PS Vita Review: Breach & Clear

Breach & Clear
Breach & Clear
(Note: This review is my opinion only. All pictures were taken in game by my PS Vita and/or PlayStation TV.)

Breach & Clear is a tactical strategy game developed by Mighty Rabbit Studios and published by Gun Media. It is a digital only title available on the PlayStation Network. It is availavle for PC, Mac, Android and iOS as well. This is a review of the PS Vita version. It also works on the PlayStation TV micro console.

Choose from 7 real world SOF
Choose from 7 real world Special Ops Teams
The game uses real world Special Operation Forces such as U,S, Navy Seals, British SAS, and Canada’s JTF2. You use real world tactics as your team goes from room to room, neutralizing threats. Missions take place around the world, from Afghanistan, Turkey, China, Germany and beyond. Game modes are Terrorist Hunt, Bomb Disposal (fight your way to the bomb and defuse it within the time limit.), and Escape Plan (fight your way to the extraction point) You chose your teams load out and weapons and unlock more equipment to buy with in-game currency as you level up.

Each Operator has 6 stats that can be raised
Each Operator has 6 stats that can be raised

Equipment can be unlocked and bought wit in-game currency
Equipment can be unlocked and bought with in-game currency
Yes, your soldiers level up as you do missions. Each character has stats like health, accuracy and speed, There are classes as well like Team Leader, Medic, and Breacher and they have a special class-only stat, You gain 5 points per level to distribute between 6 stats. Each Special Ops group in the game have a bonus to certain stats.

Choose your breach point or hit them from multiple points.
Choose your breach point or hit them from multiple points.

Levels can have multiple entry points
Levels can have multiple entry points

Move are carried out in phases.
Move are carried out in phases.
Game play is broken down into phases. You plan you move out, starting at an entry point. into the room. You must take in account possible enemy location (they don’t appear unless one of your soldiers has line of sight) and cover from enemy fire. Each character can move only so far per phase but you can place points where their arcs of fire shifts to cover a door or hallway. Once your routes are planed you select “BREACH” and watch as it is carried out. You then plan out you next phase the same way until the mission is complete or all your team are down.

Plan your moves out an ensure you cover all the angles
Plan your moves out an ensure you cover all the angles
The graphic are good, but are similar to the mobile versions, The camera is a 3/4 top down perspective, with the ability to zoom in on the action. You can rotate the camera as you plan your next move, The camera zooms in automatically during your initial breach and when you complete the mission/ kill the last enemy

The camera zooms in at the start of the mission.
The camera zooms in at the start of the mission.
The game uses the touch controls, much like the iOS/Android version. You can use the touch screen to select your operator, plan your route, zoom in, out and rotate the camera. It works well. You can also use the face buttons and analog sticks, if you prefer or playing it on the PlayStation TV.

The last shot gets a close up.
The last shot gets a close up.
Overall this is a great game. Unlike the iOS versions, this is the full game with no micro transactions for additional levels, weapons or equipment and they are included. At $14.99 (CDN), it is worth the price and you get solid game with a fair bit of replay value. As it is a digital download title, it is available for the PS Vita on the PlayStation Store.

4/5

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PS Vita Review: Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart

Hypedevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart Title Screen
Hypedevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart Title Screen

Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart is a tactical Role Playing Game developed for the PS Vita by Sting and Compile Heart and published by Idea Factory International. It is a spinoff of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series of games. the game also works on the PlayStation TV micro console.

(Note: This review is my opinion only. All pictures are captured in-game with the PS Vita’s screen shot feature.)

The CPUs are back.  This time, Noire takes charge!
The CPUs are back. This time, Noire takes charge!

The game takes place in an alternate version of the Neptunia series’ setting called Gamarket (as opposed to Gamindustri). Instead of Neptune, the game centers around Noire, the CPU for Lastation (PlayStation) The CPUs fight for control of Gamarket with their armies, and Noire is close to total victory. When a mysterious woman named Eno shows up with a way to achieve peace, however, Noire decides to trust her. It turns out to be a trap and Noire and the rest of the CPUs are stripped of their powers and that land is thrown into chaos. Noire manages to regain a bit of her power and, once she convinced the other CPUs to help her, sets out to recruit an army and free the land.

