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Sony’s last great handheld, the PlayStation Vita remains an iconic device even as it never truly captured the imagination of the video game public at large. Beautiful hardware combined with console-quality software made the Vita a true powerhouse of a handheld well before the Nintendo Switch was ever a thing.

Unfortunately, the Vita’s lifespan was cut short due to a myriad of reasons but not before some excellent games were released for the platform. Among some of the best titles were first-person shooters that fully utilized the hardware and OLED screen to their absolute fullest. 

Let’s get into it!

What is a First-Person Shooter? 

Whether it’s on a portable console or a home console, a first-person shooter remains one of the most popular video game genres.

With gameplay that forces you to only see what your protagonist sees, you don’t have a 360 field of view to watch for enemies. Instead, when your player looks left, you look left, and when you turn your character to look to the right, you only see to the right.

Unlike third-party views in games like Grand Theft Auto V, you have a more limited field of view that offers you little more than the arms and hands of your character. 

Was the PlayStation Vita Known for First-Person Shooters?

While it’s not completely accurate to say that the PlayStation Vita was best known for its first-person shooter titles, they are definitely among the most popular games on the platform. Unfortunately, truly native PlayStation Vita first-person shooter games for the console only numbers in the single digits. And, while titles like Call of Duty and Killzone were big-name releases for the console, not all of these games were reviewed favorably. 

Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified is one of the best-selling titles of the PlayStation Vita era but only managed a 33 on the Metascore scale. That’s good enough to rank as the lowest-rated Call of Duty title in the series. Regardless, had the Vita lived on before its lifecycle was cut short, it’s very likely we would have seen Sony focus on the FPS genre to continue boosting the Vita’s popularity. 

Resistance: Burning Skies - PlayStation Vita
$23.98
  • The first ever touch-screen first person shooter on PlayStation – developed to showcase the functions of PlayStationVita.^A social networking feature that links players and non-players into a vast...
  • The first ever touch-screen First-Person Shooter on PlayStation Handheld - developed to showcase the functions of PlayStation Vita
  • A brand-new hero character, FDNY firefighter Tom Riley
  • A familiar arsenal of weapons from previous Resistance games, plus new weapons like a new Chimeran sniper rifle and a fireman's axe
  • Featuring a frenetic campaign mode
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02/02/2023 06:47 pm GMT

Part of the Resistance video game series, emResistance: Burning Skies/em was released for the PlayStation Vita in 2012.

Within the game itself, your protagonist is Tom Riley who is fighting against the Chimera who have invaded the United States. Fighting to save his family, Tom joins forces with the Minutemen who aid in his fight to find and rescue his family. 

emResistance: Burning Skies/em will deliver just about everything PlayStation Vita owners can want out of a first-person shooter on the console. There’s action for both single-player and multiplayer gameplay plus a storyline that, while not completely unique, is more than just another run-of-the-mill first-person shooter. 

The multiplayer game was, in particular, a major highlight with eight players competing against each other online. Choosing between six different maps and three different game modes, it was easy to get lost and spend hours playing emResistance: Burning Skies/em on the Vita. Well, you could at least play as long as your battery lasted.

Receiving a 60 Metascore from critics, emResistance: Burning Skies/em will never rank as one of the best first-person shooter titles of all time, but the score is more than good enough to make the top ranks on the Vita. 

Pick up a copy of emResistance: Burning Skies/em from Amazon here

Borderlands 2
$38.95
  • The critically acclaimed and bestselling role-playing shooter hybrid is now available on the go!
  • 6 Playable Character Classes - Including Mechromancer and Psycho expansion classes.
  • Cross Save with your PS3 system – Continue your save file on your PS3 system and vice versa.
  • Navigate Menus, maps, and view objects with the front touchscreen and map custom controls to the rear touchpad.
  • Includes 6 Add On Packs.
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02/03/2023 08:56 am GMT

A favorite in the first-person shooter world, emBorderlands 2/em was a very welcome addition to the PlayStation Vita library.

Ported to the Vita by Iron Galaxy Studios and released in May 2014, emBorderlands 2/em takes place around five years after its predecessor and once again takes you back to the planet, Pandora (not, not the same planet from Avatar). In the sequel, you find yourself following Vault Hunters who are allied to the Crimson Raiders and have created a resistance group to defeat the evil dictator. 

As you dive into the game, you must select from one of four character classes, each of which offers its own skill set. Playing through the single-player campaign is wildly fun and offers a different setting and weapon group than had been previously seen on the Vita. Completing the single-player campaign unlocks “True Vault Hunter Mode,” which allows you to replay the campaign again, but this time with mucus-stronger enemies. 

