When it comes to consoles I have always been a Sony fan boy, from the first Playstation to the PSP I have bought each console on or near their release date and have been amazed by each one in it’s own way.
The Playstation Vita was a hard one, it is by far the most expensive handheld I have ever bought and the 2nd most expensive console overall (the Playstation 3 being the first)…and it is hard justifying (to say, a wife) spending roughly $500 on something this small…but then you get it in your hands and it all makes sense.
I first saw this device in E3 videos from last year and the graphics looked unbelievable, but I wasn’t sure how the touchscreen and touchpad on the rear of the device would be useful…and to be honest, I am still having trouble using them, they are awkward to reach and in the heat of a game it is quite easy to drop the device while reaching for them. The battery life is also not that impressive with 3-5 hours of life (this could be fixed by a battery accessory). these are really my only complaints with the console itself.
Being Sony, they have developed their own proprietary memory cards and game cartridges (they say to prevent piracy), which I wouldn’t mind, except that the price of the memory card is more than double the price of a standard SD card of the same capacity.
The Console – Feels amazing, very high quality and sturdy, the d-pad is very responsive and although small the dual-analogue sticks are very easy to use. The touchscreen is particularly bad at picking up fingerprints, but the touch works very well and the rear touchpad takes a bit of getting used to, although it works well. The front and rear cameras are terrible (not that you would actually take proper photos with it) at only 0.3 megapixels each. The unit also has Wi-Fi, Built in GPS, Optional 3G, Bluetooth and the standard Playstation buttons and shoulder bumpers.
The Games – They are hit and miss – Uncharted is easily the best handheld game I have ever played, being just as good as the PS3 version, but Ridge Racer is a hollowed out shell of a game, with only 5 cars and 3 tracks, with the option (as of February 2012) to purchase one additional track for the hefty sum of $4.25 and one additional car for $2.45….oh and if you want to play some of these games online, you need to buy a pass, which in the case of wipeout 2048 is $15.95…if these publishers are going to continue to ask for up to $70 a game and then additional purchases for features which should be a standard inclusion, the console will sell poorly (until it is inevitably hacked).
Other Features – The unit has also supports apps which can be downloaded from the PS Vita store…these are quite nice to use with the usual suspects – Twitter, Facebook and Skype being present, I am sure more are on the way. One of the features I am most excited about is remote play meaning you will be able to stream games straight from a PS3 to the Vita to use as an external screen and controller, although there are only a handful of games that support it at the moment.
Verdict – If you can justify spending a small fortune on gaming, the Vita is definitly worth it, the graphics and gameplay provide a handheld experience like nothing before and as long as developers support it, there should be some amazing games on the horizon.
*Image from thetechlabs