Have you ever played a game that even after a couple hours you still have no real idea as to what is going on. Ecolibrium is one such game, having a go at the early release last night I found myself going through the motions, pressing buttons, placing things and thinking ohh how nice looking this game is, only later catching myself thinking, what the hell am I doing and questioning the enjoyment level of this game.
The main problem is that Near on the Vita is probably a little over complicated and the same can be said for the game itself. Where Nintendo have the street pass which is very simple and effective, hosting mini games that are simple and fun, Ecolibrium is the opposite.
You are charged with creating life on an alien planet, playing god and using your lab to clone creatures and plants to build the perfect balanced ecosystem. Inside the lab you have a large selection of animals, plants and artefacts to clone and create, with each purchase then taking you to the planets surface to place them where you see fit. Once planet side the gyro controlled camera grants you a full 360 vista of what's around you (can change to joystick control), tapping on the inhabitants and plants to see what effects they have on the world.
Each Item that you place in your world will have a direct effect to the ecosystem, animals will need food and minerals or a moisture heavy enviroment so planting trees and flowers will be commonplace and with more animals you will need a hierarchy, introducing predators to the fold who then hunt the more docile creatures.
The Vita's more unique features are used to full effect here with the GPS inviting you to walk around the streets at night hunting for new animals, swapping animals and items sing Near and also using an Auction House to trade rare items online.
Your lab, whilst extremely high tech requires power, with every creation taking up a large slice; once you are out you then need to wait for it to recharge in real world time.
Aside from making sure your own world is well looked after there are also Challenges that appear, both local and online, that will award some extra points to spend in your lab. Not much is available at the moment other than a day challenge to create a 98% balanced ecosystem.
Whilst free to download it seems Sony are testing the waters with pay to play market, giving you the basics that dribble content to you, ideal for short bursts of play, but to give it a good gaming session you will need to constantly reharge your labs power, requiring you to cough up some dough on the PlayStation Store to grab some item packs which will grant various rare animals and items depending on how much you spend.
To get the most of Ecolibrium you will need a Vita with 3G, as already I have noticed that the game needs to connect to the PlayStation Network to start playing, rendering WiFi Vita's useless if away from a hotspot.
When all is said, Ecolibrium is free and with more time may offer some more enjoyment, it all depends on who else will put time and effort into creating and keeping their own world.
Words by Ash Buchanan.
Review Policy (Version tested: PS Vita)