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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2012
As someone who travels fairly regularly, I was interested in purchasing a top of the line gaming laptop. The main purpose was to have top flight portable gaming. After analyzing the pros and cons, I decided against the gaming pc and decided I'd try the PS Vita instead. Overall, it's an amazing piece of hardware. However, there are a few complaints I have about the system. I'll list the good and bad.

Amazing graphics with beautiful resolution. On flights, I normally use an ipod touch to watch movies. But movies will look so much better on the Vita.

Interface is laid out wonderfully and navigating the system is a breeze.

Gives a console gaming experience on a portable device. My daughter has a 3DS. The 3DS has great graphics in its own right, but the Vita blows the 3DS out of the water. Smartphones don't even belong in the conversation. Game developers will be able to create some amazing titles for this device. Bear in mind that games will look much better when developers learn more about the system.

The Vita is a bit pricey when you factor everything in. After purchasing the system, 2 games, a memory card, warranty, protective shield and case, and tax, the Vita totaled nearly $500.

Memory Card is over priced. I had hoped that the card would be the same one used as the original PSP. After some research, I discovered that Sony ditched that medium bc it was very susceptible to piracy. I can understand trying to protect their system from piracy, but $100 for a 32gbs of memory is a joke.

Backwards compatibility - No UMD slots and original PSP games are only available through the playstation network. That leaves many gamers who owned the original psp in the dust. Since the Vita is capable of playing psp games, I would like to be able to sell off my original psp so I don't have to carry it around. I also have read that Sony will not make available the transfer system that was available to Japanese gamers that would've allowed US gamers to register their UMD psp titles online and then transfer them to the PS Vita. However, even gamers who take advantage of the transfer system are charged $5-$20 for games they have already purchased. I believe a one time fee of 10-25 dollars would be fair and charging for each transfer is unreasonable.

Remote play - I was under the impression that the PS Vita would include remote play for the PS3 and allow you to play PS3 titles via the Vita. Currently, the feature is extremely limited. Sony showcased the Vita's ability to remote play PS3 titles at E3, and hackers found an exploit in an earlier version of PS3 firmware that allowed the Vita to remote play several PS3 titles. It's been proven that it can be done. Sony needs to get it done.

As a stand alone gaming system, it is an awesome machine. In time, the price of the machine will go down. Hopefully the price of memory will too and the remote play will be improved too. I give it 4 stars for the reasons I mention above. But the pros definitely outweigh the negatives. I believe any gamer is going to be impressed with the Vita.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2012
Today is the 12th day since I got the Wi-Fi PS Vita on launch day and what is my take on it so far? I have to say it is the ultimate gamer's portable dream! It trumps any handheld gaming experience in history and the hardware just oozes with groundbreaking potential.

Out of the box, you will notice that it is satisfyingly larger than its older brother, the PSP-1000 (and its various slimmer versions), but it's noticably lighter because of the absence of the UMD drive. Also, despite of its size, it is still certainly surprisingly pocketable, not skinny jeans pocketable, but it will fit slacks pockets when needed. The exterior is still made of plastic, even the silver toned sides (ala iPhone 4), but it still feels solidly built and it has this comfortable heft. I would say, compared to the old PSP, I prefer the Vita's size because my hands don't feel as cramped and my thumbs fall naturally above the d-pad, buttons and the sticks without the constant contortions I had to do with the PSP, especially when pushing the X button. The Vita fits snugly in your palms and all the controls are ergonomically appropriate.

Turning it on, you are welcomed by the star of the show: the brilliant 5 inch OLED screen. The resolution is 960 by 544, not exactly Retina Display, but for a 5 incher, it remarkably screams HD. Play games like Uncharted Golden Abyss, Rayman Origins or Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus and you would say it's as close to PS3 graphics as you could without lugging around a TV. The old PSP-1000 screen looks dull. washed out and so SD in comparison. Colors are brilliant, blacks are amazing, contrast is excellent and since the screen is standard for all Vitas, everyone will see the game like the developers intended them to be seen. I notice some strange blotches in black loading screens, though, but I read that these are normal and it's an inherent flaw with OLED screens. It's a non-issue because they're gone as soon as images are displayed.

