans.
Shifting into HDD mode can boost your concert score.
Shifting into HDD mode can boost your concert score.

Other modes in the game include Unlimited Concert, in which you can use up to three CPUs and perform any some you’ve unlocked with any outfits you have for the characters and Viewer ij which you can.. well, look at the characters in any outfits you have unlocked for them.  You can even set up an alarm to go off at a certain time (as long as the game is running to wait up to once of their voices.

You can look at the girls in View Mode.  Dress them up and watch them pose.  Just...don't poke them.  You're above that.
You can look at the girls in View Mode. Dress them up and watch them pose. Just…don’t poke them. You’re above that.

Overall, the game is simple, yet addicting.  Much of the game is choosing an option and then watching the result.  But the characters are fully voice acted and it’s well done.   Like in the main series, the girls have their own quirks (Neptune is lazy, Noire is overly aggressive, Vert is competitive and Blanc is defensive.  So you have at least four storylines to play through.  More items for the concert mode unlock as you play and you want to see how well you can do with your Idol.  You could easily lose yourself in the game.

All of the girl's scenes are voiced by the same actresses from the main series.
All of the girl’s scenes are voiced by the same actresses from the main series.

Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection is definitely a different type of game than what we usually get over here.  I bought iut on a whim, having bought Re:Birth1 recently (and reviewed it too on this site).  I was expecting something more like Project Diva, a rhythm game but with the Neptunia characters.  Instead I got an Idol raising sim with a full story line and good English voice acting to boot.  As I said before, I like when we get the unusual stuff from Japan and this certainly qualifies as unusual.

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Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection is available as a physical copies or as a download from the PlayStation Store.

3/5

PS Vita Review: Deception 4: Blood Ties

(NOTE This review is my opinion only. All pictures are taken in game using the PS Vita’s screenshot function)

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Deception IV: Blood Ties is a third person strategy game developed and published by TECMO KOEI. It is the fourth game in the main Deception series (fifth including the spin-off, Trapt) and third in the Kagero series in Japan. This game is Cross-Save compatible between the PS3 and PS Vita versions. This review is for the PS Vita version of the game.

Laegrinna, the Devil's Daughter
Laegrinna, the Devil’s Daughter

In the game you play as Laegrinna, the daughter of the Devil, created from a shard of his soul. You are tasked with collecting fragments of the Holy Verse, a relic used to trap the Devil years ago. Luckily they are held by the descendants of the heroes who trapped him and they are coming to destroy you to prevent the Devil’s return.

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Caelea likes is when you put a little thought and effort into your traps.

Laegrinna is ready though as she has the power to place traps within her castle. Guided by three demons; cunning Caela, sadistic Veruza and child-like Lilia, you place traps and lure your enemy to their doom. Each demon has her preferred style of evil, and fulfilling their requests can result in higher reward if you survive the chapters..

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Veruza likes it when you bring the pain to your enemies.

The style of the Deception series hasn’t really changed since the second one. You place the traps while the world is paused them avoid the enemy as you maneuver them into the traps. You can activate the traps one at a time (and repeatedly after a cool down period.) You can even chain them together to increase damage and get more points (and approval from Caela and Veruza.) Traps range from swinging blades, spikes and arrows to rakes and jack-o-lanterns that land on their head so they wander around blindly. There are also stage hazards like a brazen bull that you can maneuver your victims into with the other traps and roast them alive.

Lilia likes dresses and tea parties and the total humiliation of her enemies. And ponies!

Points are gained by how much damage that the traps or series of traps do to your enemy. As mentioned earlier, you can gain extra points for dispatching your foes in the way specified by your demon sisters. Caela likes elaborate traps and they use of stage based traps. Veruza is sadistic and prefers brutal and damaging traps. Lilia likes to see the enemy humiliated, like stepping on rakes with a jack-o’-lantern on their head.

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Gaspard is totally humiliated by being roasted alive in a metal bull. He might never recover (you hope.)

But the enemies are no push overs. They include heavily armoured soldiers, fast archers and magicians. You have to time some traps just right to hit them. There are also boss characters who are tougher to kill.  If they get too close, they can do heavy damage to Laegrinna and end the game.

When a new enemy appears press triangle to use the Devil's eye to learn abo.ut their motives, strengths and weaknesses
When a new enemy appears press triangle to use the Devil’s eye to learn about their motives, strengths and weaknesses

The game is good, if a bit hard. As you proceed in the game the enemies prove challenging, especially the magicians and bosses.  As you proceed, you can get more traps to place and the number per room you can set increases. Learning the room traps and using them to your advantage can help you out in a dire situation.

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This electric chair is one of two in this room and nets you sadistic points. Bridget is getting the shock of her life.

Deception IV: Bloodlines is another good entry in the overall Deception series. Playing the villain is nothing new but the heroes you face are flawed and rotten in their own right. Launching an archer into an electric chair or crushing a knight with a boulder as she struggles out of a bear trap really never gets old. As the series nears its 20th anniversary in 2016, I hope we get another entry in this interesting series.

Deception 4: Blood Ties is available for PS3 and PS Vita in physical and digital formats.

4/5

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Laegrinna is an agreeable person… when it comes to killing heroes!
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Anna gets the point of the wall spikes.
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Julie is launched into the air by a springboard trap, displaying her underwear for all to see.
Traps are numbered for ease of use.  You can activate them with the touch screen on the Vita
Traps are numbered for ease of use. You can activate them with the touch screen on the Vita