Game Review Roundup: PROTOTYPE 2, AVENGERS ALLIANCE, More

Howdy Folks! So, you may have heard of a couple of somewhat large games from the last few months, both from BioWare, dealing with tiny little scifi properties. After Star Wars The Old Republic and Mass Effect 3 consumed our lives over here at Newsarama Games central for the first few months of the year, we looked back and realized we had a lot of catching up to do. So here comes the largest game review column we've ever produced – ten all told, with more coming soon (as in, probably this week), all here at once. Many of these reviews will be short and sweet, while a few standouts get the full-size feature treatment.

So if you're anything like our RPG obsessed selves, sit back, and take a gander at what you may have missed while in your BioWare coma. Seth is kicking things off with the most recent release of the bunch, Prototype 2, which is unfortunately not very prototypical. Read on!

 

Prototype 2

Reviewed on: Xbox 360

Review By Seth Robison

Rama Rating: 6 out of 10

Sequels are a tricky business throughout all types of fiction, but never as much as they are in gaming. Not only is there the challenge of either resetting or continuing a concluded narrative, but you have to deal with the fact that at the end of almost any game the player character is at the peak of their power. They are at a level, either figuratively or literally, that would render any past or future minor challenge impotent in their wake. The follow up to 2009’s viral outbreak/body-horror-as-superpower open world action title Prototype, Prototype 2 , out now for PS3 and Xbox 360, takes an unusual approach to solve the latter part of this dilemma, but by doing so the game falls victim to the sickness it created.

As seen in the events of the prequel comics the protagonist of the original game, Alex Mercer, has moved into the shadows, in his place is Sgt. James Heller returns from a tour of duty in Iraq to find his family dead in a second viral outbreak in New York City. He is told Mercer is to blame and he goes into the infected city looking for revenge, but instead he finds himself bestowed with the same powers as his enemy and must deal with a conflict and a conspiracy involving Mercer, a mercenary army and a heartless biomedical corporation.

The heart of the major issues with Prototype 2 is in the aforementioned change of protagonists. While Heller is a more compelling, aggressive and hilariously foul-mouthed character than the angst-ridden Mercer, the distinction ends right there on the surface. Gameplay-wise they are nearly identical in the way they develop and use their powers. Anyone who played the first game will not find any radically different changes in the way Prototype 2 plays. The game’s setting also has that “same but just a little different” feel as the same Manhattan setting of the first game has been broken into three island ‘zones,’ supposedly by effects of the viral outbreak, representing different levels of mercenary/viral occupation which are unlocked as you progress. Each island is only accessible from certain points on the map, but once you clear it of missions and the easy-to-find collectables, you’ll never go back to one. These not-quite-so differences extend beyond into the game’s structure as well. Atop the typical mission giver structure of open world titles, the (proto)typical mission pattern of stalking a particular foe, assuming their identity to infiltrate a base, and then wrecking the place returns as well.

Not that wrecking stuff isn’t fun. The powers that Heller develops above and beyond the default Prototype set of strength, speed, vertical surface running and gliding quickly make him more than a match for anything that’s thrown at him even on the hardest initially available difficulty. A slick dodge maneuver and some intensely gory finishing moves make combat fast and fun despite how one-sided it quickly becomes. You will get plenty of opportunity to use them as a multitude of side missions, even more for those who buy a new copy of the game, offer percentage boosts to individual powers or attributes. This extends the experience, but a determined gamer can finish the storyline missions in less than twenty hours.

The visuals are the one department where Prototype 2 completely outdoes its predecessor. While this version of the city is not particularly impressive architecturally, it is rendered beautifully. Impressive gore effects, especially when strings of flesh linger in the wake of some of the more ‘gooey’ attacks, great draw distance and even rain splashing into puddles enhance the experience.

Unlike how it has been done in the past with franchises like Legacy of Kain/Soul Reaver, Prototype 2’s new protagonist conceit ultimately fails to deliver a new experience and overall feels more like a remake of the previous than a true sequel and is best for those who haven’t played the original. Prototype 2 is for the gamer looking to cause some mayhem, but is not the cure for sequel-itis.

 

Marvel: Avengers Alliance

Reviewed on: Facebook

Reviewed By: Lucas Siegel

'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Hello, I'd like to introduce you to Mr. Timesink. He also goes by the name of Marvel: Avengers Alliance, and he is the most addictive thing to hit the internet since someone first searched "naked" on Yahoo!.