Noire in her HDD form, Lady Black Heart
Noire in her HDD form, Lady Black Heart

Her army is made up of former generals that followed the CPU in the Console War. Like the CPU, who are avatars of the different game consoles, the generals represent games. Again, all of them are cute anime girls. Some of them represent well known games. Lid, a sneaky lone wolf soldier with a bandana and electronic eye patch, represents the Metal Gear Solid series. Lei Fei, a ‘road pugilist”, is a nod to Chun Li and the Street Fighter series. Lady Wac represents Pac-Man. Other are from lesser known games. Each has their own unique abilities.

Lid (right) is a soldier that likes stealth and hiding in air ducts to spy on people.
Lid (right) is a soldier that likes stealth and hiding in air ducts to spy on people.

The game play is mostly your standard tactical RPG. At the beginning of the battle, you choose what characters to take with you. You assign a leader which gives you certain bonuses depending on which character you choose. You can have up to 5 members in your party. During your turn, you can move your characters and have them either attack, use a skill or use an item, and move.  If you have enough Lily points, you can transform the CPUs into their HDD forms.  One all your actions are used you finish your turn and the enemies them move. The battles end when you complete your objective (usually defeat all enemies of a boss character) or all of you characters die. Some levels however have special rules, such as defusing all bombs within 15 turns or using a switch to access the rest of the area.

Move your units on the battlefield
Move your units on the battlefield
Some areas  have tricks to them, like this train and swtich.
Some areas have tricks to them, like this train and switch.

Like games such as Final Fantasy Tactics, you have to equip your characters and upgrade their weapons Giving you characters better weapons and equipment will increase their attack and defence. Characters will also gain experience and level up in battle. At the end of the battle all characters not K.O.’d , even if they did not participate.

Lily Boost can give you an advantage.
Lily Boost can give you an advantage.

Strategy is also important as you progress through the game. There is a system called Lily Boost in which you can reduce the number of skill points used by having other characters right next to them. when you use a skill or special attack, the characters next to you give you a kiss for good luck. the more characters next to you, the less the action cost. There is a short scene with the girls pecking the attacker on the cheek and the character says a quick line (Neptune sometimes goes, “Wow! Feeling kinda funky!” OF course having al you characters so close leave then open for an area attack, \but you have to decide if it is worth the risk.  You can use the points gained by this to transform the CPUS into their HDD form.

It is so nice to see the girls get along.
It is so nice to see the girls get along.
The more girls the better.
The more girls the better.

The game is well done with the story told in a similar style as the main Neptunia games. The English voice acting cast is back, so the CPUs sound like you expect them to. The graphics are good, with the characters taking on a 3D chibi (big head, small body) look which suite the tone of the game. The cinematics have the characters looking like they do in the main games. There is a lot of fan service too, with scenes of Noire and others in bikinis or in the shower (with strategically placed soap bubbles). These can be viewed at the CPU hotel n the main Lastation hub.

The story is told like in the other Neptunia games.
The story is told like in the other Neptunia games.
Gotta have some fan service!
Gotta have some fan service!

Also in this hub is the mission HQ, where you choose your mission, a store to buy items and equipment, the Basilicomm, where Noire lives and items and disc development where you develop new items or discs to give your characters new bonuses. There are also “locals” you can talk to that may or may not have anything interesting to say.

Lid can be a bit...intrusive.  Noire will sort her out.
Lid can be a bit…intrusive. Noire will sort her out.

I had only started playing Neptunia games recently but this is one of my favorite. I liked Final Fantasy Tactics for the PS1/PSP and, while this one is more tongue-in-cheek, it is as enthralling. The cast of characters are interesting and it is nice to see the focus on one of the other CPU instead of Neptune. Noire, with the rough way she treats her allies is different from Neptune’s easy going yet lazy personality. It is interesting to see Noire try to be a better friend and leader to her teammates.

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Hyperdevotion Noire is a great game for fans of Tactical RPGs and the Neptunia series. It is available as a physical copy or digital download. It is rated T for Teen. Check stores and online for price and availability.

4.5/5

Obvious nod to MGS in Lid's special attack
Obvious nod to MGS in Lid’s special attack
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Compa (pictured) and IF are in the game, but as paid DLC.

