Sine Mora PS Vita: exclusive hands-on
So, Sine Mora is coming to PS Vita. Anyone who played the game on XBLA knows what good news this is and – having been lucky enough to get the first hands-on with the game in handheld form – we can confirm that nothing has been lost in the translation. The gorgeous visuals absolutely pop on the machine’s OLED screen, and the “HOW THE **** AM I GOING TO DODGE THAT?!” gameplay is as manic, crazy, and compulsive as ever.
For those uninitiated in Sine Mora, it’s a shoot-‘em-up co-developed by Digital Reality and Suda51’s (the man behind Killer7, No More Heroes) Grasshopper Manufacture. And it is, as if we really need to say it, bonkers. The story is one of time-traveling, genocide, resistance fighters, and a whole heap of stuff we don’t want to spoil for you here. But the gameplay is quintessential shmup fare with some modern touches that blast it right towards the top of the class.
The first thing you notice – unless you’re experimenting with closed-eyes gaming – is the graphics, which are a step up from other games in the genre. While the left-to-right action plays out on the classic 2D plane (if you’ll forgive the excellent pun), the backgrounds are beautifully animated 2.5D affairs. Oceans, lush mountainsides, caves full of deadly giganto-worms – all of the settings for your manic gun-and-run action are grand and glorious.
Locating you firmly in the midst of these – rather than a simple aeroplane-shaped overlay atop them – is some nifty camera work. Sweeping shots will take you around corners onto another plane, you’ll swing around to the other side of the game’s enormous bosses, or you’ll be zoomed in as you dive beneath water and watch as your craft turns into an impromptu submarine. It’s cinematic in a way that shoot-‘em-ups seldom are, and it all adds to the scale and spectacle.
And that spectacle is all about huge quantities of coloured blobs filling your Vita’s screen. Holding X (almost permanently) to fire your primary weapon, your main concern alongside making all the bad stuff blow up and go away is dodging the incessant barrage of blue-and-red nastiness that’s being sent your way. But rather than simply relying on the – admittedly effective – addictiveness of that interplay, Sine Mora has some nifty tricks up its sleeve.
Firstly, the game is all about time. Missions are run against the clock, with a timer at the top of your screen counting you down. Once it reaches zero, you’re dead. Damaging enemies adds time to your clock, taking damage subtracts it. So you really need to try to avoid taking that damage…and from stopping to stare at the pretty scenery. Secondly, you can (to some extent) control time. As long as you’ve got some juice in your meter, holding R causes everything but you to slow down. This means that you can dodge bullets, cause some crucial damage, or nip around the screen to collect some power-ups.