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 PLAYSTATION VITA FEATURE
Pocket Gamer's Top 10 Games of the Year 2012 - PS Vita Edition
Charted Territory
 
Top 10 PS Vita charts PS Vita, thumbnail 1
Here we are, then: the Game of the Year awards ceremony for PlayStation Vita, a platform that reputedly has no decent games on it. This might get a bit awkward.

Oh, wait... the Vita's got plenty of great games.

Just where has this negative perception of the device come from, anyway?

It's only been out since mid-February in the West, and already there are some absolutely corking games for Sony's latest system. So many, in fact, that we've had to do a mini round-up at the foot of the piece, giving honourable mentions to games we just didn't have space to include.

First things first, though, it's time to pick out the very best of the best on Vita in 2012, starting with one of my absolute favourite titles of the year, regardless of platform.

Escape Plan
By Fun Bits Interactive - buy on PSN Store



I will personally fistfight anyone who has played this and doesn't think it's Game of the Year material.

Lil and Laarg are incredibly well designed: warm and squishy; cold and waxy; cutesy and ugly; jam packed with personality, yet never uttering a word.

I cared for them so deeply by the end of the game that in the final escape from the evil Bakuki I was genuinely shouting at my Vita's screen, urging them to move faster. And that final twist? A stroke of genius. Puzzle-platforming at its very best.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss
By Bend Studio - buy on PSN Store



No, it's not the full Uncharted experience you were hoping for. And, no, it doesn't move the overarching story forward as satisfactorily as you might have wanted. Still, this is a top, top shooter.

Ignore the artefact-cleaning touchscreen rubbish Bend Studio implemented, and concentrate instead on the pitched battles, traipsing through lush environments, and the excellent soundtrack.

The bombastic set pieces of the home console series are nowhere to be seen, but its core gameplay remains - and that's what's important, minute to minute.

Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection
By Konami - buy MGS2 on PSN Store, buy MGS3 on PSN Store



What's better than a Metal Gear Solid game?

Well, how about TWO Metal Gear Solid games, spruced up with HD visuals, and boasting all of the extras that came with the expanded editions (Substance and Subsistence). Everything except the multiplayer and skateboarding, that is, which I'm still kind of bitter about.

MGS2 and MGS3 have barely aged: the techno-thriller stories are still just as intriguing as they were on debut, and the stealth-action gameplay is as impressively tense as it was back in the day.

Velocity
By FuturLab - buy on PSN Store



Fly up the screen, shoot bad guys with lasers. It's a well-worn trope in video games, I admit, but Velocity experiments with the formula and creates its own blend of cerebral shmup action in the process.

With a teleporter on hand to zip through solid objects and launchable beacons that can be warped back to replay sections of the level you've just visited, you can now fight back against the constantly scrolling screens that are typical of the genre.

Open doors to make progress, take another pass at enemies you've passed, pick up survivors you've missed, all while racing the clock.

Simple? Sure. Brilliant? Absolutely.

Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack
By DrinkBox Studios - buy on PSN Store



Physics-based platforming is the order of the day here, as you roll, stretch, and slide around an ever-shrinking world in the form of a constantly expanding blob monster.

It's worth the price of entry for the devilishly sweet construction paper aesthetic, or for the brilliantly understated yet incredibly epic ending.

But, the thoughtful use of gravity (and other forces) upon the player avatar is what makes this dark gaming experience truly stand out.

Rayman Origins
By Ubisoft - buy on PSN Store



Forget New Super Mario Bros. or anything featuring a blue hedgehog, Rayman Origins is the best 2D platformer in recent years by a very big margin.

The 3DS version is a pile of shonk, but the Vita edition is remarkably close to its home console counterpart, especially in terms of visual polish.

The animation is smoother than a hairless car salesman's bonce, the 2D art is so sharp it practically cracks the screen, and the audio work is some of the best I've heard from any studio in the last five years.

Millimetre-perfect platforming, a massive adventure, and a superb sense of humour - Rayman Origins is a hoot.

Everybody's Golf
By Clap Hanz - buy on PSN Store



The dearly departed* Wee Willy Wilson reviewed this back at launch, and continued playing it for months afterwards. It's safe to say he was - ahem - hooked, and I can see why.

Put simply, it's the Everybody's Golf you know and love, but with more features and content than ever before.

The swing mechanic isn't as refined as the one in a Tiger Woods sim, but the precise button-based timing system is perfect for Sony's handheld. Ace stuff.

*Don't worry: our ex-deputy editor is alive and well. And working for NaturalMotion. Don't panic!!

Zen Pinball 2
By Zen Studios - buy on PSN Store



No debate: this is the very best pinball game on the market right now.

If you've an interest in bumpers and flippers, then, well, you've probably already bought it and are ploughing through the massive roster of DLC tables the game has up its sleeve.

Each pin looks great, but the thing that makes it really shine is its creativity. These pinball tables really push the boundaries, meaning that hammering steel balls at flashing lights has never been so rewarding.

Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward
By Chunsoft - buy on PSN Store



Paranoia's a powerful thing, and Virtue's Last Reward explores this in great depth.

It's you against a group of strangers (or are they?) in an abandoned warehouse (or is it?) solving riddles to escape to freedom (or do you?).

The superbly written narrative is fleshed out with room escape-style puzzles, which are tackled via graceful strokes of the Vita's large screen. Though not immediately flashy, this game leaves a sobering impression. Trust me.

Big Sky Infinity
By VooFoo Studios and Boss Baddie - buy on PSN Store



A very late entry onto this list (at the time of writing, it's the most recent Vita game we've reviewed), Big Sky Infinity squeaks in at the death on account of its audacious use of colour, explosions, and thump-thump-thumping soundtrack.

No play session is ever the same: each run is automatically generated by the game's engine, while the difficulty is manipulated on the fly depending on how well you're performing.

With leaderboard integration for competing with mates, Big Sky Infinity quickly becomes a compulsive 'just one more go' experience.

Honourable mentions, a.k.a. great Vita games that didn't quite make the list

Wizorb (Breakout evolves, includes 8-bit art style to die for).

PulzAR (an AR game that finally makes the technology fun).

Floating Cloud God Saves The Pilgrims (for the sheer stress of balancing aggression with defence).

Rebel
(it's the ultimate in pacifist action).

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (huge city, fast cars, top tunes).

SunFlowers (simply joyous).

WipEout 2048 (so fast your eyes bleed).

Gravity Rush (quirky and stylish).
 

Reviewer photo
Peter Willington 30 December 2012
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