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PS Vita Review: Criminal Girls: Invite Only

Criminal Girls: Invite Only
Criminal Girls: Invite Only

Criminal Girls: Invite Only is a Japanese role playing game developed for the PS Vita by Live 2D and published by NIS America.  It is a remake of the Criminal Girls game released for PSP in Japan.  This game is compatible with the PlayStation TV micro-console.

In this game you are a newly hired warden in the most unusual place Hell.  You are tasked with the rehabilitation of 7 girls who died stuck in the middle of good and evil.  You goal is to rehabilitate them as you move those the maze like prison, fighting monsters beyond redemption.  Once you reach the top level and have rehabilitated the girls, they will be restored to life.

Kisaragi is one of the girls you hope to rehabilitate.
Kisaragi is one of the girls you hope to rehabilitate.

The girls don’t trust you however.  They even refuse to fight, even if they are attacked.  So as part of their rehabilitation, you have to discipline them so that they become an effective member of your party.  To do this, you take them into the rest area/infirmary and beat the temptations out of them.  You can tell this isn’t going to be your typical JRPG.

Ran is pretty stubborn and distrusts male authority figures
Ran is pretty stubborn and distrusts male authority figures

You start the game with four of the girls under your control.  While you get to choose one girl to automatically fight for you, the other three have to be disciplined to unlock their ability to attack.  To do this you must go to the save point (infirmary, which are purple portals appearing in different levels) and choose Motivate, Using C M points you gain from battle,you play a mini-game in which you touch the touch screen or real touch pad to whip the temptations, appearing as little creature on-screen.  You do this over a picture of the girl in a suggestive pose with their clothing in disarray.  So pretty much, this is an S&M simulation.

The Motivation mini game is a bit creepy.
The Motivation mini game is a bit creepy.

The rest of the gameplay differs a but from you standard RPG.  Once you motivate the girls to fight with you, you do not actually control them.  During combat, each girl will offer a suggestion on what to do, either attack or perform a skill.  Once you choose that, that’s your turn.  No other girl attacks (unless that was what the girl you chose suggested) and then the enemy goes.  When they attack, all enemies get a turn. Some of them will even attack before you do.  But you do get some advantages.  Item use does not take up an attack, those you can use one item per turn.  You can also switch girls at the beginning of every round.  So, if one of the girl’s hit points are low or their attack is ineffective, you can swap them out.  It definitely adds something to the combat, but the only attacking once or twice a round can leave you hurting all too easily.

At the start of each turn, the girls offer suggestion on what to do.  Choose wisely
At the start of each turn, the girls offer suggestion on what to do. Choose wisely
Sometimes the girls team up for special attacks
Sometimes the girls team up for special attacks

The graphics are okay, with the levels having some variations.. You do not see the monsters on the map, unless it is an event monster or level boss.  During the fights, the monsters are represented by a static picture,flashing when they attack.  If they appear on the map, the monsters mostly look like a purple of pink blob. You can also find treasure chests while exploring the map, which have either items, skills or CM points.

This is Shin.  You have to do some motivational Maintenance to get her to fight for you.
This is Shin. You have to do some motivational Maintenance to get her to fight for you.

The characters themselves are done in the typical anime style.  On the map, they appear in the standard, super-deformed style (big heads, small bodies,), but appear normal during cut scenes and during, ahem, motivation activities.  The girls run the gamut of anime girl stereotypes.  While all have some part of the striped prisoner outfits in their costumes, their looks varies.  Some are waifish Lolita types while others are busty.  some have ill-fitting prisoner uniforms on while others are busting out of their clothes.  They only changed costumes for the Motivation mini game in which they wear gym clothes, those they seem to show more skin as you get higher in the mini game.

Tomoe is busting out of her prison...kimono?
Tomoe is busting out of her prison…kimono?

Now, I not that prudish when it comes to a bit of fan service in video games.  I didn’t mind the scantily clad females in games like Senran Kagura or the Hyperdimension Neptunia series.  As long as there is some sort of story or gameplay, it is all just ere candy.  But with Criminal Girls, there isn’t enough story for me.  The Motivation mini-game seems to be there just to shock and titalate.  You have to do it level up your character’s attacks,  Even though the Western version had been toned down by adding a pink haze and removing the girls’ yelps at you “spank their temptations”, it is still a bit disturbing,

The pink mist is NIS America attempt at self censorship.  I think it makes it worse.
The pink mist is NIS America attempt at self censorship. I think it makes it worse.