Now back to the controls. This is what makes the Vita finally a full-blown home console alternative: Dual analog sticks! The Vita's sticks are full-fledged sticks this time around and they mimic the PS3 Dual Shock 3 sticks admirably. Unlike the PSP analog nub though, the Vita's sticks are partially raised but because of this, they have excellent movement play. I would say the analog sticks were designed and positioned perfectly on the Vita. I just wished they they made them clickable as well (for L3 and R3).

The D-pad and the main buttons on the Vita are clicky and have less travel than the PSP and are less spongy. They are also smaller than the original PSP's but I prefer the Vita's despite of their size because of their perfect positions. Also, the shoulder buttons on the Vita are smoother and feel more solid than than the PSP's shoulder clickers.The Vita's Select and Start buttons I'm not a fan of though. They're flush and pressing them is a chore. This gets annoying with games like Uncharted where you constantly check the map and it is mapped to the Select button. Annoying but just my slight complaint.

Now, here's where the PS Vita sets itself apart from anything you have seen before. Coupled with the usual six-axis motion controls (gyroscope and accelerometer), it has a rear touchpad! The touchpad feels like your regular front touchscreen and owing to the Vita's great design, my fingers just fall on it naturally. Never did it feel awkward or forced. Some launch games incorporate the rear touchpad but its more like a shoe-horned feature. The only game I've seen so far that makes the touchscreen and all the other Vita's functions an enjoyable necessity is Little Deviants.

The PS Vita is also equipped with serviceable but so-so front and rear cameras. They're not meant for taking stellar photos but they're in the Vita more for their augmented reality gaming potential. The Vita comes with Augmented Reality cards out of the box and there are free AR games available in the PS Store. I have tried these games and although they're not exactly great, I can't wait what game developers could come up with in the future.

The Vita's built-in stereo speakers are more or less the same as the PSP's but they sound a bit crisper and fuller. You could still definitely game without headphones on and are definitely better than the iPhone or iPad's paltry single external speaker.
Headphone output is crisp and clear with the right headphones.

The slots for the game cards and the accessory port plus the volume controls are located on the top. The memory card slot and the charging port (which is proprietary) are located on the bottom. I am not really fond of the slot covers. You need fingernails to latch them open and the doors feel flimsy.

So, that I think covers what I think about the hardware, what about the built-in software? Well, since the Vita is reported to have a quad-core processor, 512 MB system RAM and 256 MB VRAM, everything feels zippy. There is no lag at all in the menus and since the games are all optimized, everything runs smoothly. There is even slight multitasking while gaming. Within a game, you could go back the menu and fire up certain things like the Vita's Twitter client, check your Friends via Near, update trophies, etc. So far, so good, no problems so far. I just hope future apps will remain optimized and won't cause any problems.

The main thing Sony is touting about the Vita, aside from the console quality gaming, is its location based features, The built-in software Near is surprisingly interesting. Although clunky, it lets you meet players around your current location, see their activity, check out what games are popular, exchange 'game goods' (these are in-game items) and add them as friends. It's like gaming with a social networking twist. I think Near may be the only main reason why you would want the 3G Vita instead of the Wifi one.

The other apps I have tried are your basic ones like Facebook, Livetweet (like I mentioned), Flickr, Maps, Foursquare and Netflix. All of these apps are formatted and optimized for the Vita. Netflix looks pretty much like the PS3 or the Smart TV version. Facebook was buggy on launch but they fixed it but it's still a little slow. Livetweet is great. You could even grab a screenshot of your game (by holding the Home button and Start simultaneously) and tweet it instantly.

The Vita browser, unfortunately, is like its PS3 brother. It's buggy and slow. Right now, it is even less usable because it doesn't support HTML5 nor Flash at all. I hope they resolve this soon but I don't really see myself using the Vita browser all the time.

