Review: PlayStation Vita
At last, Sony’s uber handheld has made its way over to these shores. Amidst competition from smart phones, tablets and the 3DS, how does the PlayStation Vita fair in this increasingly overcrowded market?
Let’s get one thing out the way from the outset; the Vita does look just like the PSP. As soon as I slipped the hand-held from it’s protective covering I was greeted with a little disappointment. I wanted to see something a little different, not just a rehash of an old design.
Thankfully though, this lasted mere seconds as the variable feast of changes Sony has made become apparent. The unbelievable lightness, the huge OLED screen, which is the size of the PSP go in its entirety. And that’s not all: the d-pad, unlike the Duel Shock is now one solid piece of plastic making shoddy diagonal preses a thing of the past, the handgrips on the back, framing the new rear touch pad and, most importantly, a second analogue stick, all add up to make this one hell of a hand-held console.
Once powered up, the screen dazzles you with its size and crisp colours. Thankfully the screen is multi-touch, making it 100 times better (scientific calculation) than the touch screen found on the 3DS. It’s also a pleasure to use with each touch registering immediately whether swiping, scrolling or tapping. Surprisingly the virtual keyboard is also breeze to use. Composing messages to your friends is a doodle and takes no time at all. The same can be said for the rear touch pad: super sensitive and picks up the smallest of touches. Although at first it’s hard to tell where your finger is placed – making for some school boy errors in time sensitive tutorials – you soon adapt. The rear touch is shiny though, meaning if you have greasy fingers, you’ll suffer that horrible sticky problem that’s the bane of touch screens. The only draw back I could find in the new design are the positions of the Start and Select buttons. They are tucked away under the right analogue stick, meaning some dexterous thumb buckling is needed to press them.
But what hand-held is worth it’s salt without built in software? The OS, although a pleasure to use, is not such a treat for the eyes. Those icon discs are awful, I know the Cross Media Bar was sterile, but it worked and looked good, hopefully a software update in the future will sort that out. Things aren’t helped however by the lack of in built software. Disappointingly the PS Vita is a bit stingy on this side. When you power up the machine you get your basics such as videos, photos, music settings and other functions familiar to PS3/PSP owners. Other than that it’s a little bit sparse. You do get the Welcome Park Software, which is serves as just a tutorial for the Vita’s functions rather than a game. You also get six AR cards, which show off the machines Augmented Reality features. Although it’s pretty good, I think the 3DS version trumps the Vita’s. Partly because to use the PlayStation versions, you have to down load separate software rather than just point the camera at the card.
Other software of interest is Near, Sony’s answer to SpotPass, a function that lets you swap gaming gifts with other players, find gamers nearby or simply leave a little treat somewhere for someone to pick up. It looks quite basic, but don’t be fooled – even a gaming guru like myself had trouble getting to grips with how it all works at first.
The last peace of software of note is the PSN Store. Just like it’s PS3 big brother, you can access full Vita games, Demo, PSP games, videos, music and so on. It all looks appetizing, but don’t get too excited. If you want to download any of the software, free or not, you’ll need to invest in a memory card.
This is another disappointment. In the box you simply get the Vita, AR Cards and a power adapter. No memory cards at all, and with a decent size one costing around £40 it’s shame Sony couldn’t have put a little something in there to help you get started. I mean, there isn’t much software bundled so you’ll want to download something right? Thankfully some retail games (do your research first) can save data onto the game card meaning if you’re gaming, you’re good to go.
Of course the all important thing, how does it fair when playing games? The PS Vita has the biggest launch line up of any console. Sure, they’re not all good, but there are some greats out there, and playing them on the Vita is a real pleasure. Having two analogue sticks is simply a treat. Controlling the stunning looking Nathan Drake in Uncharted: Golden Abyss is simply divine. If you’re used to the touch screen controls or the simple one circle pad of the 3DS then you will cry with delight once you get your thumbs on those two sticks. They do feel a little flimsy – I keep thinking that they might break with over use – but I can safely say that after over using them, they are fine. The buttons, although not pressure sensitive, work well, and have a satisfying click. They may be a bit on the small side, and perhaps a bit too close to the thumb stick, but that’s a minor gripe. The shoulder buttons however don’t seem to have the same quality. Again, no longer pressure sensitive, and you have to press them quite hard to get the desired action. But overall, when it comes to playing games on the Vita it’s something wonderful. The large screen and twin sticks makes you feel like you’re playing a full console game with the full console experience rather than a cut down version of your favourite game. Add in the best bits of touch controls and you can’t go wrong. Sony has basically made a Dual Shock pad but put a great big screen in it. Excellent.
A lot has been said about the cost. Sure, it’s not cheap – £220 for the WiFi only model is not to be sniffed at. Plus add in £40 for a card and £35 for a game and you’re looking at around £300 for the lot, though if you shop around you can find some good deals. But saying that, this whole package is still cheaper than the iPhone, which a lot of people are comparing it to. Simply put the iPhone is a phone that can churn out casual games while the Vita is dedicated games machine.
Overall. Sony has released a great hand-held gaming device, separating itself from the smartphones and the 3DS with it’s twin sticks, rear touch pad and technical power. It’s a serious gaming device for serious gamers. Graphically, there is nothing else like it on the market. Not quite as good as the PS3, I would say it’s a PS 2.75, although at times it is hard to tell. Over time, as developers get to grips with the machine, they can only look better. Look out for the awesome remote play feature, a function that allows you (once implemented by developers) to play your PS3 games on your Vita, so when the TV is being used, you’re still good to go for gaming. A small kick in the teeth for the Wii U.
I also think the Vita is future proof. Having the twin sticks, and the touch screen, there is every chance that the Vita could be the new controller for the PS4 when it’s finally released. Sony has simply got things right first time. Where as the 3DS needs an add on for dual stick fun, and the iPhone needs a suction thing (technical term) that is meant to replicate a joystick. Despite the misgivings over cost, Sony has delivered a console that has it all the from the get go.★★★★★★★★★★
You Might Also Like:
Popular This Week
|Ratchet And Clank HD Collection Spotted: Ah Amazon, I should employ you as our go to guys for ne...|
|[UPDATE]Terraria Mod Collection: Re-build classic game worlds, find your way out of the ...|
|GIRP, The Rage Inducing Flash Game Spawned of QWOP: QWOP, it's a name that strikes fear into the hearts of ...|
|GTA V: No San Fierro, No Las Venturas: Rockstar announcement says it's Los Santos only. Sor...|
|Operating Systems: A small history.: Because you were crying out for it, here's a small arti...|
|Space Invaders Case For iPad: Taito Corporation, a dedicated company for iPad accesso...|