This is one of those game that is not for every one.  It is not for me.  The RPG gameplay is different, but a bit too frustrating with only being able to attack with one or two girls per round not choose what skills they used.  And with the Motivation mini-game being as it is, this is one game I won’t be playing in public or with an audience

Criminal Girls: Invite Only is available on a game card or as a digital download.  Check online for pricing.  It is rated M (17+) by the ESRB in North America.

2.5/ 5

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PS Vita Review: Freedom Wars

Freedom Wars
Freedom Wars

Freedom Wars is a third person action role-playing game developed by SCE Japan Studio, Shift and Dimps and published by Sony Computer Entertainment.  It is a first party-developed Intellectual Property (IP) developed exclusively for Sony’s PlayStation Vita system.  It also works on the PlayStation TV micro console.

Your Crime: Amnesia Your sentence : 1 000 000 Years
Your Crime: Amnesia
Your sentence : 1 000 000 Years

Set in the far future of 102014, the Earth has been devastated by years of war and neglect.  Humanity survives throughout the world in 50 different underground City/States called Panopticons, where they try to find a way to restore the surface.  Resources are scarce though, and the Panopticons find themselves at war over them, especially over people with skills and knowledge they need.  To fight these wars, they employ convicts turned soldiers called “Sinners.”

Sinners earn time off their sentences by performing missions "For the Greater Good."
Sinners earn time off their sentences by performing missions “For the Greater Good.”

A Sinner is a person that is deemed to be a drain on the Panopticon’s resources.  They have no skills or talent that makes them a useful member of society.  In fact, the act of being born is considered a crime and, unless you prove to be a valuable resource, you are sentenced to 1, 000, 000 years for your crime.  Each sinner is given the opportunity to reduce their sentence by performing missions for their government, battling other cities for resources on the surface and saving citizens from giant robots called Abductors.

You create your Sinner at the start of the game.  This is Helen.
You create your Sinner at the start of the game. This is Helen.

You start the game creating your Sinner, who was injured and battle and lost his/her memory (my Sinner was female so I will refer to the main character as female).  Your character, stuck between life and death is approached by a mysterious girl named Aries.  She acts as a guide, telling the Sinner that she will meet a girl soon, one who can changes the world forever.  You choose you characters sex looks and name, (in my case Helen) with a minimum choice in wardrobe at first.  You also choose the sex and look of your Accessory, a humanoid robot that acts as you prison guard, counsellor, supervisor and partner all in one.

You can also customize your "partner" called the Accessory.
You can also customize your “partner” called the Accessory.
Aries is some horned (?) chick that appears to you from time to time.  She has a role for you to play that will change everything.
Aries is some horned (?) chick that appears to you from time to time. She has a role for you to play that will change everything.

Combat in the game is simple.  You can choose melee weapons such as swords and polearms  for close up combat or use ranged weapons, like machine guns, rocket launchers and gatiling guns,  You also have something called a thorn, which is a vine like tendril on your left arm.  You can equip three types of thorns:  Binding, which lets you grapple onto the enemy or walls; healing, which creates a healing aura around you and your comrades; and Shield, which raises the defence of your team.

Nina is a Sinner you will meet.  She likes to party.
Nina is a Sinner you will meet. She likes to party.

Speaking of teams, you will rarely fight alone in this game.  At the very least you will have your Accessory with you.  You can arm them with weapons you buy/find/make and give them simple orders in battle.  You will also work with other Sinners, who you can also order to help with the battles.  It is important to lean how to give commands, especially during missions in which you have to rescue civilians before the enemy takes off with them.  You can also go online and have other players fight with you.

Abductors hold Citizen' captive within their body.  AS the game progresses they get tougher.
Abductors hold Citizen’ captive within their body. AS the game progresses they get tougher.
Missions are complete when all of the Civilians are rescued.
Missions are complete when all of the Civilians are rescued.

