The El33tonline Buyer’s Guide for Holiday 2012: PS Vita

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The PS Vita was released in February earlier this year and has slowly gained momentum as its software library has increased and new features such as PSone Classics support have been introduced via firmware updates. Featuring advanced network features and impressive graphical capabilities, the PS Vita is a powerful handheld that provides a fantastic portable gaming experience for PlayStation fans and newcomers alike.

There hasn’t been a huge variety of software released for PS Vita during 2012 but this is to be expected during a handheld’s first year on the market. While the PS Vita has received many ports during the past year, there have also been some amazing exclusives that really showcase what the system is capable of.

The following ten titles are the games I consider to be the most enjoyable and exciting PS Vita releases of 2012:

LittleBigPlanet PS Vita (R369 on PlayStation Store)

El33tonline Game of The Year Nominee Large Icon If there’s one game that demonstrates the kind of unique and magical experiences that are possible on Sony’s handheld it’s LittleBigPlanet PS Vita. This game features some of the best level design in the series and boasts intuitive creation tools that will help you get your own levels up and running in no time at all.

Gameplay is more varied than previous LittleBigPlanet titles thanks to the PS Vita’s extra inputs such as touch and tilt, and you’ll never run out of community levels to play through alone or with friends.

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Rayman Origins (R369 on PlayStation Store)

Rayman Origins Large Icon Rayman Origins’ transition from the PS3 to the PS Vita is flawless, and the game’s beautiful 2D art really pops on the handheld’s OLED screen. Featuring loads of ingeniously designed levels, enemies and bosses, Rayman Origins continually surprises and delights as you jump, swim and glide through its lengthy quest.

There are plenty of challenging side levels to conquer, and the game’s learning curve is such that even platforming veterans will be kept on their toes throughout Rayman’s latest adventure.

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Uncharted: Golden Abyss (R469 on PlayStation Store)

Uncharted: Golden Abyss Large Icon Nathan Drake returns in this prequel to the Uncharted series we know and love on PS3. Featuring a cast of new characters and at least one familiar face, Uncharted: Golden Abyss sees Drake doing what he does best in a number of exotic environments that include the jungles of Panama.

Besides featuring some incredible graphics and quality voice acting, one of the game’s best features is being to make small adjustments to your aim by moving the PS Vita in the desired direction.

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Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection (R299 on PlayStation Store)

Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection Large Icon I have fond memories of playing through MGS2 and MGS3 on PS2 and the Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection on PS Vita transported me right back to the glory days of this polarising series. Both games are presented in a widescreen ratio and feature cleverly designed Trophy lists, while the PS Vita’s touch screen can be used to quickly select weapons or items.

The graphics are crisp and look better than ever on the console’s OLED screen, while the frame rate is easily comparable to the original games.

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Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation (R469 on PlayStation Store)

Assassin's Creed III: Liberation Large Icon Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is nowhere near as feature-filled or polished as its home console counterparts but this doesn’t stop the game from being one of 2012’s best handheld adventure titles. The PS Vita’s touch screen is put to great use to quickly select weapons or mark waypoints on the map, while the game’s graphics are richly detailed and prove that Sony’s handheld has no problem running large open-world environments.

Hopefully this won’t be the last Assassin’s Creed game that we see on PS Vita because the series feels like a natural fit for the console.

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Mortal Kombat (R419 on PlayStation Store)

Mortal Kombat Large Icon Mortal Kombat is an incredible achievement on PS Vita because it packs in all the content of the PS3 release and adds an all-new Challenge Tower featuring dozens of Vita-specific mini-games. The development team was intent on keeping the PS Vita version running at 60 frames per second so the character models don’t look nearly as good as they do on PS3, but the game still looks great in motion and feels responsive and smooth thanks to the slick frame rate.

If you’re a fan of fighting games with extensive, well-developed story modes then don’t miss out on Mortal Kombat!

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Smart As (R269 on PlayStation Store)

Smart As Large Icon I wasn’t expecting Smart As to be as entertaining as it turned out to be, but Daily Challenges and a wide variety of online leaderboards kept me hooked while I was reviewing this intelligently designed brain training game. It’s quick and easy to post your results to Facebook and Twitter, and it never gets old trying to achieve the highest Brain Power score in your neighbourhood, city or country.

This game becomes a far richer experience when you take it online so bear this in mind if you don’t have access to 3G or WiFi.

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Need for Speed: Most Wanted (R499 on PlayStation Store)

Need For Speed: Most Wanted Large Icon Need for Speed: Most Wanted is another example of a port that takes full advantage of the PS Vita’s advanced network features and graphical capabilities. The game packs in all the modes, cars and environments from the PS3 release although races generally involve fewer cars than the home console version.

The best thing about Need for Speed: Most Wanted is being able to see how you stack up to your friends no matter which platform they are playing it on, and your progress is saved to the Cloud so you can continue where you left off if you happen to play the game on another console.

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Gravity Rush (R369 on PlayStation Store)

Gravity Rush Large Icon Japan Studio is renowned for creating innovative handheld titles such as Patapon and LocoRoco, and Gravity Rush is no exception. Featuring an interesting gravity-shifting gameplay mechanic and beautiful, comic book cut-scenes, Gravity Rush has an incredibly unique visual style and atmosphere that sets it apart from other PS Vita titles.

This is the kind of game that’s easy to lose yourself in as explore leading lady Kat’s otherworldly surroundings and unravel the mysteries that lurk around every corner in the floating town of Hekseville.

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If you enjoyed this feature, be sure to read the rest of El33tonline’s 2012 Buyer’s Guides (so far):

The El33tonline Buyer’s Guide for Holiday 2012: Wii U

The El33tonline Buyer’s Guide for Holiday 2012: Sports Games