The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play will be hitting stores at the end of this week: 1 April 2011. Fortunately for you, we’ve got our hands on the only mobile phone on the market to carry PlayStation certification and thought we’d have a quick play through some of the games so you know what you’re getting yourself in for, whilst getting on with our review of the new PlayStation phone.
What comes pre-installed?
There are a collection of titles loaded onto the Xperia Play when you lift it out of the box: Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior, FIFA 10, Star Battalion, The Sims 3 and you guessed it, Crash Bandicoot, which comes in all its 1996 PlayStation glory.
Slide the device open and it can be set to instantly launch Xperia Play (the app, pictured above). This is basically where your games live, so you can select a game and get playing using the proper gaming controls. We got in touch with Gameloft and added a number of hot games that they offer, which all dutifully slotted into the Xperia Play app. From the app, you can also switch to a “more games” tab, or click on the Android Market icon, which returns a selection of games for the Xperia Play.
If you didn’t know, there is a selection of 35 (currently) titles on the Android Market that are designated as “Xperia Play optimized”, some you can access on all Android devices, some you can’t, some are free demos, some are full games. We're waiting to get our hands on the first Xperia Play "exclusive", BackStab, which we told you about the other day.
You’ve also got an app called “Get Games”. This is exactly what it sounds like, offering up gaming titles, which are the same as those found in the Xperia Play “more games” section, basically those “optimized” Xperia Play games in Android Market, as well as some extras, like those from Gameloft. Depending on the location of the game, you get taken to the appropriate place to buy your chosen game.
From the off, we found that Crash Bandicoot wasn’t included in the Xperia Play app - it sits in the regular menus unloved. Not totally unloved, of course, because it does appear in the PlayStation Pocket app, which is where things start to look a little more fragmented.
PlayStation Pocket offers a range of retro Sony PlayStation games like Cool Boarders 2, MediEvil and Syphon Filter. Again, click on one of these titles and you head through to Android Market to buy the game, but they aren’t offered through the Xperia Play app.
Android Market, Sony Ericsson PlayNow
Of course, you get the regular run of games on the Android Market too, as well as Sony Ericsson’s PlayNow offering. PlayNow looks expensive compared to other avenues. We downloaded a mobile game (ok, the mobile game, Angry Birds) from Android Market which sat in the menu as normal and didn’t encroach into the Xperia Play app menu. Call us pedantic, but we’d really like all our games in one place, rather than spread out like this.
Now we’ll give you a run down of those pre-installed games.
Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior
You can pretty much guess what to expect from Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior. It’s a straight fighting game where you have to master the moves of Bruce Lee. There are various gaming modes, from story, arcade, timeattack, etc. The basic premise of the game is fighting and whether you are in the story or any other mode, it’s pretty much the same approach.
It’s good fun, and definitely the type of game that lends itself to proper controls, giving you a variety of attacks, strengths of kicks, and so on. You can get some way into the game with button mashing and for the first few rounds you can pretty much strong kick exclusively. We’ve had some laugh out loud moments on Bruce Lee, it’s good fun.
FIFA 10 needs little introduction and if you’re a mobile gamer who likes football, you’ve probably already played it. You get the regular game modes with Classic and Be A Pro options, but we suspect that multiplayer will be a big hit for football fans.
Both touch controls and dedicated button controls are offered, taking advantage of the range of buttons available, including the shoulder buttons around the back for sprinting and calling in another defender for support/skill move. Needless to say, Dean Ashton put it over the bar far too many times, and the sliding tackle saw us down to 10 men in practically every game. The controls take some time to master, especially if you’re not much of a football game fan.
If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then Star Wars should be blushing somewhere. Star Battalion is all about taking control of various space ships and doing battle. The fact you launch off to battle on the Ice Planet of Hoth, sorry, Dunakan, doesn’t help that Star Wars analogy.
The controls exist on screen as well as on the keypad and the tutorial will get you up to speed in no time - you can also enable the accelerometer if you wish, although we found that this made it more difficult to control the aircraft.
The Sims 3
The Sims are everywhere and mobile is no exception. It’s basically a cut down version of The Sims you know and love and the port to a mobile device is impressive - it looks good on the Xperia Play - even if some of the game elements are a little too simple.
It doesn’t really bring anything to the Xperia Play controls however, as control is much easier through the regular touch display. Still, it’s good fun and you can easily waste away a couple of hours doing very little, going to town, serving meals for one and vainly attempting to fulfil various life goals.
You can’t say mobile gaming without saying Tetris. Right back to the Game Boy, Tetris has always been high on our list of must-have games. But this is one of those titles that doesn’t quite fit with the new PlayStation phone - it isn’t Xperia Play optimised.
That means it doesn’t appear in your games menu when you slide the device open. It plays in portrait rather than landscape and the gaming buttons have no effect - you have to use the touch controls on the screen, so it’s perhaps not worth getting too excited about.
Crash Bandicoot is one of the retro ports from the PS One and as we mentioned before, living in the PlayStation Pocket area rather than the Xperia Play app. It’s one of the games that Sony Ericsson is pushing as bringing some of that console magic to your pocket.
You play Crash in this platform classic and we’ve only got through a couple of levels so far, but it’s incredibly playable, despite not being that graphically advanced, even by mobile gaming standards. It’s fun though and simple enough to keep you entertained so you can dive in and get on with it. It also plays completely naturally on the PlayStation gaming buttons - touching the screen does nothing at all.
We’ve given you a quick overview of the games that come by default on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play (in the UK at least) to give you a flavour of what to expect on day 1. These aren't all exclusive titles, in fact if you're into mobile gaming you've probably played most of these games before. Of course, we’ve also been in touch with Gameloft and picked up Asphalt 6: Adrenaline (which will be a free download), 2011 Real Football, Spider-Man: Total Mayhem, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction, Assassin’s Creed and Let’s Golf 2, amongst others, which we’re also giving a good play.
Want to know more? Check out our full Sony Ericsson Xperia Play review here.