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Talking Point: Killzone: Mercenary Concludes a Killer Week for PS Vita

Posted by Sammy Barker

Back in the zone

It’s not been the best first year for the PlayStation Vita. Shunned in its home territory and disregarded overseas, the powerful portable has struggled to secure a foothold in the brutal video game market. But there have been signs this week that the system is not dead and buried yet, and while there’s still a long road ahead for the machine, at least it’s starting to form the foundations of an impressive library.

The console started the year with very few titles in its immediate release schedule, but that’s gradually started to change over the past seven days. Dead or Alive 5 Plus and Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus both received firm launch dates from publisher Tecmo Koei, while Aksys revealed that it would release Muramasa Rebirth overseas. The platform holder saved the biggest until last, though, confirming Soul Sacrifice for late April and the stunning Killzone: Mercenary for mid-September. Both titles are a way away, but it finally gives fans something to look forward to.

However, what’s most important is that the growing line-up looks packed with quality. Dead or Alive 5 Plus, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus, and Muramasa Rebirth may all be ports, but they’re based on titles that have received an average rating of 80 on Metacritic. And they’re not the only games in the pipeline, either: Europe still hasn’t got its hands on the sensational Persona 4 Golden, and there are also the likes of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, Urban Trial Freestyle, and Velocity: Ultra on the horizon in the short term.

But it’s the recently re-revealed first-party titles that are understandably drawing the most eyes. Sony appears to have learned from its mishandling of Demon’s Souls, and it’s making a big deal out of Soul Sacrifice overseas as a result. Not only is the demon slayer making its way to western shores in a timely manner, but the platform holder is also putting some serious weight behind the game. There are various pre-order bonuses on offer to encourage you to register your interest early, and the title has had a decent presence on official channels such as the PlayStation Blog over the past few months. For a game that could have been shrugged aside as a niche Japanese release, the publisher is betting big on the action RPG.

And bet big it should, because the Vita needs unique games like the Keiji Inafune creation. Monster Hunter has never really taken off overseas, but there’s nothing to say that the first-party alternative can’t steal its thunder. Boasting a bold, attractive art style and a gruesome gameplay hook – which sees you forgoing body parts in exchange for attacks – it may just be the shot in the arm that the primarily co-op focused genre needs.

But while Soul Sacrifice is more of a gamble, Killzone: Mercenary looks set to become the poster child for the platform in 2013. Just like Uncharted: Golden Abyss at launch, the Guerrilla Games developed first-person shooter appears equipped to defy the expectations of the handheld machine all over again, boasting a visual style almost on par with its PlayStation 3 counterparts. The developer claims that the title is built upon the same engine as the home console release Killzone 3, and judging by this morning’s debut trailer, it’s easy to believe.

But it’s not just the appearance of the game that’s so enticing, as the developer seems to understand the format too. Indeed, the upcoming exclusive may be a fully featured first-person shooter, but it’s grounded in portable sensibilities. Missions are relatively brief and segmented, with lashings of replay value embedded into their structure. Furthermore, the whole game is designed around a constant reward loop which allows you to improve your abilities irrespective of mode. That makes it the perfect option regardless of whether you’re secluded in the countryside without a Wi-Fi connection, or blasting your buddies online in bed on a lazy Sunday morning. It’s all rather exciting.

And that sentiment sums up the week in general. None of these announcements are going to suddenly turn the Vita around; it still faces an uphill struggle to appeal in all territories around the globe. But for early adopters – or those on the verge of splashing out on the system – it shows that there’s at least an immediate future for the machine. And if you hadn’t already guessed, we’re quite looking forward to watching it unfold.

What do you make of the PlayStation Vita’s recent announcements? Which handheld titles are you most looking forward to in 2013? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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User Comments (19)

IAmNotWill

#1

IAmNotWill said:

I'm going to play devil's advocate here and say that the lineup is nothing special and it is too soon for the average person to run out and get one yet.

Basically, I think that there isn't enough original games. Sure Persona 4, Ninja Gaiden, and DOA are all good looking titles, but they were released quite awhile ago on other platforms. Most people who wanted those games already have them. I look at the Wikipedia Vita list and most of what I see are ports, remakes, and multi-platform games, which will not keep a system alive.

The system needs it's own games to take full advantage of it's capabilities and features. At this point it just looks like the PS3's little brother.