Gone are the days when a free online game, specifically one on facebook, could only involve searching online for scrabble cheat machines or plowing a square for the ten thousandth time. While some other facebook games have gotten close to finding the right formula (Dragon Age: Legends was great, until you had unlocked the limited items for Dragon Age 2 and had no real reason to play it anymore), none has hit all the notes quite like Marvel: Avengers Alliance.

With no console game on the stands for the release of Marvel's The Avengers in theaters, this is the video game tie-in around at the moment. It expands considerably on the film, though, having access to the X-Men and Fantastic Four casts of characters as well as Earth's Mightiest Heroes. The core gameplay, battling using one created character and two Marvel heroes against waves of enemies from Hydra goons to supervillains like Green Goblin and Whiplash. it plays out like a 16-bit JRPG, with turn-based attacks chosen from one of several unlockable superpowers, or item use in lieu of one of your own abilities. Then comes the social element. With facebook friends who also play the game, you can unlock special phone-a-friend style Distress Calls, which bring in your friends, or one of their Marvel heroes, for an oft-devastating extra attack to help even the odds. Renewable once a day, if you have a lot of friends as allies in the game, you can really unleash hell upon the baddies of the Marvel Universe. The game also includes a PVP aspect, where you play against the computer controlling a line-up of another player's team. It makes for a fun place to try new combinations, and more bragging rights to be had.

Being free-to-play, there are some limitations. You start with 60 energy, with each battle using 10 of that. It auto-regenerates at a rate of one battle per hour, but it's easy to zap through in about 10-15 minutes. Luckily, you can receive more energy from friends, or purchase it using the Gold Bars you either win under certain battle conditions, or purchase using real money. That real money, through the gold bars, can also go toward recruiting more characters, skipping research and level-up training times, or buying more silver (see: fake money) in the game. Otherwise, you're in for the tedious task of repeatedly sending your heroes on "remote missions" where they'll be unusable (except in PVP) for the allotted time, but come back with silver and XP. Unfortunately, experience points seem to come quite a bit faster than silver, and when you reach advanced levels you'll often sit for hours or even days with all of your companion characters just waiting to level up, and thus not gaining any new XP until they do.

Still, this game is free, it's fun, it is positively loaded with easter eggs and references for Marvel Comics fans (who would've thought they'd see The Hood in a video game, let alone alongside Jack O' Lantern). Playdom promises this game will link into other Marvel games in the future, as well, so even when you're done with the main missions, going back and mastering them all may be beneficial to you in the future, in this game and the next. And of course with more characters to recruit, new uniforms to unlock (Hawkeye and Black Widow's Avengers movie costumes are REALLY beneficial, people), and new characters and missions on the way, this game should prove a part of the daily life of Marvel fans everywhere. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go research some new ISO-8s to beef up my characters.

 

Tekken Hybrid

Reviewed on: PlayStation 3

Reviewed By: Lucas Siegel

'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

This one is a tough nut to crack. You see, the idea of Tekken Tag Tournament getting the HD treatment would normally make me jump out of my skin. Thinking back to days of yore, sitting in my college dorm room, the door wide open so that people could come through, play a couple of matches, get their asses handed to them by my Eddy, and be on their way is a great memory. This game made the PlayStation 2 for me, and made me actually like fighting games again for the first time in years.

The Tekken Tag HD portion of this three part package is exactly as advertised. It's the full original game wrapped in pretty new clothes. Seeing as most PS3s out there don't play PS2 games, it's a welcomed revisit to the past, and the game is just as fast-paced, high-intensity, combo-heavy fun as I remember.

Where the package lacks is in the other two features. The CGI film Tekken: Blood Vengeance is glossy, with a devilgene/genetic engineering fueled plot torn from the games. It's a fun, if overly-complicated film that shows off some incredibly choreographed fight scenes with over-the-top action that's sure to wow fans of the series. Again, just don't expect to, you know, care about the characters, the plot, or much else other than the awesome fight scenes. It all comes together in the end with a battle royal between three generations - Tekken series fans will know exactly which three characters I'm hinting at here.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue is a very light tease of the upcoming full sequel to Tag. Featuring 4 main characters from the movie, it shows what the game will look like (see: pretty), how it will essentially play (see: much like TTT but with slightly more powerful basic hits/throws), and leaves you wanting more. I suppose as a tease, it's completely 100% done its job in that way, and as a bonus feature, this is a pretty great deal. The problem is, it shared top billing with the HD remake of the original, and that's where they went wrong. Splitting billing makes it seem that there will be much more to this than 4 characters in a small arcade mode; they set themselves up for failure by setting fans up for mild disappointment.