I also haven't used the Vita's native music or video player which brings me to my next point. I am not planning on making my Vita my all around device. I got a Vita because I want cutting edge portable gaming technology right now. For all other stuff, I have a smartphone or a tablet, which frankly, I don't find really suitable for long gaming sessions. I still prefer tactile buttons against frustrating touchscreen controls and I want full-sized console quality gaming on the go and not the watered down games we get on today's all around devices. I know it's another device to carry, but for sheer satisfying complete gaming experiences you could get anytime, as a long-time gamer, it is worth it.

The only real downside for me about the Vita is the lack of internal storage. For storage, I had to buy a proprietary 8 gig memory card which is a bit overpriced. I could understand that there may be standardized card speeds that Sony is implementing to optimize the Vita's performance but they are still on the expensive side. And I think 8 Gig is the minimum if you planning on downloading game demos and other items from the PS Store.

The retail games also come in a tiny SD card sized cartridge with a relatively, ridiculously oversized case. There is just so much wasted space on the game cases, I just wished they designed them to have built-in compartments for other games. At this writing, the launch games are still hovering around $40-50, so they're not really cheap. There are cheap games on the PS Store called Minis and there's a catalog of backward-compatible PSP games you could buy and download. What I'm waiting for are the Playstation One games. As of this writing, they're still not available.

Oh, and about the Vita launch games. So far I have Little Deviants, Hot Shots Golf, Rayman Origins, Uncharted Golden Abyss and the Vita port of my favorite game of all time, Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus. All of these games, I'd say are must buy if you want to experience a bit of what the Vita could. Eye-popping graphics, innovative control schemes, epic and complete gaming. (Ninja Gaiden is a pixel perfect port. Although it's just running 30fps, it's the Xbox and PS3 version in its entirety.)

So there, I have been gaming as long as I could remember and for me, I consider the PS Vita as THE next-gen of gaming, console or otherwise. I haven't touched any other gaming console since I got the PS Vita because it is more convenient, more relaxing and more personal than any existing gaming device right now. And most of all, it is a COMPLETE gaming experience on the go. So f you're getting bored with the current consoles, or you are totally afraid that this current casual gaming trend may take over because of smartphones or if you simply want your portable gaming mojo reinvigorated, do yourself a favor and GET A VITA now.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2013
Excellent system. I've had it for a few weeks and have enjoyed it a lot. Screen size and brightness, weight, battery life, charger speed and size, sound quality, and extra applications (most notably Netflix) are all huge assets. Unfortunately, there are only a few games for the Vita that I consider worth purchasing, at least at this point. The PSP and PS1 support is what makes this worthwhile. Personally, I'm a huge MGS fan so the transfarring between HD collections is what sold me. If you can find a dozen or so games in the library that you'd want and have PS+ than I'd say you'll definitely enjoy the system. It is important to note, the Vita does not come with a memory card (unless you purchase a bundle) so you are going to have to pick up a memory card, which are generally quite pricey. They range in size from 4-32 gb. I would not even consider buying a 4. I personally bought a 16 gb and believe it to have a comfortable amount of space.

One random feature that I personally appreciate and consider worth mentioning is that if you are in the middle of playing a game (say a 35 minute boss battle) and the battery dies, it makes a save state. As long as the system doesn't completely lose charge, it will start back up wherever you were.

