Back when Terraria launched on the PlayStation 3, we praised its diverse collection of content and its overall depth, but felt that the title's awkward user interface and time consuming gameplay held it back from greatness in our review. On Sony's handheld, however, the game makes use of the system's touch screen – but is the new control method enough to build upon the home console release?
Disappointingly, the answer to that question is a rather muted 'maybe'. The touch interface allows you to rearrange your inventory and switch equipment by jabbing and swiping the screen, which sounds like an improvement over fumbling through menus with a DualShock 3 until you actually try it. In reality, grabbing and dragging gear around the still overly-large inventory grid is – for the most part – just as cumbersome due to the fact that your finger will usually be obscuring a large portion of the small item icons to begin with.
As with the PS3 version, time still passes as you dig through your bits and pieces, and this tends to compound the problem further as you desperately try to pull the right item from one side of the screen to the other while angry mobs of monsters are busy surrounding you. The same is true when it comes to swapping between weapons and tools – something that was relatively simple with a controller, as it required just a few button presses to scroll through your favourite trinkets. Irritatingly, here you'll need to tap the desired icon at the top of the display, again blocking a section of the screen from view.
However, while the Vita edition's interface can prove to be just as clunky as traditional controls at times, we have no doubt that some players will find it more accessible – especially if you're the type to make constant use of your mobile phone's touch screen, for example. Whichever version that you decide to get, then, will largely depend on personal preference – but there is one distinct advantage that this handheld release has over its older brother: portability.
Handheld gaming's most obvious boon is something that Terraria can take great advantage of – you can load up the game for a quick five minute stint to forge some new gear, or you can spend half an hour exploring deep underground before setting your Vita back into sleep mode. Jumping in and out of what can be an incredibly vast experience keeps things feeling fresh, while on the PS3, the title can start to feel like a bit of a grind during longer sessions.
Outside of the points that we've discussed, Terraria is the same game that released earlier this year on Sony's home system, so if you're eager to read more about the release's gameplay and mechanics, be sure to check out our previous review by clicking here. There's still a giant amount of content to get through, from discovering dungeons full of treasure to building your ideal home and crafting the ultimate set of armour, and this newest edition also comes with the ability to hook up with PS3 players thanks to cross-play functionality – so there's no need to worry if your friends own the title exclusively on Sony's black box.
Terraria proves a snug fit on the Vita. The system's portability means that it's easier to enjoy your adventure at a steady pace, and the title's colourful world looks rather delightful on the handheld's crisp display. Touch controls have been implemented the best that they could given the game's already cumbersome user interface, but aside from that, Re-Logic's 2D dig-a-thon remains as solid as the earth beneath your feet.