Fans of Tekken Tag Tournament should definitely pick up Tekken Hybrid regardless. The movie will burn off an hour and a half with some vapid excitement, the tease of the sequel will start your countdown, and the original's HD version will consume hours of round-robin tournament fun with you and your friends. Just leave your dorm room door open.

 

Twisted Metal

Reviewed on: PS3

Review by: Seth Robison

'Rama Rating 6 out 10

After ten years in the garage Twisted Metal is back, renewing a franchise for which “gunning the engine” was meant to be taken literally. Unfortunately for a game all about vehicular combat (think part demolition derby, part third person shooter) it doesn't take long, especially for long-time fans of the series, to get the feeling that this game is really in combat with itself. 

In a significant change from the past entries in the series, the fighting-game style mechanic of picking a single car/driver unit and playing though tiers of battles to the end has been replaced with a single string of challenges broken up into three mini-arcs. The larger narrative about the Faustian wish-granter Calypso remains, but each of the game's three acts stars a pre-chosen character instead. Gone are the dozen or so Twilight Zone-style storyline, players instead only experience the stories of franchise mascot and murderous clown Kane (aka Sweet Tooth), the biker outlaw Mr. Grimm and the beauty obsessed Dollface in sequence.

In perhaps a sign of a shift in the game's development somewhere along the line their individual story segments, while played out in impressively produced cut-scenes, don't gel with certain aspects of the gameplay. For one, the link between the driver character and their signature vehicle is lost.  Now you can pick any (or several depending on the stage) unlocked car for any stage. While this might seem useful, especially in stages that allow you to swap out damaged cars for fresh ones, it will inevitably lead players to just stick with the cars they are comfortable with as the difficulty ramps up sharply, lessening the experience. Also most of the vehicles feature a character 'riding shotgun,' while the in-game voice overs try to explain that they are “members of the player character’s gang” this doesn’t match up with what is happening in the story told between the stages.

In place of the challenge to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each individual car, Twisted Metal instead plays with the rules of each battle, ramping up the difficultly with each iteration. Apart from the pure deathmatch stages, there are miniboss-style fights with heavily armed, armored and endlessly enemy spawning trucks, ill-conceived almost game-breaking races and some very ambitious but questioningly designed boss fights that at least feature mid-fight checkpoint saves.

Multiplayer, if you have their version of the Online Pass, is where Twisted Metal is really going to find its audience. In addition to the standard modes like Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, the unique Nuke mode has you hunting down the other team's leader so you can sacrifice him for a chance to manually fly a nuclear-tipped cruse missile at the enemy's “base” for a very satisfying end to a match.

Online is also a safer, less frustrating place to try out the different cars, and explore the game's impressive and very destructible stages, especially the amusement park with its different themed areas.  In fact, all of the mechanics of Twisted Metal are superb. The driving controls are well turned for a game in which racing is not the goal (which only serves to aggravate the jarring nature of the aforementioned races) and the soundtrack packed with licensed music well chosen to fit the action thematically.

Twisted Metal was a good choice to lengthen the short list of PlayStation exclusives, but this new entry could have use a bit of a tune up first.

 

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations

Reviewed on: PS3

Reviewed by: Lucas Siegel

'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10

If you're not a Naruto fan already, you can basically stop reading this review now as this game will not interest you, plain and simple. If you're not a fighting game fan, likewise, this game probably won't be the one to crack the barrier for you. But if you're a Naruto fan and a fan of fighting games, particularly anime-based ones, you will find a lot to like in this game, provided you don't mind also being frustrated as a nine-tailed fox spirit trapped in the body of an impetuous boy at times.

You see, this game, made clearly for fans of the property, does a lot right. There are so many characters and collectibles that the 20 or so story mode characters you can play through will all still have unique items and bits to unlock. The stories themselves are ripped directly from the anime, complete with still shots taken from the show, telling various characters' tales all from their perspective. Likewise, certain jutsu, the game's big special moves, will trigger a quick animated cutscene that is ripped straight from the animated series. Voices (both English Voice Actors and Japanese Seiyuu) are the same as the show, so everyone will sound exactly as they should, regardless of which way you decide to play the game. You're not breaking much new ground (there are scattered new clips), though, mostly playing the stories you (if you've read this far, most likely) already know and love.

