Army Corps of Hell (Square Enix; rated "Mature"; square-enix.com; 2.5 stars out of 4)
In this bloody action-strategy hybrid, you are the former King of Hell determined to regain your reign.
By employing a loyal legion of goblins, you'll ward off various demons — giant worms, gargoyles, floating purple eyeballs, and giant boss fighters — and advance through the depths of hell to accumulate power. Your minions are divided into three types: Soldiers (basic, melee fighters), Spearman (long-range attackers) and Magi (capable of firing magic blasts at targets). You'll also assign formations for each unit type.
There's also a role-playing game (RPG)-like upgrade system where you'll pick up goodies from fallen enemies, upgrade your goblin's weapons and armor, and unlock more alchemy items as you progress throughout the single-player campaign. The game, set to heavy metal music, also offers an ad-hoc multiplayer option for up to four players, for wireless play in the same room.
While the game offers an intriguing concept and starts off with a bang, "Army Corps of Hell" falls short of greatness because of repetitive gameplay, levels that lack variety and graphics that don't take full advantage of the PSVita's capabilities.
Army Corps of Hell for PlayStation Vita.
That said, fans of micromanagement-focused action games like Nintendo's "Pikmin" might consider picking up this "Mature"-rated PSVita title — but wait until the cost of the cartridge comes down.
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance (Ubisoft; rated "Teen"; ubisoft.com; 2.0 stars out of 4)
As with the downloadable PlayStation Network (PSN) game of the same name, "Dungeon Hunter: Alliance" is an action-heavy RPG with a strong multiplayer component.
Whether playing alone or with up to three friends online, this is a hack-and-slash adventure that pits you against many thousands of creatures in the world of Gothicus. Your goal is to push back against a malevolent queen who sends her evil minions to do her bidding. Along with the main quest that takes you through 30 levels, you can accept a number of side missions to increase your skill and collect more loot (used to upgrade your weapon and armor).
While this is a port of a PSN game, controls are designed to take advantage of the PSVita, including use of the touchscreen, back touch panel, accelerometer and gyroscope.
"Dungeon Hunter: Alliance" is a decent action-focused RPG like the popular "Diablo" or "Torchlight" series — and the multiplayer is quite fun — but the experience is marred by less-than-smart artificial intelligence, enemies that can disappear behind objects and a choppy frame rate (the game slows down when there's a lot of onscreen action).
Between these technical issues and its steep $40 price tag (for what you get), it's hard to endorse the game as is. Perhaps a downloadable update will address many of these issues. And let's hope the price will soon drop to a more reasonable $13, the price of the PSN version.