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Hands-On: PlayStation Vita

During this weekend, and up until Tuesday (17th Jan), Sony have rented a shop front in Manchester and are showing of their brand new handheld - the PlayStation Vita - for all to play. I popped in and managed to get a decent play on most of the games in there, as well as getting used to the Vita console itself. 

Console

The Vita itself looks fantastic - all the press photos you may have seen simply don’t do it justice. The shiny black plastic is extremely solid, the face buttons and d-pad are extremely high quality and the screen is simply beautiful. Frankly, the build quality of the PS Vita makes the 3DS feel like a toy. Sony have gone all-out to make the Vita look like a premium product. One aspect I particularly liked was the shoulder buttons - looking from the front they’re clear, but the top side of them is black, they look strange and wonderful at the same time.

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Hands-On: Mario Kart 7 (3DS)

Within the first few seconds of starting a race in Mario Kart 7, it is evident that there is one thing that already sets 7 apart from the previous entries in the Mario Kart franchise: a wonderful sense of speed. I’m not sure if this is due to the impressive 3D effect or if Nintendo have simply just made the game faster. It is also unclear what cc the preview version was set to when I played it. One thing is very clear, though: the speed of the game makes it feel exhilarating. 

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Hands-On: Roogoo Attack

Remember back when you were a toddler and your parents would bring out those cubes (or various other ones shaped like houses, barns or whatever) with holes to stuff colourful shapes into? Remember the joy when you finally got the hang of it and heard everyone in the room clap and cheer? Perhaps not…most of us were probably a bit too young to remember it. Even so, I think that mastering Roogoo Attack! would have a similar feeling to the joy of finally figuring out that a triangle shape fits into a triangle-shaped hole.

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Hands-On: Resident Evil 5

I feel that I should point out that I've only played Resident Evil 4. It's an awesome game that had a great scary atmosphere and the combat suited it perfectly. It was one of the best-looking games of the last generation. The controls were good on the GameCube but massively improved on the Wii version.

Now that the Resident Evil 5 demo is here I have one suggestion to anyone who hasn't yet played RE4: Don't bother with this and get RE4 instead. 

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Hands-On: Left 4 Dead

One mark of a great game is when you can't stop playing, even when you keep failing. Valve's latest shooter, Left 4 Dead, takes this trait and makes it better - it's a different experience each time you try the game.

Left 4 Dead follows four survivors in a city infested with thousands of zombies. The missions are simple (in the demo, anyway): Make your way to the next safe room or die trying. You will team up with 3 other players and/or AI-controlled characters and blast your way through a varying hoard of zombies. It's very simple and at the same time there's a great amount of depth and tactics.

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Hands-On: Mirror's Edge

Mirror's Edge is yet another great looking platformer this year, taking it's own style - first person view. The videos looked smooth, way too smooth. I was very concerned about three things: One, that it would suffer from motion sickness; two, first-person platforming has always been cumbersome, even in the Metroid series, and three, that it would feel too "automatic" like Assassin's Creed was.

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Hands-On: Tomb Raider Underworld

Tomb Raider Legend brought the Tomb Raider gameplay back to standard and made jumping around much smoother and easier. It was a lot of fun, but was a tad short and it was cut up into too many small sections. Anniversary applied the same thing to an old game, but something just didn't feel right about it. Both of these were released on the 360 but they were really last-generation games with slight improvements.

So here's Underworld, the first Tomb Raider built for the 360/PS3. Is it a significant improvement, or is it ruined? Well...read on.

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Hands-On: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

It's the game I've been waiting for since I got my Xbox 360 - the original Banjo-Kazooie is still my favourite game of all time and I loved both Tooie and Gtunty's Revenge (the GBA one). They took what Super Mario 64 invented and then improved upon it in every way. Yesterday the demo of Nuts & Bolts was released and after hours of playing I thought that I should post my thoughts.

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