In between missions, your Sinner is in a cell.  You have no rights at first; you are not even allowed to lie down (Helen got ten extra years for that.)  You can earn that rights as well as others rights by spending Entitlement Points, which can also be used to by weapons and equipment.  As you earn more rights, you eventually can go outside your cell and talk to other inmates and progress to citizens, which can lead to more missions and opportunities.  As you progress to the higher level of Sinners, you will get better accommodations, freedom and time off of your sentence.

At least your cell has a large screen TV.  Too bad nothing is on.
At least your cell has a large screen TV. Too bad nothing is on.

This game is pretty fun. I like the character creation mode in that it lets you create the protagonist of the story that you are playing.  The gameplay is great, too.  I understand it is similar to the Monster Hunter franchise in execution (another series I have not played. much to my dismay) when it comes to co-op and taking down large monsters (in Freedom War’s case, the Abductors).  It takes some strategy to beat the mission and knowing how to used your allies effectively helps

Your Panopticon praises you as you progress but never fails to remind you that you are scum.
Your Panopticon praises you as you progress but never fails to remind you that you are scum.

Freedom Wars is available on physical card or through download via PSN.  Check stores and online for prices in your area.

4.5/5

You choice of wardrobe is limited at first, but you .can earn the right to mre choices
You choice of wardrobe is limited at first, but you .can earn the right to mre choices

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PS Vita Review: Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment

Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment
Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment

Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment is a Japanese Role Playing Game (JRPG) developed by Aquira and published by Bandai Namco.  It is based on the multi-media Sword Art Online franchise which includes light novels (short books for young adults), manga, two anime series and four video games, none of which are actually an online game.  Hollow Fragment is actually a remake of the third game, Infinity Movement, released for the PSP only in Japan, with additional dungeon, characters and a new area, the Hollow Area.

The Hollow Area is full of danger!
The Hollow Area is full of danger!

To understand the game you should know the Sword Art Online story.  In 2022 a Virtual Reality Game, SAO, set out invites for 6,000 players to beta test the game.  Your hero, Kirito, is one of them.  Once logged into the world of Aincrad, they discover they cannot log out.  The creator of the game announces that the only way they can return to the real world is to beat all 100 levels of the game and beat the boss.  If someone tries to pull them out from the outside, they will die.  If they die in the game, they die in real life.  Kirito gathers a group of friends to get to level 100, facing threats from in-game monsters and other players alike.

A typical town in SAO
A typical town in SAO

Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment starts off with Kirito waking up in an area he does not recognize.  He remembers exploring a cavern in level 76,  but somehow he ended up here.  Running into another player, Philia, they team up to survive the area. They both discover the have a strange mark on their hand.  They explore the realm, called the Hollow Area by a mysterious voice, and complete a mission to rid an area of ogres and arrive at a sphere which lets Kirito return to level 76 where his friends await in town, including his in-game wife and fellow player, Asuna.

Philla is another player lost in the Hollow Area.
Philia is another player lost in the Hollow Area.

The game then starts properly, explaining what happened.  In a departure from the books and anime, Kirito faced off with the end boss Heathcliff (a knight, not the orange cartoon cat) for a change to end the game right then and there.  During the fight, the game glitches.  Kirito uses it to his advantage and as he is about to finish Heathcliff, he disappears.  Dismayed that they still cannot log off, Kirito and the other players move to the next level, where they find another town and discover they cannot go back down.  With a new area to explore and with old friends and new at his side, Kirito sets out to get to level 100, and explore the mysterious hollow area.

Asuna is very protective of Kirito, even though he tends to be a chick magnet
Asuna is very protective of Kirito, even though he tends to be a chick magnet

The gameplay and graphics are good, and use the PS Vita’s system well.  Since the game is supposed to be a Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game, there are a lot of “Player Characters” to interact with throughout the game.  You can even pursue romance options with one of the many, many, MANY female characters that find Kirito irresistible, despite it being known that he is (in-game) married to Asuna.  You can romance her, too.

You can interact with your companions to increase your relationship.  Take it to the next level!
You can interact with your companions to increase your relationship. Take it to the next level!

When you go out into the wilds of Aincrad, the fighting is in real time, with you pressing one of the four face buttons for attack, defend dash or stun.  As your character is pretty high in level, so are the enemies.  You can either take jobs from the job board in town or proceed to Level 100, grinding your way through the levels.  You can earn gold to buy newer weapons and armour or find rare items in the filed.  Shops in town level up as you do so you can find the appropriate gear for you level.