So in the end, I took off half a star for the total price after purchasing the system, memory card, and a few games and half a star for the lack of outstanding original content.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2012
I bought the Vita from gamestop but i felt i had to still write a review for other people to see. I absolutely love it. I;ve had every single handheld back to date and nothing feels as solid as this vita. It feels high tech, the screen is amazing! The little PSN games you can play on it (Escape Plan, Mutant Blobs Attack) Are extremely fun and show off the real tech in this system. A lot of people have been complaining about the memory cards, and even though they are overpriced, people seem to forget that it's not entirely Sony's fault that they made it that high. If hackers seriously didn't do what they did to the psp in the first place, they might have found and easier way to do things but business is business. If apple can do it and people still buy it, then i don't see why people complain about Sony. Just drop it and enjoy the games. I believe nothing is getting cheaper these days and until people wake up and realize that, we can move on from these discussions. All and All, the Vita is a Great system and shouldnt be undermined by Hating* reviews and down right fanboyism. Play it for yourself, give it a day or 2, play a game you think you won't like and i guarantee it will change your mind.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2012
I really hadn't paid the Vita too much attention before it came out. I had a PSP before and a DS and found that they really didn't hold my interest when I had a 360, PS3 and PC to fight for my gaming time. Well when the Vita was released I decided to drop by Best Buy just to check it out. I played the uncharted demo for about 15 minutes and came home and immediately ordered the Vita from Amazon. Before I tried it out I really wasn't expecting to be as blown away by the quality of the graphics on the goreous screen as I was. It really felt like having a little console in my hand. Well I've had it for about a week now and absolutely love it. I got six games for it so far but I've only gotten around to trying 3 of them so far. It so easy to get caught up playing a game when the visuals and sounds are so impressive. I can't wait to see what the later software looks like on this thing considering how good this first gen stuff already looks. Great system and I hope it sells a ton!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2012
When the Nintendo DS was announced, I didn't think much of the touchscreen. I even waited until the release of the DS Lite before I jumped on that bandwagon. Even now, I never use the touch screen on it. When the PlayStation Vita was announced, I had a different mindset. Touchscreen technology seems to have improved immensely since it was introduced in cellphones and tablets. Sony also had me very curious about the touch-sensitive back panel (and VERY happy that this system had 2 analog control sticks!) I was also rather impressed by the hardware specs... This little machine is a BEAST! Over all, I am really happy with my purchase, and I'll be happy to fill in the details why. There are also a few gripes (nothing worth docking a star, but worth mentioning,) that I have as well.

At any rate, I finally picked one up, and have had a few days to mess with it. The set-up was fairly intuitive, and I had to deal with an update, but that took about 5 minutes to download and install, so no harm there! I avoided buying any games at the store. I decided that I'll stick mainly with the PSN for purchasing my games, and with that in mind, I went with the moderately sized 8GB memory card, in hopes that the prices of those come down by the time it fills up. The first 2 games that I picked up for the PS Vita were Touch My Katamari and Super Stardust. I was a fan of the previous installments of these games, both were relatively cheap, and seemed like they'd make decent use of the new interfaces (which they did!) The graphics and sound pumped out on this thing really are top notch. The controls work perfectly, and having the second analog stick really is necessary for most modern games. Some reviewers mention that the analog sticks are way too sensitive. I had absolutely no issues with them. The buttons are very responsive, and have nice tactile response. The touchscreen is probably the best I've ever used, and I really like the implementation of the rear touch panel, though I'm still getting used to it.

When it comes to some of the more physical features, I'm largely satisfied as well. Some reviewers mention how big it is, as if they're almost disappointed (though I haven't read any that said that it's so big that it detracts from the experience.) For me, the size is fine, as I've never been one to take my portables everywhere I go. In fact, I appreciate the fact that it's larger than the PSP! You get way more screen real estate! (For the record, I mainly keep them at home, or take them with me when I travel. I've never been one to cart these to work/school!) Battery life is sufficiently long, especially considering what's under the hood! I was actually surprised that the PS Vita lasts so long, and is still pretty light weight.

The launch lineup is relatively sparse, but that always seems to be the case with a new console. I looking forward to a few of the titles that'll be hitting this year: Silent Hill will have a PS Vita release, and Final Fantasy X will be revamped in HD, and released for the Vita (as well as PS3.) The system seems to be a hit thus far, so I imagine that developers will be drawn to it, and the list of titles will bulk up soon enough!

As I mentioned before, I do have a few nitpicks. Since I'm used to Sony, I expected these, and I'm willing to deal with them, but these are some issues I'd like to see changed:

*No internal storage, and VERY expensive proprietary (Sony Brand-only) memory card options is a bit on the absurd side. It would make sense that this machine should have enough memory internally to at least handle software updates, game saves and apps that you'd always want access to, like Netflix (this app does have a decent interface, by the way, and while a bit on the small side for long viewing stints, the picture is nice!) Flash-based memory isn't that expensive, and something like 4GB wouldn't cost them much to install, nor would it take up much room inside. I get why Sony is trying to lock their cards, but damn... they're a bit harsh on the wallet! If there was a rating for "Affordability," the system would definitely lose a star. But this doesn't affect the over-all quality, nor does it make the games any less fun, so I will stay at 5 stars.

