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The Good, Bad and Ugly of the Playstation Vita Launch Lineup

Playstation / Wipeout 2048

We waded through a metric poop-ton of games for the new PlayStation Vita. Typical of a launch lineup, they were mostly retreads of other popular series, dumbed down and rushed out in order to scramble against one another for free-flowing gaming dollars spent by people looking for something — anything — to play.

Here are all the games we got our grubby mitts on, divided into tiers of worthiness.

Must-buys:

Uncharted: Golden Abyss — The Uncharted series is our favorite PS3 time-killer. This portable side-story about the adventures of Indiana Jones-esque hero Nathan Drake is way easier and smaller-scale than its three bigger brothers, but still makes for the best the system currently has to offer.

Lumines Electronic Symphony — The falling blocks puzzle game is straight-up evil, tricking you into playing just one more round then magically turning the clock til 3:30 a.m. and running your battery down. You may as well slip crack into the Vita’s game card drive.

Wipeout 2048 — Because the racer is basically the same game that’s been out for years on the PS3, there’s already a bunch of people playing it online. You can use the Vita to take these fools on directly. Hopefully Sony does more of this incest in the future.

Games we like but are not “in like” with:

Rayman Origins Vita — A gorgeous-looking platformer that brings to mind the best of Mario and Sonic. The major drawback here is the lack of cooperative multiplayer on the console versions, which we loved to use to screw with our supposed teammates.

Touch My Katamari – It’s a very Japanese game about rolling a ball around and collecting junk, thus making your ball bigger so you can access other areas and collect bigger things. It’s a fun concept, but along with the wacky humor in the cut scenes, quickly grows old.

Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational — Some people use portable systems just for golf, and if that’s your style, this is your game. We’d rather sit back and wait for the more refined Tiger Woods entry, which is as inevitable as yet another final-round flop by its namesake.

FIFA Soccer — It looks pretty, but the tacked-on touch-screen passing is obnoxious and detracts from the experience. You can ignore the newfangled stuff and just play the old way, but you may as well hold out eight months or so for FIFA 13.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 — This is an excellent fighter, made easier by touch-screen combo controls. If you want to touch Hulk until he dies, this is the game for you. The console versions are better, though, so if you own a 360 or PS3 get the game on that system instead.

Super StarDust Delta – A simple twin-stick shooter, Delta tasks you to survive waves of enemies, beat your best scores and own the leaderboards. It’s the most 80s-style romp among its launch brethren.

Better-than-nothings:

Dungeon Hunter Alliance — A hack-and-slasher with some touches of real-time strategy and role-playing added in. It’s a fun diversion but way too repetitive and mindless.

Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen — Playing as a sneaky ninja, you wander around poorly designed maps, getting hopelessly loss until you’re more interesting in committing hara kiri than looking for your next kill.

ModNation Racers: Road Trip — The racer lacks online play, which would be a death blow if not for the inventively designed courses and the customization options. Load times are a touch too long and the opponents’ artificial intelligence is set to “cheating.”

Army Corps of Hell — Leading a group of minions through damnation, you attack larger creatures and harvest items they drop. This concept was so lame that even Nintendo got tired of making these games when it used the concept for its Pikmin franchise.

Don’t even accept as gifts:

Michael Jackson: The Experience – You touch the screen in time with the beats from the departed idol’s songs. If you really like his music, just listen to it rather than fondling your Vita to it.

Asphalt Injection — Terrible graphics and floaty controls make this racing game look and play like something on an iPhone. When you place a distant third in a lineup consisting of three racers, you deserve a cyanide injection.

Little Deviants — Touching the back of the device, you poke your fingers through virtual landmasses, rolling your hero this way and that to avoid obstacles and collect points-giving trinkets. It works well as a “cool, look at this!” tech demo, but is nothing but drudgery if you actually try to play throug this thing.

Games were provided by their publishers for review.

Read Phil Villarreal’s blog at becauseitoldyouso.com and follow him on Twitter:@philvillarreal

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