The pace of the fights is strange. The game rewards you for being a selective fighter, but the actual battles almost have to take place at an insanely fast rate if you want any chance of surviving. Also, unless you're a fighting expert, this game is just plain hard. Even at the "super easy" setting, you'll find battles cripplingly difficult and intensely frustrating inside of the first 5 or 6 match ups. That's right, only 5 battles into the first storyline you may very well simply turn off your PS3 and walk away, or maybe at least turn on the show on Netflix streaming. If you have patience, and an above-average ability at fighting games, however, you're awarded with flashy visuals, exciting assist-based combos, and a selection of characters that likely has never been matched in a fighting game.

This game makes no apologies for what it is: a game specifically for Naruto Shippuden fans. And that's fine, as it serves them well. The difficulty is likely going to hold most casual fans back, and certainly presents new fans from just enjoying the story or getting the basics from the game, pulling them into the show or the manga it spawned from. That seems like an incredible missed opportunity, and is the main thing holding this game back from getting a 7 or 8 out of 10. For presentation and faithfulness to the property, this definitely gets a 10, but its niche mentality and high entry level make it tough to recommend to any but the most die-hard fans.

 

Asura's Wrath

Reviewed on: Xbox 360

Reviewed by: Seth Robison

'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10

Asura's Wrath, out now for the PS3 and Xbox 360 from Capcom, poses an interesting questions to gamers: what is the ratio of actual game to passive spectacle that you can stand before your wrath borders that of colossal, earth-shattering fury that the titular demigod embodies? It behooves anyone contemplating a run at Asura's Wrath that the actual playable portion of this title clocks in under three hours. Three hours that are wrapped up in the most visually impressive single player experience seen on consoles since Bayonetta.

In a pseudo-Buddhist sci-fi universe, proud demigod General Asura fights alongside his allies against a parasitic evil threatening all life on the Earth-like planet of Gaia until he is betrayed and killed by his fellows in a cosmic power coup. His wife mudered and his daughter kidnapped, Asura, too angry for Hell to hold, bursts back to life for some divine, God Of War style, revenge on a scale never before imagined. Tied tight to the action, the story plays out episodically as if were a short-running anime serial. Fans of that form will instantly recognize storytelling tropes from the extensive use of flashbacks to the existence of a rival character to stand as a conflicted counterpoint to the hero's single mindedness, this adherence to the mold even extended to the meta-level, as episodes are broken up by fake 'commercial bumpers' (there are no ads) to narrated 'next time on' clip packages of what's coming up in the next chapter. The game's eighteen episodes use teasers and cliffhangers so well then even though you are given two oppositions to stop playing between each one, you'll likely stick with it just to see what happens next and sadly, to what degree you can actually participate.

Amidst the many of the more action-packed cutscenes that fill out the bulk of the game's running time, the first of the title's gameplay elements emerges: quick-time events. Thankfully outside of some critical moments, most of the events have little impact on the overall game, misses and mistimed entries mostly just impact your end-of-episode rating instead of giving you a game over. Mostly they seem to be there to sell impactful (read: face punching) moments and to break up the longer cutscenes that would otherwise have putting the controller down for a while as they play themselves out.  More welcome are the rail segments where you attack with rapid fire fist-bolts or a lock on shot that satisfyingly never is lacking for stuff onscreen to lock on to. Those fist-bolts are even acceptable in the remaining portion of the playable part of the game: a 3D brawler. Combat in these often too-short sequences are, along with the aforementioned ranged attack, a two-button affair: a spamable light attack and a heavy attack that needs recharging after each use. Dive attacks and counters round it out, along with finishing moves and a pair of meters that indicates when you can go into a power-increasing Unlimited Mode, and when you can go into Burst Mode, which just signals when you've played enough for now and its time to trigger the next cutscene. While your foes begin to repeat quickly, once you get a hang of the tricky lock-on system, you'll begin to dispatch your opposition with speed and brutality, at least when the game gets out of your way and lets you.

The world of Asura's Wrath is an impeccably beautiful, almost worship-worthy, masterwork of design. Capcom's touch for fine character design and background detail is here in spades, and each of the game's set-piece visual moments is quickly superseded by the next in sheer 'wow-factor,' again and again. The satisfying boss fights alone amaze even in their setting, including a fight on the surface of the moon set to a stirring piece of classical music and a running battle amidst a fleet of spaceborn warships.