*While I like the rear touch panel, it does get in my way at times. I tend to hold my handheld systems with my fingers stretched across the back of the unit. I find black holes popping up randomly in Super Stardust, and my Katamari seems to get stretched out randomly. I'm sure that I'll get used to it, but for now, it's a minor annoyance.

*The lack of PlayStation Classics support upon launch is a bummer, but Sony says that they'll add that in once it's ready.

Ultimately, I'm very pleased with my purchase!
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2012
I'm somewhat of a Nintendo fanboy. With the exception of the game cube (which I never got), I've owned just about every major revision of every nintendo system ever released. For sony, all I ever had was the playstation 1 (no ps2, ps3, psp for me). For some reason I am just drawn to handheld systems and have always loved the offerings from nintendo. I've got a nice TV, but I just really like having the ability to play wherever I want. I absolutely loved the DS Lite, probably my favorite system ever, so I recently picked up the 3ds... as it turns out, the fun I've had with the 3ds is what ended up getting me sold on the vita.

There are already tons of reviews out there that focus on the specs of the vita... I'll skip most of that and try to compare to the 3ds.

Initial impressions on the vita:

- Seriously awesome looking/feeling. The 3ds is nice but there is no comparison, vita is in another league. I've only had the 3ds a couple months and the design flaws are already starting to show (i.e. the lines that appear on the top screen, which come from the ridge around the bottom screen when it closes). I've only had the vita a few hours but it is easy to feel the difference in quality.
- Screen is ridiculous. I've got an ipad 2 which I thought had an amazing screen, but the vita is insane. It's just so bright and vibrant, you can't hardly see the pixels. Unlike anything I've seen. The screen is almost as big as the entire 3ds! The 3d on the 3ds is really cool, and I honestly don't feel it is a gimmick, but the quality of the screen isn't that great and it has its own opportunities, particularly with viewing angles... I can only use 3d on the 3ds if I'm holding the system perfectly still in the "sweet spot". Not super practical.
- User interface is intuitive and pleasant to use. The interface on the 3ds is horrible, feels like it was pulled off of a 10 year old cell phone. The vita interface is fresh and doesn't feel dated.
- PSP games look great, and there's a huge library of them available for purchase now. Much more to choose from than the virtual console on 3ds. I get the impression that there's way more stuff in the store, whereas nintendo just trickles out a game here and there for the virtual console, there are hundreds of PSP games out there now.
- It has BUTTONS! I've been doing a lot of mobile gaming on the ipad 2 lately, and my god how I have missed having actual buttons. And dual analog sticks! The circle pad pro (adds a 2nd analog stick) for the 3ds, while functional, is one of the most ridiculous peripherals I have ever seen in my lifetime of gaming.
- Really solid launch titles. Rayman origins feels like the quality you'd get out of a mario platformer. Also has several other games announced that should keep momentum going (call of duty, final fantasy x, hopefully GTA is coming, etc). I'd argue that, at launch, it already has a library that gives the year-old 3ds library a run for its money. (Don't get me wrong, 3ds library has the edge currently, but I feel like that will change over the next year based on what's been announced and what I expect to happen)

- OK, you could argue this isn't a "bad" thing, but the device is not really pocketable. Especially if it's in a case. I love the form factor when I'm playing though.
- Analog sticks are kinda low on the system and don't feel like they're quite at the perfect location.
- You have to peel up this little tab to take games out / put them in. I don't like it and it feels like it might break eventually. This is my only complaint about the hardware.
- Proprietary everything. Memory cards, charging cables, AC adapters, etc, and of course it is all expensive and overpriced.

