Plugged In

5 must-have PlayStation Vita launch games

Plugged In

Thinking of getting a PlayStation Vita? It's a pretty slick system, but it won't do you a great deal of good without a great deal of games. And it's got plenty of those — 25, in fact, ready to either purchase at retail or download digitally on the system's February 22 launch date.

But which should you choose? There's something for everybody out there, but consider starting with these five.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss

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The Vita take on Sony's flagship action series might look a lot smaller than its big brothers on the PS3, but make no mistake: Golden Abyss is a full Uncharted game, through and through. That means high-quality visuals, a combination of jaw-clenching platforming and gunplay, and a brand new cinematic story starring a wisecracking Nathan Drake.

But Golden Abyss is more than just that — it's also a great way to learn the ins and outs of the Vita's various control styles. You'll run and gun with the dual analog sticks, shimmy on ledges with the touchscreen and tilt sensors, and clamber up ropes using the rear touch pad.

[Related: PlayStation Vita review]

Wipeout 2048

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While Wipeout doesn't enjoy the broad name recognition of Mario Kart or Gran Turismo, fans of video game racing consider the franchise one of the all-time greats. So it's kind of a big deal that a brand new Wipeout game is part of the Vita's launch lineup. Unsurprisingly, it's another killer racer, offering blazing speed, plenty of weapons, a variety of control schemes and some of the best graphics you'll see on the new handheld system.

Rayman Origins

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No arms, no legs, no problem. It might not be unique to the Vita, but don't let that insignificant fact dissuade you from checking out this spot-on port of the best game you probably didn't play last year. Rayman Origins is pure gaming bliss, a flat-out gorgeous platformer that transitions beautifully to Sony's handheld. You'll sacrifice the drop-in, drop-out multiplayer, but that's a small price to pay for being able to play this great game on the go.

Escape Plan

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If you plan on buying downloadable games with your Vita — and you should definitely plan on it — get off on the right foot with this incredibly stylish game, which tasks twin protagonists Lil and Laarg with escaping from a variety of deadly traps. Mix a bit of Pixar with a ton of outrageous, laugh-out-loud disasters and you wind up with a puzzle game that's as fun as it is fiendish.

Super Stardust Delta

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Maybe you just prefer to shoot stuff. In that case, check out this downloadable twin-stick shooter, which lets you blow up all sorts of things as you zip around planets being bombarded by meteors. At least, that's what you're supposed to do. The meteors -- not to mention the swarms of tricky enemies -- have other plans. Outstanding graphics and tight controls (hooray, dual analog sticks!) coupled with a light $10 price tag makes it an easy launch day buy.

Also consider:

Lumines: Electronic Symphony
A light show in a box! The great Lumines series hits the Vita on day one, packing classic puzzle gameplay driven by an epic techno soundtrack.

FIFA Soccer
It might come in a small package, but this pint-sized take on EA's top-selling soccer franchise features awesome new touch controls and deep, customizable gameplay.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Last year's terrific 2D brawler comes to the Vita in all its glory.  With a huge roster of fighters, solid controls and great looks, it's a launch game worth fighting for.

ModNation Racers: Road Trip
Not only does the Vita version of kart racing great ModNation Racers  mirror the adorable look and feel of its PS3 counterpart, but it boasts even simpler track creation tools thanks to the system's touch screens.

Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
Sony's addictive blend of golf and role-playing putts its way to the Vita. Revolutionary? Not quite, but it's still plenty of fun for virtual duffers.

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