ShogunRokAdmin

#2

ShogunRok said:

@IAmNotWill Well we did just have Killzone Mercenary and Tearaway blowouts - neither of which are ports or third party games. Both are completely original to Vita.

That said, they have a lot to prove, and September is a long way away. I can't say I'm particularly excited about any upcoming Vita release, but at least Sony are starting to churn out news.

charlesnarles

#5

charlesnarles said:

To be fair, they're still trying out the whole cross-buy thing, I think they thought more games could be close enough on both systems to have it work, but maybe PS4, eh? I love the whole idea of a 'baby' ps3 in my pocket, almost more than it being the successor to psp, that's really why I bought one, even though it only works for ICO/SotC lol........ But seriously, it's only been out for a year worldwide, it's got amazing resolution and playability compared to 3DS, Microsoft's not even trying to have a handheld at all, and they're selling them at an even greater loss now. You can't be mad at them for the price tag when they're making something now that's still gonna be technologically relevant in 10 years, especially in regards to video games. We're sposta have human-comparable computers by 2050, for crying out loud. I really like what they've done with it. Viva la Vita

get2sammybAdmin

#6

get2sammyb said:

I agree that original games are key, which is why it's so exciting to see Soul Sacrifice, Killzone: Mercenary, and Tearaway all get big blowouts this week. Quantity is the biggest issue right now — but I'm at least stoked to see that there are a handful of stellar releases on the horizon, even if they are a long way away.

JavierYHL

#7

JavierYHL said:

i dun mind ports if those are quality games like persona 4 golden...now i only need god eater 2 english please

hydeks

#8

hydeks said:

I disagree with the non-believers, I think games like tearaway, killzone and soul sacrifice will get the sales up alot more than there at right now. Will it be outselling 3ds? noooo, but it's kinda hard to do that when Nintendo is the masters of portable gaming, but there can still be a great playstation and android etc. presence, right?

belmont

#10

belmont said:

The only PAL 3DS release I look forward is Castlevania. I have my eyes in some more games but are (and will probably stay) Japan only.

Vita appeals more to me since I bought it. It is way better that 3DS in every way. In the recent weeks I played Uncharted (from PSPlus) and Metal Gear HD and loved them. I have some more games untouched that I will move to like Gravity Rush (PSPlus) and I want to buy some more if I have money. These days I play Corpse Party but I prefer PSP for PSP games.

As for the new titles I have never played a Killzone game. I look forward to DOA since I enjoyed the previous title on the 3DS. I also want Soul Sacrifice and YS4 that were recently announced. There are some more Vita (and PSP) titles that I want like God Eater 2, Atelier Totori +, Phantasy Star and others but the release of some seems unlikely. However some may appear on the e-shop since it costs less.

Edit: As a side note I would like 3 things from future updates.
1. Add Greek fonts and letters. I can't replay in the e-mails or search web/youtube in my language. Vita has many other languages, why not Greek as well
2. Local remote play with my PS3
3. Remove the stupid 3G restrictions. I have a 3G connection that I can't use to download games from the store or upload saves in the Plus Storage! Also, even though 3G coverage in where I am is very good, I can play online via 3G only on Blazblue!

Squiggle55

#11

Squiggle55 said:

Even though I have a big 3DS backlog I still pick up my Vita every night instead of the 3DS. Can't really explain why.

Galvatron

#12

Galvatron said:

To play Devil's Advocate is admirable, but let's look at what many, myself included, consider top drawer titles for the system already out; Uncharted: Golden Abyss, MGS: HD, Wipeout 2048, Virtua Tennis, NFS: Most Wanted, AC: Liberation, LBP, Sine Mora, Rayman Legends, FIFA Soccer. Then add PS1 classics, then titles like Velocity & Virtue's Last Reward.

These titles have meant that even as a day one PS3 owner, for the last 12 months I've played much more on the Vita than it's bigger brother. Persona 4: Golden, Velocity Ultra, Killzone: Mercenary, Soul Sacrifice & Tearaway look fantastic and I'll be picking them all up, in addition to Bioshock Infinate, Far Cry 3 & GTA5 on the PS3.

The only issue I see is similar to Sammy; quantity of Vita titles over the next 12 months, which the Destination Playstation event will no doubt unearth more of. I'm a little bemused by the argument re it MUST have totally original games too - I want a mixture of both, and preferring Motorstorm on PS3, I was happy to buy Most Wanted on the portable - and still play it now. Ditto for MGS: HD & Wipeout 2048, a psychedelic experience even better on headphones.