The 3ds, along with every 1st generation handheld nintendo has ever relased, definitely feels right out of the box like it is not 100% complete, and has significant room to improve. For anyone who has bought the original gameboy advance (had a screen that was not even lit!), the original DS (ugly, clunky, horrible screens), etc... you know what I am talking about. When nintendo inevitably releases the 2nd version of the 3ds many of the complaints about the current system will likely be fixed. Who knows what is to come, but with their track record of releasing new versions of handheld systems over & over, I'd be shocked if there isn't a new 3ds in the next year. That might change everything.

I would argue that the vita has no such faults (like the 1st-generation nintendo systems) and doesn't feel like there is anything that can be significantly improved upon or "fixed" with a future revision of the device. To me, that is a big win over the 3ds. I'd only recommend the 1st generation 3ds to someone who is a die-hard nintendo fanboy. For anyone else I would recommend the vita.
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41 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2012
Let me preface this review. I'm an adult gamer, have a professional career, etc. I don't have time for PC games anymore, and even console games are a hard sell for me since the ones I want to play demand a lot of time (Mass Effect, Dragon Age, etc).

Mobile gaming is nice, but the PSP was very dated. iPhone games are not in depth enough for me, and most are too casual. iPad, same story. I bought a 3DS hoping for better graphics and games, and it just sucked. What a let down. Then, Nintendo pulls the price drop stunt to infuriate us already disappointed early adopters. I went back to my PSP.

I bought a PSVita on launch day-and it is EVERYTHING I'd hoped for. The screen is big, but not too big. The graphics are incredible. I picked up Uncharted, Wipeout and Ninja Gaiden-and they're incredible. The processing power of this thing is insane. The controls are all smooth and fluid, I mean this thing is near PS3 quality gaming experience-in a handheld!

To make it even better, the launch titles are all mostly very good, and a large variety. Also, tons of my favorite PSP titles are available in the Playstation Store already! The prices are reasonable, too.

I'm telling you, if you are sick of Angry Birds, mad at Nintendo over the 3DS mess, there is hope for us all. Get this thing. It is amazing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2014
There are a lot of misunderstandings about this product, namely that 1) You can't move data between memory cards (and so an 8 or 16 gig is still perfectly adequate for a good library, and if you want to swap content, it takes almost no time to do so and is very intuitive), and 2) There aren't a lot of "good games" for the Vita. This one's confusing, because it's like people don't realize you can play ANY PSP or PSOne game (digital, of course, though they're very inexpensive), and it's almost impossible to run out of games to play. Both PSP and PSOne games run beautifully and are visually enhanced, and playing something like Chrono Cross with the improvements the Vita makes is freaking awesome.

While the battery life leaves much to be desired, especially with some games in particular that tax the hardware to extremes (e.g., Killzone: Mercenary, which will drain your battery beyond belief), this can easily be worked around with an external charger that is equal to or under 5V/1.5A. You *do not* need the official external battery, though you can use that if you want a lot of extra battery life. But you can easily get something like I have, which is 11,00 MaH and supports both 2.4A (for tablets) and 1A(for anything else). Contrary to popular belief, it does *not* need to be exactly 1.5A, but it should not *exceed* 1.5A. The $20 external charger is fine, though you can get a higher-capacity one, should you choose to.

In any case, the Vita is an outstanding handheld system that has rocketed from its slow starting point after supporting Plus and having major firmware overhauls that enhance its capabilities, most importantly, to play PS4 (streaming), PSP, and PSOne games, in addition to native Vita games. The OLED screen is staggeringly gorgeous.

I actually own a launch unit, which I decided upon after playing WipEout 2048 in a store, which wowed me. Things got MUCH better afterward, though I've never regretted the purchase. I got my brother the ACIII bundle later, which he very much enjoys.

Aside from a carrying case with game slots to walk around with, you don't really need much in the way of accessories besides an 8 or 16 gig memory card, which often go for $30 or less, and you will never, EVER need to buy another. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong, and didn't read the manual.

