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Feature: Augmented Reality Suite on the PS Vita

Augmented Reality games are still in the ‘undecided’ zone as far as most gamers are concerned, however Sony is a keen believer in this area of gaming. Its latest piece of hardware, the PlayStation Vita, is of course an ideal machine for AG games, it’s portable, has two cameras and has the ability to play these titles with or without the play cards.

The three titles which arrive at the launch of PS Vita make use of the system’s Augmented Reality features are Fireworks, Table Football and Cliff Diving. Given that they are more of a showcase rather than full blown out games, we decided that rather than review these titles we would give you an overview of each one, so let’s get started.

Cliff Diving

Cliff Diving is a fairly simple game. You control a character known as Dan who you take around various scenarios, diving from cliffs of some form or another.

By placing your AR card on a flat surface, the rear camera will then transform this into a cliff for Dan to dive from. The game starts off easy enough with a simple cliff and a pool at the bottom for him to land in. To pull of the perfect dive you must hit the ‘X’ button when Dan runs onto the  marker. Holding ‘X’ will give you the angle of your dive, then once perfect you can let go and watch the results.

Things get a little bit more complicated later on, with the game adding in adrenaline and different types of dives. To use adrenaline you simply tap the green area using the rear touch pad, this helps build up his courage for a better dive. As you complete each dive more unlock, requiring you to hit a preset face button in time for him to successfully dive through the targets, if you fail it will result in some rather amusing consequences and a few hospital bills.

The main aim of Cliff Diving is to earn cash by pulling off each of the dives, do this successfully and you’ll go on to unlock all manner of cliffs and they certainly get a lot more difficult, seeing you diving from helicopters, icebergs and cranes. You can even create a custom cliff using surfaces in your home, allowing you to choose the height he dives from.

Cliff Diving is a fairly decent game, I certainly enjoyed watching Dan crashing into the pool and on occasion missing it completely. I’m sure this will bring a smile to a few faces out there.

FireWorks

The idea behind Fireworks is a simple one really. To play you simply place up to three Augmented Reality cards on a flat surface and wait for the PS Vita to recognise them.

Once you are all set up you will see a house in the place of each card. When the game starts fireworks will start to head towards the sky surrounded by a target, with your goal behind to tap it at the pinnacle of its flight, causing it to light up the sky in spectacular fashion. The idea behind this is to get the perfect score for each firework, which in turn will increase your multiplier and overall score.

Playing with one card this game gets boring rather quickly, however since you can lose if you let more than three fireworks drop to the ground, adding in more cards makes for a big challenge. The higher you score, the more types of fireworks you’ll unlock.

Away from the Table Top game, Fireworks does provide a few other modes, such as Infinite Mode, where your goal is to keep hitting the fireworks, although here they just keep coming. As you get to the end of each stage you’ll unlock a challenge, such as just targeting the ‘red’ rockets, for example. If you manage to do this well you’ll earn a bonus rocket before moving on.

Fireworks certainly brings out the kid in you, recreating November 5 in your front room and without the expense of heading out to your local store to stock up on rockets.

Table Football

Table Football is probably the game I was looking forward to most. It’s basically Subbuteo on your PS Vita.

The game is set up by first of all placing three AR cards down to determine where you would like the pitch to be. Once this is done you place the other three AR cards down, two for the stands and one for the score board. For me at least, this was all a bit of a fiddly process, with the cards often becoming out of range or the stands sitting the wrong way around. Eventually though I did managed to figure it out.

Once you have got the pitch on your screen, you can actually move the cards to make it look bigger. In addition you can also zoom in and out, giving you a greater overview of the action. As soon as you have placed the cards you are guided through a quick tutorial which shows you how to control your players. Like I say, it’s just like Subbeteo, therefore, players are controlled by flicking them into position, before passing the ball using a team mate.

Table Football includes tournaments and quick matches, so if you are looking to play make sure you have plenty of room and no interruptions, such as the dog running over the floor and tearing up your AR cards.

I’d imagine a lot of people will pick out Table Football as a game of choice when it comes to AR, however it isn’t the best and I certainly had more issues with this game than I did in the others mentioned above.

Sony does have plenty of other AR games coming out in the future, so it seems we will be seeing a lot more of these games. Those above provide a mixed bag of an experience, but they are certainly still worth checking out, in not just for the novelty alone.


Edited On 21 Feb, 2012

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