Outside of a few unlocks for finishing each of the episodes even quicker than you already can, there are none of the trappings of the modern single player game like character leveling/development or branching paths to encourage replay. One could see the developers not wanted to extend the game in order to give their art team a break, but the overall experience is hampered by the extreme brevity of actual gameplay to the same degree as its buoyed by its visuals. Keeping in mind that quantity is not the same as quality, players of Asura's Wrath still might find themselves a little wrathful that they didn't get a lot of game in their game.

 

Need for Speed: The Run

Reviewed on: Xbox 360

Review by: Seth Robison

'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10

Need for Speed: The Run, out now for all major platforms, first should be applauded for bringing something new to the almost two decade old racing franchise, even if that 'something new' is anything but.  Its central conceit: the titular Run, a high-stakes cross-county race from San Francisco to New York, via Las Vegas, Denver and Chicago, is a welcome break from world of circuit tracks and drag races, even if the concept is as old as the arcade title Crusin' USA, movies like Cannonball Run and the real life races of the 70s that inspired them all.  The Run doubles down on the new features by incorporating both a plot and sequences that take place out from behind the wheel.

Instead of a faceless driver in a fancy car, the player takes the role of Jack Rourke, voiced in an unremarkable preformance by Sean Faris (The Vampire Diaries), an expert street racer in deep trouble with an ill-defined nation-spanning criminal organization.  To clear his debts he is sponsored in The Run, organized by a different nation-spanning criminal organization, by friend and fixer, Sam Harper, portrayed in a thankless sidekick role by Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), and must not only win the race, but survive the journey as both cops and criminals look to take him out.  Amazingly, from there, the characterization gets even shallower.  Only four of your rivals competing in the race, out of two hundred and fifty, are given as much depth as can be read on a pre-race loading screen.  In an attempt to highlight the severity of Jack's situation, on occasions during the storyline race Jack must flee on foot from wrecks and roadblocks, engaging in QTE 'enhanced' cut-scenes to survive some close scrapes.  While this is a novel way to mix up the action, mirroring that tired old gaming canard of driving sequences inserted randomly into action/adventure titles, it’s also just about as welcome.

The race is broken into segments, each with one of a couple different goals from a straight up checkpoint race, to more challenging drives where you must pass a certain number of other cars before the end of the segment, or in 'boss battles' against the aforementioned rivals: catch, pass and hold a lead against several of them in sequence.  As in other street-racing themed Need For Speed games, races are complicated by intervention of the local authorities that will set up roadblocks and try to ram you off the road. Refreshingly, their intervention isn't narrowed to your participation, aggressive driving on the part of the police will affect your competitors as well.  To actively aid your efforts, The Run grants the driver a set of 'replays' that will rewind a race back to the last checkpoint instead of the stage beginning either automatically after a crash or triggered manually if you make a particularly bad move.  On the other hand an experience/rank up/perks unlock system is shoehorned in, keeping certain driving skills/better equipment locked to new racers until they are at least part of the way into the storyline, a baffling decision that handicaps new players in a passive attempt to adapt this game to fit with the Need For Speed meta-game social application Autolog, which is also used to track times on courses unlocked for multiplayer competition.

Clearly the plot of Need for Speed: The Run is not much more than garnish for the gameplay, which combines the conceit of the premise with the time-tested driving game mechanics to create some very gripping moments during races.  Dodging both local traffic and your competitors at high speeds on real roads, (in name anyway, but for geography buffs, tacking the race route across the country is fun in and of itself) is about as close to recreating that particular kind of suicidal behavior as most would dare.

The Frostbite 2 engine helps create some amazing visuals as the race transitions to and from urban, mountainous, desert and plains environments.  They are not passive settings either, an avalanche sequence in the Rocky Mountains has you dodging rocks while keeping pace with the clock, as does a desert dust storm, dodging between elevated train supports in Chicago while being chased by a helicopter and rolling thunderstorms that grow closer as you drive into them in the Great Plains.  Keep your sunglasses handy, since you are racing east and you seem to spend an inordinate time racing while the sun rises. The cars in game are the usual collection of licensed vehicles 'souped up' for racing, and take (racing video game) damage well, but there little opportunity for true gear heads to tweak engines and things like wheel balance as in the more severe simulators.  The more advanced/expensive looking cars are unlocked as the race progresses, and you are given several opportunities to switch out your ride.  The game recommends that you eschew ascetics for better handing rides in the mountains and faster cars for flatlands, but the mix of courses in each stage is varied enough with curves and straightaways that this strategy is rendered moot.  An eclectic soundtrack of licensed music rounds off the A/V experience, featuring acts as varied as Black Keys, Mastodon andCanned Heat.  A welcome change from publishers looking to offset costs by jamming games with 'product placed' tracks.

