The PlayStation Vita is the latest system released under Sony’s PlayStation brand. The console (recently released in Japan) is said to revolutionize the way games are played and also bring a sense of home console qualities in the palm of the player’s hands and to some extent, it meets those expectations.
The Look and feel
Straight out of the box, the console’s exterior is glorious and sports a glossy “Crystal Black” faceplate with a classic, sexy matte silver trim. The thumb-sticks as well as the huge 5 inch OLED touchscreen are the real eye-catchers of the system. Another thing to consider are the changes to the button layout, some of which has affected the size of some of the buttons – Which will annoy a lot of people. Despite this, the button layout and thumb-sticks simply stand out and make this system look like it was made for games and entertainment.
The device is beautifully constructed both inside and out. Layer upon layer, the design shows consistent quality. The densely packed interior actually seems a lot cleaner, more organized and generally stunning as opposed to other handhelds like the PSP and 3DS.
The PlayStation Vita does pack a hefty punch in terms of power and offers an ARM Cortex-A9 quad-core CPU clocked at 2GHz, as well as a 4-core GPU and 512mb of RAM. Aside from this, the console sports a unique and innovative rear touchpad, a 4-point Gyro-sensor, two 2 Mega-pixel cameras (one front-facing and one rear-facing) and the 5 inch OLED screen (mentioned previously). This along with the dual thumb-sticks makes this system probably the most interactive gaming console we’ve seen since the Nintendo Wii.
The OLED screen has a non-HD resolution of 960 x 544 (double the PSP resolution) which I was disappointed about but despite that, the display and graphics still look phenomenal. The screen does supports multi-touch to some extent but we’ve only been able to try out pinch-to-zoom, however; in-game the rear touchpad does, so it’s not a complete loss.
The Wi-Fi model weighs in at 260g and the 3G model weighs in at 279g. This is surprisingly light, considering the size of the device; it’s only about half an inch bigger in both width and length than the PSP slim.
Introducing Home Screen and LiveArea
Sometimes, the most fundamental part of a device is the operating system and software, so we’ll talk about the OS first. Home screen is the core of Sony’s new OS and allows users to access multiple features with a slide or a tap of a finger and quite frankly, it’s a little short of phenomenal.
The inability to optionally use physical buttons on the entire interface is a little disappointing, but there isn’t a need to; the system is super-responsive and generally practical to use. Even if users are having problems, the “Welcome Park” application comes in handy and offers great mini-games to help users get used to the Vita features.
Aside from this, LiveArea works alongside the Home Screen and does justice by also taking into account the live applications running in the background such as: Trophies, Photos and much more. This means that when you’re in a game, you can access or “kill” these tabbed pages by pressing the “PS” button without a loss in battery or performance – This only works with some applications though. Both ways, this OS performs the best multi-tasking I have seen in a console to-date and this was probably the feature which stood out the most.
Another great feature is the addition of party chat. Party chat allows multiple players to chat simultaneously which is something the PS3 lacked and something that this includes which should make the online gaming experience a lot more enjoyable.
Trophies return with a new display and a brand new look. Users also have the option of accessing other trophy information from their PlayStation Network account.
Twitter, Skype and Facebook integration will be available at launch or around that time as it is in Japan, which is good for any gamer on the move. Trophy to Facebook support still works in exactly the same manner as it does on the PS3 – Just enable it in account settings, sync from your trophy page and it’ll post the trophies obtained to Facebook every time you sync.
The browser as always is an awful attempt at delivering a solid browsing experience for users. It’s a little fidgety but at the same time, it’s pretty quick once users get the hang of it. Then again, in the 6 years since the PSP’s launch, it still amazes me why PlayStation hasn’t made or outsourced for a far decent browser. There’s nothing innovative included in the browser, but the touchscreen keys make typing a hell of a lot easier than the PSP and PS3.