You can encounter many smaller enemies...
You can encounter many smaller enemies…
...or large bosses.
…or large bosses.

I have mixed feeling from this game.  First of all, having no idea of what Sword art Online was, I was lost from the get go.  I thought it would be more like Ragnarok Odyssey and was disappointed there was limited customization for the main character (and he looks his default look during cinematics.)  The start of the game was pretty confusing for a newbie, starting with the area that you start in and all the girls, well other characters to, but mostly girls, swarm you when you return to town. Once the cinematic explaining what happened  previously and the events on level 75 does the game make sense.  They should have started with that, then moved into the Hollow area.

Some girls you meet are overly friendly.
Some girls you meet are overly friendly.

The overall gameplay is enough to keep you playing/Feeling like a MMORPG, you can manage your equipment in menus and combat is fast and furious.  Other characters can help which comes in handy on the bosses.  You can choose your companion in town, equip them for battle and have then accompany you through your quest.  You can even do social interaction with them to improve your relationship.  This leads us to the dating sim aspects.

Sinon (fading in on right )and Lizabeth  are loyal companions of Kirito and wouldn't mind being more.
Sinon (fading in on right )and Lizabeth are loyal companions of Kirito and wouldn’t mind being more.

Like many JRPGs there are dating sim aspects in the game.  For some reason, Kirito is really popular.  Maybe it is because he is the leader and everyone looks up to him.  Maybe it is because he took on Heathcliff and lived.  Maybe it is his devotion to Asuna that gets the girls hot. Maybe it is his tight black pants.  No matter what it is, all the girls want him, even though this is just a virtual form, and the real Kirito’s cheetos-encrusted body is wasting away in the real world.  All of his female friends seem to harbour a crush on Kirito despite his being with Asuna.  From Lizabeth the blacksmith to Sinon the strong, silent girl to Leafa, who is actually Kirito’s cousin, who he though was his sister.  That’s just a few.

Leafa (on left), who you thought was you sister but is actually your cousin, also wants a deeper relationship.  And if that wasn't creepy enough, so does Silica (right) .  How old is she?!?
Leafa (on left), who you thought was you sister but is actually your cousin, also wants a deeper relationship. And if that wasn’t creepy enough, so does Silica (right).   How old is she?!?

The translation is good, but the Japanese voice over remain.  Sometimes the translation seems off, and I am not sure if the double entendres were done on purpose or was just a bad translation.  All I know is the words coming and come were used a lot.

Yui (right) is an AI in the form of a pre-teen girl.  She is very protective of Asuna and Kirito's relationship and calls them Mama and Papa.
Yui (right) is an AI in the form of a pre-teen girl. She is very protective of Asuna and Kirito’s relationship and calls them Mama and Papa.

Overall, it is a decent, and deep game.  If the point of  the game was to draw more into Sword Art Universe, it worked on me.  I definitely want to watch a bit of the anime.  Despite the rough start the game gets interesting as you proceed.  I bought it on sale during the PS Vita anniversary sale so the price was right. If you are looking for a MMO like experience in a portable game like Ragnarok Odyssey, you might like this.  If you are a Sword Art Online fan, this is right up your alley.

You like menus?  It has got menus!
You like menus? It has got menus!

Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment is available digitally from the PS Store.  It is also PlayStation TV compatible.  Checks online for pricing

3/5

Philla is another player lost in the Hollow Area.
Philia is another player lost in the Hollow Area.

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PS Vita Review- Persona 4: Golden

Title Card
Persona 4: Golden

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

Persona 4: Golden is a Japanese Role-Playing Game (JRPG) developed and published by Atlus. It is the 4th game in the Persona Series (not including remakes) and falls under the Shin Megami Tensei banner of games that includes the Shin Megami Tensei and Devil Summoner series. Persona 4: Golden for PS Vita is a remake of the Persona 4 for the PS2. Person 4: Golden is a PlayStation TV compatible game.

The min character is talking up Chie.  "How YOU doin'?"
The min character is talking up Chie. “How YOU doin’?”