Despite the real world distance from sea to shining sea, Need for Speed: The Run is not a time-consuming experience, and apart from looking to shave seconds off your overall time there is little reason for gamers to play more than once solo.  However, despite its faults, the experience is tense and compelling and it would be the rare gamer that stopped playing before they’ve won the race at least once.

 

Jak and Daxter Collection in HD

Reviewed on: PS3

Reviewed by: Lucas Siegel

'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

They're called "classics" for a reason, folks. The Jak and Daxter series from superstar developer Naughty Dog was a defining series for the PlayStation2 and for 3D platformers in general. As part of the recent HD remake explosion (ahem… just scroll up), all three titles from yesteryear were put onto one shiny blu ray so PS3 gamers who may have missed this the first time around can enjoy the hopping, exploring, bopping, and laughing and laughing and laughing adventures of a boy and his mutated-into-a-meerkat-like-creature friend. These are classic platformers with many of the tropes and features you simply expect out of today's games in the genre, except in many cases it was these games that invented them. The controls, camera, attack schemes, collectibles - they're all the same from the original versions, it's just with a fresh coat of paint, and honestly, that's all that's needed for a reason to play these games anew. If you played and loved them before last generation, you now have a reason (and means) to do so again. If you missed them the first time around, now you can check them out in HD (and 3D if your TV is so equipped), and see why Naughty Dog was on the map long before the stellar Uncharted series.

 

Dynasty Warriors Next

Reviewed on: PlayStation Vita

Reviewed by: Lucas Siegel

'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

You either love this style of game, and this series in particular, or it's just not your bag. And that's fine. Regardless, this is the best Dynasty Warriors has ever been. With pocket-sized battles of about 6-10 minutes (perfect for a quick subway ride), graphics that rival home consoles, and fantastic use of the Vita's many inputs, this game is as much proof of concept for Sony's newest handheld as it is just plain fun to play. You hack, you slash, you unleash massive attacks that require you to slide your fingers over the touchscreen or rapidly tap the rear touchpad like your fingers are skittering bugs, and watch the kill count rise into the hundreds and even thousands. Mini-game distractions like Duels and "tap the screen to shoot projectiles out of the sky" are mostly just that, distractions, but do break up the near-mindlessness of the main game. In a world full of deep-thinkers and role playing games that have 50 stories to juggle around, sometimes some mindless hack and slash is exactly what you need. That makes this an absolute must-own for Vita gamers starving for new titles, and one of the finest launch titles out there.

 

Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Reviewed on: PlayStation Vita

Reviewed by: Lucas Siegel

'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

The biggest fear with a massively successful, original, and fun franchise going from console to portable is simply that by making it smaller and on-the-go friendly you will lose that it factor that makes it what it is. Luckily, that didn't happen in this case, and Golden Abyss is 100% an game. The scope feels huge, even on the smaller screen. The graphics and presentation overall are better than the first chapter released for PlayStation 3. The humor, the stellar voice acting, the romance (both in the love definition and the scope of beauty definition) are all in place. As are some issues with aiming during gun battles (though the gyroscopic controls for aiming sniper rifles can be pretty cool), some mildly repetitive tasks, and some frustrating platforming elements. The Vita-specific controls are all pretty fun. The climbing portion of platforming is insanely easy with the trace and go mechanic; it will genuinely be difficult to go back to climbing mountainsides the same way in the console versions, and the aforementioned move-the-whole-Vita-to-aim can be fun, as long as you generally line up your shot ahead of time and have a scope to look through. Some of the others, like rubbing the screen to do a charcoal rubbing of an artifact or spinning scrap papers around to make a puzzle take away from the action and momentum of the story too much, and just scream "Look! We have a touch screen!" Still, this is Uncharted and it fits in your pocket. The worst thing, really, about this game is the time I missed my subway stop in NYC because I was so utterly involved in the story that was unfolding in front of me. Take some of the needless gimmicks out of the next one, ace the controls, and we'll be playing a 10 out of 10 Uncharted wherever we want in no time.

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