Whilst the use of Augmented Reality (AR) cards kind of voids the portable ideals of handheld consoles, the ability to place fantastical images into the real world via the Vitas camera is a fun one. Though a great showcase for what is possible with the Vita and its AR system, the main problem is that there are not too many games around for us to utilize those little plastic cards we packed away after the first week of the Vita release; so the first real challenge is remembering where you put your cards all those months ago.
In pulzAR, the world is in threat from five huge asteroids, all large enough to completely destroy the planet. Lucky for us we have a missile system in place that can blow them out of the sky, unfortunately in order to launch said missiles an elaborate set up of lasers are required to power the launch.
The goal is quite simple in pulzAR, change the direction of the lasers which will then power the missile silo by placing AR cards which act as mirrors and then manoeuvring them to bounce the lasers around. Though the first few levels are straight forward, the difficulty really increases dramatically with the inclusion of different coloured lasers and power cells that require filters to be added to them, splitting beams from one into two lasers and of course the ever impending doom of the meteor hovering over your head.
Since pulzAR requires all six AR cards at some point in the game a large play space is required in front of the camera, with each mission starting with laying AR card 1 which will then set up the level, placing the missile silo, reflectors and laser beams on the ground. You can then pan around the area by moving the camera or if lazy like myself, just turn the AR card to get the best view. Through the Vita screen you can see earth’s defences magically appear on your desk, with you moving the camera skyward to view the ominous space rock slowly bearing down to earth.
The real time manipulation of the lasers using the AR cards and directional stick never gets boring, with the game adding extra challenges in the numerous star tokens that are dotted around the area to collect and progress through the game, requiring some seriously quick thinking to get them all. With multiple cards to move about, the Vita handles movement of the screen relatively well, with only an occasional “lock lost” spoiling the action, plus at times it can get fiddly, with shaky hands not keeping the lasers aligned long enough for the missile to gain enough power.
pulzAR is a fun, if a little short lived PSN game that, at such a low cost, is well worth your time.
Rating: Excellent Review Policy (version tested: PS Vita/PSN)