Set in a quiet town called Inaba in Japan, the game follows the main character, simply called Hero in the opening credits, but you can name him whatever you want (I called him James, so shall his name be for this review.) as he moved to down to live with his Uncle, police detective Dojima and his daughter, Nanako. Strange murders are happening in town, where the victims disappear them their bodies are found in impossible locations. As James begins to make friends with other students at his new school, hears about a mysterious Midnight Channel, a strange broadcast that some say are related to the murders. You also find that you have the ability to enter the TV, only if it was big enough.

Teddie is the friendliest resident of the TV/Shadow realm by far, but is no less weird,
Teddie is the friendliest resident of the TV/Shadow realm by far, but is no less weird,

Along with his new friend Yosuke, James enters the world beyond the TV at a department store called June’s. There they meet Teddie, a friendly creature that seems to be an empty cartoon bear costume, but he walks and talks on his own. With his help, they learn to sue their Personas, a magical aspect of themselves that gives them powers to defeat the Shadow monsters within the TV world. Though his dreams and later in the waking world, James learns how to use and combine Persona from Igor and Margaret, two residents of the mysterious Velvet Room. When a girl from their class, Yukiko, appears on the Midnight Channel, Yosuke and James help her friend, Chie, go into the TV world and rescue her. Both girls end up confronting their Shadow self and, upon its defeat, control their own Personas. Together, along with three others they meet later in the game, they try to find out who is putting people in the shadow realm and how to stop them.

This is Igor, your host in the Velvet Room.  He first appears to you in your dreams, which is a bit creepy.
This is Igor, your host in the Velvet Room. He first appears to you in your dreams, which is a bit creepy.
Margaret also appears to you first in your dreams.  which is much better...
Margaret also appears to you first in your dreams. which is much better…

The game play is a typical RPG, with the combat being turn-based. You control the main character, with the option to control your team mates action or let them act on their own (with usually works out fine.) Monsters appear in the dungeons as you explore them and you can try to avoid combat if you wish, but combat mean XP and you can level up both your characters and their Personas. When you are not the Shadow/TV realm, you go to school. You go to classes (sometimes answering questions to get bonuses for you stats,) hang with friends to increase your bond (for bonuses for your Personas), even join after school clubs or get a part-time job. Each evening, you go home where sometimes you get a new quest from the midnight channel or get messages in your dreams.

Enemies appear on the screen as you explore.  You can confront them, or avoid them.
Enemies appear on the screen as you explore. You can confront them, or avoid them.
Combat is turned based
Combat is turned based
If there is only one enemy and it is stunned, you can gang up on them.
If there is only one enemy and it is stunned, you can gang up on them.

The graphics are good and hold up pretty well on the PlayStation TV. There are fully animated cut scenes which are high quality and adds to the overall story. The character designs are good a done in a not too cartoony anime style (which the exception being Teddie. The monsters are strange and varied as well. There are fully acted voices in English which are done well. While the main character remains silent except in battle, (much like in Conception 2), you do make choices which can affect the other characters opinion of you. The other characters have their own unique voice and really add to the story.

Anime cut scenes tell the story.  Yukiko (or her shadow?) appears on the midnight channel looking for her Prince.
Anime cut scenes tell the story. Yukiko (or her shadow?) appears on the midnight channel looking for her Prince.
You meet Marie in the Velvet Room later on.  She seems a bit cold, but show here a good time and she'll warm up to you.  Maybe tell you  her secret?
You meet Marie in the Velvet Room later on. She seems a bit cold, but show here a good time and she’ll warm up to you. Maybe tell you her secret?

Overall, Person 4 is a great game. To be honest, I had a bit of trouble getting into it, as for the first hour of game play, I went to high school. Been there, done that.. Once the story got going, though, I wanted to play more to discover the mystery in the game. This is the first game in the Shin Megami Tensei, though from what I read, I was interested in playing the series. While there are other spin-off games from this iteration (Person 4 Arena and Person 4 Arena Ultimax are fighting games and Persona 4 Dancing All Night is a rhythm game), Persona 4 Golden is the ultimate version of the main game. I highly recommend it.

Risette/Rise is another character who will join your party.
Risette/Rise is another character who will join your party. She’s a pop idol

Persona 4 is available in physical and digital formats. Check retailers for availability.

4.5./5

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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