The Vita was released with co-op multiplayer but unlike its home console counterparts which supported up to four players at a time, the Vita can only enable two-player co-op. Managing a 64 Metascore aligns with the 7.7 user score, which raves about the replay value and depth of the title on the Vita platform. 

Grab your copy of emBorderlands 2/em from Amazon right now here

Borderlands 2
Borderlands 2 is pretty much a blast to play.

©Barone Firenze/Shutterstock.com

#2: Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition

Let’s get some! Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition is a game that has managed to live on well beyond its PC origins, and for very good reasons.

It’s a compilation of four Duke Nukem titles (one game, three expansion packs): Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition, Duke It Out in D.C., Duke: Nuclear Winter, and Duke Caribbean: Life’s A Beach. Released in March 2013, the game was available until February 2016 when a combination of developer rights shifts led to the game being pulled from store shelves in favor of future titles. 

Forgetting developer snafus and focusing on the game itself, Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition is every bit as much fun as you remember. The game is decidedly over the top but in the best possible way. Between the original game and its three expansion packs, you’ll find yourself with controls that are mapped well to the PlayStation Vita layout. The game itself renders closely to the PC original, so expect plenty of pixelation but in a historical way. Plus, it comes with all of the guns, ammo, and foul language you expect from a Duke Nukem title. 

Thanks to some nostalgia and overall just fun gameplay, Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition earned a 69 Metascore. 

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02/03/2023 04:13 pm GMT

The best-known and most highly regarded first-person shooter on the PlayStation Vita, emKillzone: Mercenary/em is the second handheld Killzone title in the series.

Earning a 78 Metascore, emKillzone: Mercenary/em was developed by Guerilla Cambridge and released in September 2013. In the game during the single-player campaign, the game picks up immediately after the ending of the original Killzone title and once again has Arran Danner as the protagonist. 

The game itself is made up of nine separate missions which can be played as one of three difficulty levels. As soon as a player completes one of these levels, you earn an additional three chances to replay the level with a different contract each time. The first is a demolition contract, a precision-related objective, or a covert action. 

Additional content would be released in 2014 and 2015 adding not only to the replay value, but also making it possible to play offline multiplayer against bots. Multiplayer itself allows for up to eight players to play one of eight maps and choose from 25 different weapons for use in four different play modes.

Selling more than 750,000 games, emKillzone: Mercenary/em remains one of the best-selling games of the PlayStation VIta era. 

Jump into emKillzone: Mercenary/em on Amazon here

killzone mercenary
Killzone: Mercenary was one of the best-selling games on the Vita.

©Guerrilla Games, Sony Computer Entertainment / public domain – License

Final Thoughts

While the PlayStation Vita doesn’t have a deep library of first-person shooters, what it does offer is really outstanding.

Unfortunately, one of the most anticipated titles with Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified suffers from a variety of difficulties that led to its disappointingly low Metascore.

Had the Vita lived on, there’s a very strong chance we would have seen more FPS titles released, and that would have been good news for Vita owners everywhere.

The 4 Absolute Best PlayStation Vita First-Person Shooters of All Time FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the best first-person shooter on the PlayStation Vita?

Killzone: Mercenary is undoubtedly the best first-person shooter on the PlayStation Vita. Between its outstanding single-player campaign with excellent replayability and multiplayer, it’s a must-own for all Vita owners.

Was the PlayStation Vita a good console for FPS titles?

Yes and no. There are some very good FPS titles but they are very small in number which makes it vastly more difficult to pick up the Vita solely to play this genre of games.

What was the best-selling game for the PlayStation Vita?

Selling more than 1.4 million units globally, Uncharted: Golden Abyss is the top-selling PlayStation Vita game of all time.

What was the PlayStation Vita lifecycle?

The PlayStation Vita was released in North America on February 15, 2012 and was discontinued on March 1, 2019. 

Why were there not more FPS titles for the PlayStation Vita?

There isn’t one particular reason that the PlayStation Vita didn’t get more FPS titles. Part of the reason is likely due to developers concentrating their work on home consoles that had a larger audience and sales volume.

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  • Altar of Gaming Available here: https://altarofgaming.com/best-playstation-vita-shooter-fps-tps-shoot-em-up-games/
  • Reddit Available here: https://www.reddit.com/r/vita/comments/2xc1gg/i_decided_to_make_a_list_of_all_fps_titles_you/
  • Metacritic Available here: https://www.metacritic.com/browse/games/genre/metascore/first-person/vita?view=detailed
  • Pro Fanboy Available here: https://profanboy.com/best-ps-vita-shooter-games/
  • Games Database (image credit) Available here: https://gamesdb.launchbox-app.com/