I am a proud resident of Vita Island. I have stuck by this little handheld that could even as the industry turns its back on it. While we may never see a triple ‘A’ game on the Vita again, it’s become home to a wide range of indie games that’s helped keep the Vita alive. While Wanted Corp may not be the greatest game the platform has to offer, its strong enough to remind you why you should hold on to that little handheld of yours. It’s a game, that while frustrating at times, is a fun and well-made game that offers a challenge and gives you the options to play your way.
Wanted Corp has a simple, if not unimaginative, concept. You find yourself playing as two bounty hunters who find themselves caught up in a seemingly impossible task; arrest all the escaped prisoners who crash landed on the planet. Naturally, like any good bounty hunter, it’s completely up to you if you want to fulfill your task of arresting the fugitives or if you want to do what we do best in video games, kill them all! Played as a top down shooter, you will be travelling the planet either arresting/killing your enemies all the while trying to rack up a score combo. Arresting your enemies will grant you a higher score then killing, and arresting multiple enemies/creatures in rapid succession will earn you an even bigger score. Your ultimate goal is to stop the two faction leaders in charge of the escaped prisoners. As mentioned earlier you are playing as two bounty hunters, swapping insults and jokes as you progress through the level. Some of the dialogue comes across as cheesy at times, but for the most part it’s funny, even if it’s slightly silly. At any point throughout the level you can switch who you are playing as. Maddogg is more weapon focused, switching between a range of weapons will help you take on anything the game can throw at you, with each weapon having a capture mode if you want to play without killing. Irina is more power based, using her capture ring and lightning to fight her way through the levels. They both can do things the others can’t so switching between the two actually feels fluid and useful instead of a feature forced on you for the sake of it just to give you the illusion of dynamic gameplay.
As you progress, levels become more challenging. You will find yourself facing off against waves of enemies or trying to carry an item as you’re bombarded from all sides. The game is not ridiculously difficult, but enough to cause a sweat or two to roll down your forehead. It can be jarring at first, there is not a slow increase in difficulty, and instead I personally feel it jumps to a more challenging difficulty rather quickly. However the game benefits from this to an extent. While games should have a steady increase in difficulty, when Wanted Corp is at its hardest is when the game is at its best. Switching between characters mid combat is fun, certain enemies are easier to take down depending on the character you’re playing as. The game truly had my attention when it was throwing multiple enemy types at me that required some quick reflexes and character switching. Unfortunately this mechanic is slightly let down by its UI (user interface). I actually really like the majority of the UI, I will go into greater detail later, but the button to switch characters is slightly too small. I’m not too sure why it’s not just mapped to a button or the touch pad at the back. It’s not horrendous, for the most part you will hit the button without an issue, but the moment you don’t can be frustrating. You might accidentally hit the heal button instead, which causes your character to stop and become useless as they recover. The rest of the UI however is extremely sleek and well designed. It matches the theme perfectly and in particular I enjoyed the information that appears when you encounter a new enemy for the first time. UI often does not get enough credit in games, when it’s good no one really says anything, but when it’s bad everyone is quick to judge. Wanted Corp, for the most part, certainly deserves praise for their UI.
Wanted Corp features some common mechanics that you might expect to see in a game like this. You will find some boss fights, some interaction with the world and vehicles to help you overcome obstacles. Searching the level hard enough will also reward you with cash bonuses to use in the store, or you may find archives that provides you with little snippets of information. None of this is ground breaking, but it doesn’t need to be. The mechanics work well and feel natural. The art direction is pretty solid for a Vita game. The Vita has never had the best graphics, but the developers have made the world feel alive and realistic. Well as realistic as an alien planet can be. There are some nice little touches that remind you this is a living breathing world, so keep an eye out for them. The enemy design is varied and interesting. Most of the enemy types act and look different from each other. However none of them particularly look like they have just escaped from a prison. Maybe they went clothes shopping before our heroic bounty hunters arrived?
From a technical standpoint, the game runs really well. No chugging or framerate issues, and while the loading is slightly longer than most gamers may be used to, you have to remember this is running on a handheld. You have to cut the developers some slack here. I wish the game had more checkpoints though. When both characters die, and you can’t afford to revive them, you get teleported back to the last checkpoint and I felt they were too few and far between. For a challenging game such as this one, regular checkpoints can help keep a player from losing their temper and refusing to keep trying. I don’t think they are so bad here it would stop someone from wanting to play the game for good, but it is a little too close to the mark for my liking. As briefly mentioned earlier, there’s a store to upgrade both the characters themselves and their weapons/abilities. The game does a bad job of reminding you of this. It can be found in the menu before you load up the story, but after that it’s pretty easy to forget it exists. Maybe it’s just me, but without the game prompting me and no indication in the levels, I played half the game before I remembered I had money to spend. A few more prompts or an in level store would help to remedy the issue.
Wanted Corp is a strong game, both as a Vita title and from a gameplay perspective. Sure it has its issues, the levels themselves are slightly repetitive, but its enjoyable and filled with strong mechanics. It’s a challenging game that allows you to play as you want, you won’t be judged for choosing to be a cold-blooded killer over a law-abiding bounty hunter. It’s a fun little game to sit down with and spend 20 or so minutes completing a level, trying to achieve the highest score possible. As mentioned earlier, its games like this that help keep the Vita alive. We need strong games like this. This review isn’t a rally cry to support this game to help the Vita, but it needs to be stressed when there’s an actual good game to play available. Especially considering how much rubbish is currently on the PlayStation store.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation Vita code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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