With just two titles, Mass Effect has quickly propelled itself as my favorite franchise of this generation, and could very well end up as my favorite all-time depending on how much I enjoy Mass Effect 3 in March. There’s no other game universe that I’d rather spend real time in than the detailed sci-fi masterpiece that Bioware has crafted, filled with so many fascinating characters and locales.
I don’t expect Mass Effect 3 to make its way to the Vita, of course. Development is already well underway for release on home consoles, and fitting such a dense title on a portable system where gameplay might be better suited to shorter sessions might not be the best idea.
That all sounds a bit counter-productive, so what’s the plan? Easy: as previously noted, the Mass Effect universe is rich and diverse, and can easily accomadate many stories. While the main console games remain the heart and soul of the franchise, there have been several books and comics that bring some of the characters and events that Commander Shepard has come across into the spotlight. There’s even an a full-length anime film in the works.
With that in mind, a Mass Effect game for Vita that takes into consideration the quirks that present themselves with portable gaming — from battery life to shorter, more easily digested gaming sessions — isn’t that far-fetched. Kojima Productions managed to make two Metal Gear Solid games that stand tall amongst the PSP’s best, a tall task considering series’ notorious cutscenes. And with the Vita’s near-PS3 graphics and second analog stick in tow, playing shooters on the go is no longer a compromised experience, but an enticing one.
When coming up with this list, I wanted to stay away from first-party titles. Barring a historic company takeover, titles such as God of War or Resistance will never see release on any Nintendo system, no matter their capabilities, and the same goes for Mario and Zelda games on a Sony platform. That would make for a dumb list.
However, I couldn’t shake Gran Turismo‘s place here. Despite being far more powerful than a PS1, the PSP was easily the most limiting home that the GT series has ever had. The analog nub was no substitute for a real analog stick, and I found myself using the d-pad to steer instead. Also gone were any other analog inputs, instead offering digital buttons with full-on braking and throttle that killed a lot of the nuance that the series is famous for.
With the Vita, the dual analog sticks make up for all of that. You’d be able to feather the gas, apply the right amount of brake pressure, and be much more precise with your steering. It would also be a chance to correct some of the other issues that GT PSP had, such as a lack of a true career mode and car availability that cycled with each passing day.
Gran Turismo has always been a system-seller, and is currently Sony’s best-selling first-party franchise. I’d like to be optimistic by saying that releasing a GT game earlier in the Vita’s life rather than later would help drive the system’s sales, but we’re talking about Polyphony Digital, a very talented group of people that never deliver on time.