I believe the future of the system will be rosier once Sony do 2 things: announce the rest of TBC titles for 2013 and a price drop.

But for this gamer, I nod to a sentiment someone made earlier; Viva la Vita. It rocks :-)

Gemuarto

#13

Gemuarto said:

Sammy, you forgot about Valhala Knights 3 and Ys: Memories of Celceta annonced by XSEED today, Yay =)

hamispink

#14

hamispink said:

It's great that there was more light shed on these titles, but Sony really does need to announce more. There are apparently less than 10 game coming to the vita this year that have any significance to the mass market (I'm sure there will be some fun and small downloadable games along the way that i'll love). I'm still loving my vita with too much to play on it, but unless Sony will drop the price in the next couple months and get more people buying the vita, the third party support will never come.

BornOfEvil

#15

BornOfEvil said:

Okay, so Saoul Sacrifice, Tearaway and Killzone: Mercenary have launch dates. I'm still waiting on God Eater 2, Sony.

Gamer83

#17

Gamer83 said:

Well, we're getting portable versions of Sly Cooper Thieves in Time, MLB The Show, Muramasa, NGS 2 and DoA 5 along with new titles like Killzone: Mercenary and Tearaway, I'm very happy with the Vita's lineup for this year.

Facelord

#19

Facelord said:

@hydeks Ha, yeah, no. Not even close. I was a Nintendo fan from the SNES days to the 3DS' launch, that awful, mediocre pile of crap horrified me with its amazingly low quality. I spent eight months trying to get over how disappointing it was, but the 3D effect gave me eyestrain, migraines, blurred vision and a persistent eye twitch that lasted around six months... with only around ten hours spent in 3D mode over a period of eight months("getting used to the 3D" = MASSIVE misconception), the screens suck(240p, LCD, resistive lower touchscreen and top isn't touch-capable), the hardware sucks(I'd say about a tenth as powerful as the Vita and 20% more powerful than the PSP) and the control inputs are outdated(resistive lower screen, one circle pad). I got a PSP a little after I got that 3DS and regretted the past seven years I had spent with my DS. I don't think you can imagine how that feels.

Anyways, when I told Nintendo about the effects the 3D had on my eyes they gave me a full refund($250, I can't believe they charged that amount for the 3DS). I spent that money on a Vita and haven't regretted it since, in fact I've used my Vita every single day since launch. No, Nintendo are not the kings of handheld gaming. They haven't been the kings of handheld gaming since they got their first decent competitor back in 2005. Nintendo's just an old-money company, the level of quality they have on display is laughably low and their popularity is an anomaly in the industry. I can trace the public death of the Nintendo that I grew up with and loved since the 16-bit era back to one event, one that I mostly overlooked as a kid but now really understand: when Reggie Fils-Aime took to the stage at E3 2004 and proudly proclaimed that hardware doesn't matter, followed by cheers from the braindead crowd. Nintendo stopped caring about pushing the boundaries of tech long ago, they started putting the end-user experience last when they launched the Wii and they continue that practice now.

Nintendo are not the kings of anything. Not of portable gaming, not of first-party support, certainly not of third-party support or home console gaming; in fact, they're the biggest franchise-milkers in the history of the industry, no one comes even remotely close these days(not EA, Activision, Ubisoft or anyone else) and their hardware is by far the worst. Nintendo is just a sad shell of their former selves, a gross bastardization. I hope that they replace their 3DS and Wii U with systems that aren't disgustingly mediocre soon, it depresses me to no end that my only good option in gaming now is Playstation. Don't get me wrong, I've grown to LOVE Playstation, but I like having more than one good option just in case Sony becomes the next Nintendo or something.

Luckily, I know how to fix Nintendo. Sadly, it involves fixing their complacent fanbase. Nintendo fans are Yes Men, never acknowledging Nintendo's flaws or telling them to improve. If their fanbase were to shun the 3DS and Wii U and tell Nintendo they expect better out of them, Nintendo would be forced to comply. They'd be FORCED into coming out of their mediocre shells, forced to return to being a serious competitor in the game industry. Sadly I don't see Nintendo's fans ever improving, the same people who cheered when Fils-Aime denounced hardware quality at E3 2004 haven't gone away. Oh well. A gamer can dream, can't he?

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