Yesterday, more than 60 members of the gaming press piled into our Vita Hill social club in San Francisco to go hands-on with a slew of updated PS Vita games. The event showcased everything from Escape Plan, MotorStorm RC, Super Stardust Delta, and UNCHARTED: Golden Abyss to Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Army Corps of Hell, FIFA Soccer… even Plants vs. Zombies (now confirmed!) joined in on the fun.
It was a memorable night, and one you can recreate right now if you happen to live near the San Francisco Bay Area — just visit the Vita Hill social club and bring some friends (the club is free and open to the public through mid-February). Expect to see these PS Vita social clubs expanding to new cities in the coming weeks. And a comprehensive PS Vita mall tour is currently rolling out across the country through December, so if you’ve been dying to play PS Vita right now, you’re certainly not short on options!
In other news, today also sees the release of a mother lode of new PS Vita gameplay trailers — 10 in all — covering the game’s launch software lineup and beyond (see the full collection here). When you’re done watching the new vids, read on for a full debriefing from PS Vita’s leading developers, starting with Bend Studios’ Creative Director John Garvin and UNCHARTED: Golden Abyss.
Introducing Intu-Aim to UNCHARTED: Golden Abyss
We started playing with the PS Vita’s hardware features very early in development of UNCHARTED: Golden Abyss. One of our earliest demos involved the player moving and rotating PS Vita to simulate an SLR camera viewfinder and, soon after, a sniper rifle’s scope. PS Vita’s sensitive and accurate motion sensors surprised us, making even the most subtle control adjustments a breeze.
Because the PS Vita is the first device that combines two analog sticks, a Sixaxis motion sensor and a touchscreen, we realized we could create a universal aiming system with fine-tuned controls that would be impossible on any other system. Core aiming still works best on the analog sticks: in over-the-shoulder mode, players still use the left stick to adjust Drake’s position and the right stick to adjust his aiming reticule – just as you would expect in any modern console game. But PS Vita adds a third input: you can can rotate your hands to subtly fine tune the reticule’s placement. Having everything on the same controller creates a synergy between your eyes, your thumbs and your hands that feels natural: use the sticks to aim at an enemy, use the motion sensor to aim at his head.
We’ve talked to focus testers who’ve spent hours with the game and didn’t even realize they were using the motion controls – it’s that subtle and intuitive. We call it Intu-aim, as opposed to auto-aim, because the player is in complete control. In fact, the player has more control than he’s ever had before. We think this mechanic will change the way shooters are played.
Nihilistic Software’s Studio Director Robert Huebner gave us a quick-and-dirty rundown on today’s new showing of Resistance: Burning Skies:
Showing off the Sixeye in Resistance: Burning Skies
It’s exciting to roll out a little bit more about the settings and story for Resistance: Burning Skies! Today we showed off a new mission that takes place on the George Washington Bridge during the first day of the Chimeran assault on the US eastern seaboard. The surprise attack has created a massive refugee crisis, with hordes of people jamming Manhattan’s bridges and tunnels only to be cut down by the relentless Chimeran forces (There’s more to that story, but we can save it for another day).
We also showed off some new weapons for the first time, including my personal favorite: the Sixeye. The Sixeye is a sniper rifle of Chimeran manufacture, and like the fan-favorite Bullseye, it features a tagging mode. But there’s a catch: Sixeye tags are timed proximity explosive devices that the player can implant either into enemies or into the world itself using the highly accurate scope. Old-fashioned grenades are handy, too, especially now that you simply touch PS Vita’s screen to accurately toss one and rid yourself of a few more Chimera.
The game is shaping up great, and we’re pleased to see how true to the experience of the original Resistance franchise we have gotten on PS Vita. After a few minutes of hands-on time, it’s easy to forget you’re even playing on a portable device!
Associate Producer Kumi Yuasa demonstrated new character progression details in the upcoming mindbending adventure Gravity Rush:
New Powers in Gravity Rush
Kat keeps adding new gravity-defying skills as she explores this upside-down world, and today we introduced two useful new powers for the first time. One is called “Gravity Slide.” If you hold left and right corners of the PS Vita’s 5’’ OLED screen at the same time, Kat will start sliding as if she’s on a skateboard. Then you can tilt PS Vita to turn left or right. If you run into an enemy while gravity sliding, you will automatically attack the enemy with greater force.
The other skill is called “Stasis Field,” and it allows Kat to levitate objects and hurl them in any direction. You can use this skill to defeat flying enemies or to move objects and people during missions. As you enhance it, you will be able to grab more and more objects at the same time.
These two skills will come in handy during side missions where you need to defeat as many enemies as possible within the time limit, or when you need to pass through every checkpoint to complete a race. Use every gravity skill and trick at your disposal to enjoy this game to the fullest!
And finally, Zipper Interactive’s Creative Director Seth Luisi dropped by to show off a new build of Unit 13, the studio’s social shooter:
Unit 13: How 3G Expands Social Combat
We have made a lot of progress over the past few weeks, so jumped at the chance to travel from Seattle to San Francisco to show off the latest for Unit 13. If you aren’t up to speed, Unit 13 is a modern-day third person military shooter designed exclusively for PS Vita. As a member of the highly specialized military and intelligence group known as Unit 13, you’ll choose one of six operatives to master 45 challenging, action-packed missions while unlocking new gear, skills, mods, and guns. Each mission is pick up and play and can last anywhere from five to 30 minutes depending on how you decide to play. All missions can be played solo or via online two-player co-op.
We also had Unit 13 connected via 3G to show off the extensive social and competitive features. The in-game notification center is a hub that provides real-time alerts on status updates, leaderboard positions, and Daily Challenges. Get a high score, post, and see how you are doing against your friends and those Near you, both regionally and globally. You can access all these features via Wi-Fi, but the 3G connectivity allows you access to the information almost anytime and anywhere. This comes in handy when competing for rare “High Value Targets,” which are accessible for scoring high in different missions. High Value Targets unlock at 20 stars and go all the way up to 180 stars. One cool thing about HVTs: if you are on my PSN friends list or available via Near and I defeat a High Value Target, you get a notification to play – even if you haven’t unlocked the mission! It lasts for a finite time, so let’s hope you’re ready for that one shot!
We’re very excited about the positive feedback we’ve received on the game, and how it’s naturally an engaging and competitive social experience with lots of ways to play. Stay tuned to the PlayStation.Blog for more news and updates.
What PS Vita title are you most interested in trying for yourself?