The Battery life
I was pleasantly surprised with the battery life, but this isn’t a case for others. The device can run up to five hours from 50-100% brightness with Wi-Fi turned on during this session and that’s not including sleep mode times. I should imagine getting an extra hour or two more with brightness and Wi-Fi off. Then again, the battery life was really put to the test because of Uncharted: Golden Abyss, which does seem to squeeze the juice out of my battery a little more. From this, I realized battery life was completely down to the games you play and how long for, so if you’re playing anything less hardware demanding than Uncharted, then your battery should be a little better.
It’s still disappointing to see no external battery. This means there won’t be an improved battery like what we saw with the PSP but more an ugly, chunky add-on for this gorgeous device.
Nevertheless, it will take around 2 hours and 40 minutes to charge an empty battery so that isn’t too bad.
In my opinion, I didn’t like the Vita launch titles but Japanese fans would, and that is understandable at the launch so I’m not faulting or basing any review points on that. Instead, I’ll discuss the launch line-up for the US and EU. Below is a list of games to be expected at launch:
SCE Launch Day Titles
Escape Plan (PSN Only)
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
Hustle Kings (PSN Only)
ModNation Racers: Road Trip
Super StarDust Delta (PSN only)
UNCHARTED: Golden Abyss
Launch SCE Window Titles
MLB 12 The Show
Third Party Publisher Launch Day Titles
Army Corps of Hell
BEN10 GALACTIC RACING
Blazblue: Continuum Shift EXTEND
Dungeon Hunter Alliance
Dynasty Warriors Next
EA SPORTS FIFA Soccer
Lumines Electronic Symphony
Michael Jackson The Experience
Plants vs. Zombies (PSN Only)
Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen
Tales of Space: Mutant Blobs (PSN Only)
Touch My Katamari
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition
Third Party Launch Window Titles
LEGO® Harry Potter: Years 5-7
Disgaea 3:Absence of Detention
NINJA GAIDEN Sigma PLUS
Silent Hill Book of Memories
Supremacy MMA: Unrestricted
So there you have it; a solid mixture or great launch titles which easily beat most of the 3DS launch titles from early on this year.
Most, if not all these games will also be available both as physical Vita cartridges and digital download from PSN, which is a push in the right direction for gamers who like digitally owning games. It would seem that Sony has really thought-out the content and availability of its games and this makes me quite happy to know that I have access to exactly the same software as retailers do.
The PlayStation Vita has more pro’s than cons and for all the technical aspects, the Wi-Fi model is worth the $250 retail price. Even if you’d prefer the 3G model, it’s still worth the $300. But personally, I choose to tether Wi-Fi from my two Android Devices. However, something to consider is that the 3G model has GPS and exclusive games, which won’t be too much of an important factor, regardless.
This console will make the most button-bashing gamers enjoy motion controls and appreciate the concept at the same time. It is games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss that really make the Vita stand out from the handheld consoles and tablet divisions.
Sure, the browser sucks, the buttons are a little small and the 5 inch OLED screen doesn’t support multi-touch but those things are minor when you consider the sheer aspect of how this system runs both in and out of game.
Regardless of performance, I’m still completely annoyed with the lack of an external battery but that was probably due to the lack of space due to the rear touchpad. Maybe it was eliminated for security measures as a result of battery exploitation from the PSP? Who knows? The memory pricing is ridiculous and I can’t help feel that Sony did this deliberately. For one, the card looks an awful lot like the now-redundant M2 Memory sticks. However, Sony promises to bundle a 4GB Memory stick with its shiny new console providing consumers pre-order it from local retailers.
Another bad point is the fact that these memory cards can only hold one PSN account. This means that sharing the console with family member isn’t as practical as it is for the PS3.
In all, Sony has managed to deliver in what I would call their most enjoyable system yet. This console has no real gimmicks, it is just relevant to this day and age and offers ground-breaking games and software that we have naturally come to expect from developers. This is a must buy and I for one, think that the price is right, but for those who cannot fork out the full $250, I would suggest waiting around. The recent sale figures in Japans could mean that the PlayStation Vita gets a price cut – Which could work out a lot better. Given the features and specs alone, this system would sell like hot cakes at a lower price.
Anyway, to conclude the written review I’ve done a video review to highlight any points missed (if any):
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