Will the Vita breathe new life into handheld gaming? A review of the PS Vita by @DreddedDeuce

Out of the box

Sony did a good job at giving you a lot of useful items in the 1st edition bundle. You get of course the Vita itself, a very nice carrying case, power adapter, memory card and a pack in game. I was slightly disappointed in the fact that Sony didn’t include something a little more beefy game wise like Wipeout or even swung for the fences with Uncharted as the pack in. The PS Vita at first glance looks just like its predecessor and it took me awhile to figure out that all of the buttons and switches have been moved. It doesn’t feel heavier than the original PSP but at the same time it doesn’t feel plastic like and cheap. This system isn’t for the casual Angry Birds or Plants vs Zombies player.

I was impressed that upon startup, there was at least a good ¾ charge to get you off and running.

Set Up

Despite some negative reviews that claims that it took forever to get setup, I only took 15 minutes to get up and running and although I got caught in a snag trying to log in to my PSN account, I found that if you go thru the trial period, the Vita will allow you to finish the set up and then you can go back into the settings and put your PSN info in. I had no problems connecting the Vita with my home network and since I have no plans on using AT&T, I had no problems hooking the Vita up to my mifi device. The touchscreen is very responsive and the screen itself is bright, thus far, I have had no problems at all jumping right in. Near is setup and could prove useful as well as Google maps although it won’t replace your GPS. Netflix isn’t available yet but from what I hear, it will be out next week at launch. However Sony’s video rental service is already up and running should you want to get some movies on the go.

Playstation store

Going into the store, I noted that it’s sectioned off for Vita games only, PSP games and PSP minis. If you aren’t all that crazy about the launch lineups or want some older games, they are all there for you. My only concern however is that 1. There were hardly any FPSes in the store. Games like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty weren’t in the store on the Vita side. 2. Some games like God of War: Ghost of Sparta were still full priced at 30 bucks. I am hoping that as time goes on, Sony starts to cut prices for their PSP games especially if they are asking consumers to spend that same amount on PS Vita titles.

Portability

Me not being one of those people that feels like I have to have the Vita in my pocket had no problem throwing it in the protective case and then in my bag that I take to work. I was slightly concerned that the carry case didn’t have enough room to fit the charging cable. But everything else fit neatly into the bag.

Quick tidbit of the games

Ultimate Marvel v Capcom 3 – Very nice graphics and a ton of action to keep you busy. You have a variety of control literally at your finger tips. While you can use the touch screen, it does tend to take some of the fun of watching what’s going on in the game because you can’t see it all. Purists will no doubt not like the controls because the touch screen may be too ‘easy’. But for any player that wants a nice fighting game, it does boast a nice roster and plenty of unlockables.

FIFA Soccer – Almost identical to its console brother, FIFA has a ton of features in it for it to come out of the gates as one of the best mobile sports launches in awhile. Some may be disappointed by the absence of the Ultimate Team mode, and others may not be excited about the touchscreen passing, but the rear touch shooting makes up for that. Occasionally there is a dip in framerate but as far as game play itself, it’s almost as slick as the consoles. The commentating is still there, as well as the likenesses of players. Now it’s time to see what happens come baseball and football season.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss

This game is the reason why people will want to get the Vista. Graphically, it shows off what the Vita can do and it does feel right for this system. It has nice tutorials that really show you how to use the touchscreen and so far it really feels like a nice adventure game that was sorely lacking on the PSP. Does anyone remember when years ago, an Indiana Jones game was supposed to come out and then we got that sloppy game for the PSP? This makes up for it.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta

This is a good way to see how PSP games hold up on the Vita. A little secret; If you hold your finger on the touch screen you will get a few extra options to help upscale the game to Vita standards. Insome instances, it still looks like a PSP game but it’s a little more smoothed out and the colors are a bit brighter. It’s a 2 year old game that has held up well and will likely tide you over until a Vita version is announced.

So far, this system has made for a nice launch, but I do have a few concerns:

1. No HDMI out port. Almost all phones and mobile devices have some kind of port to allow you to hook your device to your HDTV and it’s kind of sad to see this not included in the first iteration. Maybe in future releases it may be but my guess is that Sony didn’t want a system that could potentially compete with the PS3.

2. No remote play – At least not yet, but hopefully Sony will push that feature on this system this time around and give us something that will allow you to play your PS3 games remotely. There are rumored hacks out that already supposedly allow this.

3. Memory card price and Battery Life – It’s not enough that Sony is doing proprietary cards but what they charge is a bit high considering just how much memory stick have come down in price since the original PSP launched. As far as the battery life is concerned, with the little bit of time that it’s supposed to last, I am considering making a purchase of another so I can at least have one at home and one to have on me just in case.

4. System price point – Sony is really testing the waters with this price point and looking at what happened with Nintendo’s 3DS price drop last year, one can only speculate if the same will happen with the Vita if it goes through the same sales failure that it’s suffering through in Japan. I would advise that anyone getting it, hold on to your receipts and be prepared come July.

I don’t think Sony will fail in this country selling Vitas it’s just a matter of what other games they can put out that will sustain it between now and the holidays. It’s a good system coming out of the box but with a prohibitive cost on the system and peripherals, some people may not immediately jump on board with the Vita so eagerly. Also, it does have a battle on its hands with casual gaming and items like the iPad and Kindle which does more than just gaming. However with a few of the launch titles looking and playing as good as they do coming out the gate, as well as some of the social apps that will be coming upon full release, it may be hard to resist passing on the Vita.

Score 8/10

@DreddedDeuce

 

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