Killzone: Mercenary, the latest attempt to bring a genuine first-person shooter experience to Sony's PlayStation Vita, is an example of getting exactly what you wish for. And then wondering if you made the right wish.
"We want a handheld games machine with dual thumbsticks so we can play proper shooters!" we cried. "We want amazing graphics power so games look almost as good as they do on the big-boy consoles!" we shouted.
Then we got the Vita. And then we got Killzone: Mercenary. And now all I can think is, "Why the heck did I ever want to play a game like this on a handheld?"
The Killzone franchise has always been one of technical greatness but snoozeworthy storylines, and Mercenary isn't much different. One welcome tweak here is that players operate as a titular hired gun, undertaking missions for both the ISA (good guys) and the Helghast (the dudes with the glowing orange eyes), earning cash to buy new weapons and upgrades. It not only allows for a nice mix of locales and objectives, but the promise of more money leading to better guns is very carrot-and-stick-y, and should hold your attention through Mercenary's six-hour campaign.
The game is a visual marvel, but those tiny, nubby thumbsticks on the Vita add a learning curve that must be overcome before the controls feel natural. And even then, they never fully gel.
Mercenary includes multiplayer modes with the standard deathmatch fare and the objective-based Warzone, but it's hard to imagine investing a ton of time in learning the layouts and nuances of the multiplayer levels. Handhelds are designed for bite-sized play, and if I'm going to pour several weeks into a multiplayer shooter, it's going to be one I play on the couch, not on the bus.
I feel bad for saying this, but Mercenary makes me excited for Sony's recently announced PS Vita TV peripheral, which will allow many Vita games to be played on your big screen TV using a standard PlayStation 3 DualShock controller. There's no word yet on when Vita TV will come to North America (it goes on sale in Japan in November) but when it does, I look forward to returning to Mercenary, sans Vita. Wishes: granted. Purpose: defeated.
Where's the Grand Theft Auto V review?
If you came here today hoping for a Grand Theft Auto V review, we've got some good news and some bad news. The good news is, it's coming! The bad news is that even in the morally ambiguous world of Grand Theft Auto, patience is a virtue.
GTA V, which hits stores this Tuesday, is one of the most anticipated titles of the decade. It's also an absolutely massive game, set in the sprawling virtual city of Los Santos and its surrounding areas, and focusing on the intertwining stories of three very unique characters.
What that means is our GTA V review will take at least a couple of weeks, in order to give you a thorough, honest and accurate idea of the game's strengths and failings, rather than a rushed and superficial surface-scratch.
And let's face it -- you're probably buying the game the moment it comes out and booking off a couple of "sick" days to play, right? That's OK. We won't tell.
The Wonderful 101 (Wii U)
With all due respect to Mario and his funky friends, this is the game that we've been most excited about since the Wii U's release. Developed by Platinum Games, the Japanese studio behind MadWorld and Vanquish, it's a trippy, nutty action game that has players controlling a mob of disparate (and occasionally desperate) heroes.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (Wii U)
When it was first revealed for the Nintendo GameCube, this game's cartoony visuals made some fans throw hissy fits. But if you look past the (actually quite wonderful) cel-shaded graphics, it remains one of the highlights of the Zelda franchise. This Wii U re-release features upgraded high-def visuals and lots of other little tweaks.
The Elder Scrolls Anthology (PC)
Next time someone asks us, "If you could take just one game to a desert island, what would it be?" we'll have our answer. This bundle contains all five entries in the celebrated Elder Scrolls role-playing game series: Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim. Now all we need is a year or two of free time to play them again.