Beautiful system that deserves high praise. IMO, blows the 3DS out of the water.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2013
Despite the fact that it’s been touted as a major commercial failure in recent months (primarily in comparison to its sole competitor, the Nintendo 3DS), my interest was sparked in the PlayStation Vita thanks to a little game called Gravity Rush, and it was enough to motivate me to dash out and purchase the commercially floundering handheld. I’m happy to say I’m thus far satisfied with the purchase; the Vita is above all else a seriously sexy system, with fantastic features and loads of potential. Although its current catalogue of software leaves much to be desired and there are a handful of frustrating drawbacks, this console offers great fun for the hardcore gamer on the go.

The Vita is an impressively powerful system for a handheld, boasting a gorgeous 960x544 OLED multi-touch screen display; at a nicely-sized 5 inches (16:9) capable of 16 million colors, this screen offers some seriously vivid visuals. Although it’s not technically speaking HD, it almost (read: almost) rivals the iPhone’s retina display in terms of clarity and vividness-portable video gaming has never been clearer. Everything about the Vita screams high end technology in the palm of your hand; both the front and rear of the console are touch sensitive (both support multi-touch), there are built-in stereo speakers and a microphone (both of pretty solid quality, a big plus for online multiplayer), an A9 core CPU, built-in GPS, Wi-Fi and 3G support, Bluetooth wireless communications, a gyroscope motion sensor and more. Along the lines of tech specs and quantity of features, it has the 3DS beat tenfold.

Although most handheld consoles are awkward in some sense to hold, the PlayStation Vita is beautiful to look at and shouldn’t cause much discomfort after several hours of playtime (although because it is a lengthy system, games that utilize both the face buttons and the touch screen-at the same time-can be frustrating and occasionally make for some hand soreness). The face buttons are small but responsive and tightly mounted. Similar to the 3DS, the use of the L and R buttons can be occasionally wonky in games that demand their frequent use; notably fighting games such as PlayStation All-Stars can feel frenetic in their rapid pace on this handheld.

There are two models of the PlayStation Vita: Wi-Fi only and 3G-compatible, priced at $249 and $299, respectively. I own the Wi-Fi only model and in all honesty wouldn’t recommend the 3G capability; in an age where 4G is becoming the new standard and most people will already have online connectivity on the go through their smartphones and/or tablets, it’s a bit unrealistic to think most anyone would use this console to surf the web when they’re away from a Wi-Fi connection. Although I can’t speak to any of these factors from personal experience, I’ve come to learn that 3G Vita Internet connectivity not only drains the battery nearly twice as quickly but isn’t all that reliable depending on your location, meaning the reasonably tempting thought of online multiplayer matches while on a long car ride may in reality be plagued by some nasty lag. Additionally, the extra $50 for the console along with the monthly $14.99 payments to AT&T really aren’t likely to be worth it in the long run for most gamers.

One of the Vita’s most excellent assets is its comparatively strong battery life, something several other electronic devices nowadays fail to deliver. As where competitor Nintendo’s 3DS and Wii U GamePad are both bogged down by abysmal battery lives, you can expect to play your Vita for upwards of 5-6 hours before the battery completely depletes (depending of course on what you’re doing), which is very impressive for a handheld console with such high quality graphical capabilities. Like most smartphones, the Vita can quickly be put into standby mode (regardless of what you’re doing onscreen) by simply tapping the power button. This conserves battery even further, so if you only play in spurts throughout the day it can in fact be fairly easy for it to go strong until you’re back home.

The console’s interface is clean and user-friendly but does have a few setbacks. Each application appears as a bubble icon which must be tapped to initiate an introductory screen; yet another “start” icon must be tapped a second time to actually open the app. Like Apple’s iOS, apps stay open until they are manually closed (their introductory screen’s page is swiped downward on the touchscreen); the only exception is games, only one of which can be open at a time. While the home screen looks nice and is easy to use, the fact that multiple taps and activations are required to open or close anything can make multitasking a bit frustrating over time, and it seems as though some of these applications overlap and didn’t need to be separate from one another (if you want to start a voice or text chat, view your friends list and check out your friends’ trophies, you’ll have to open three separate applications. A single “Friends” app would’ve really sufficed).

Another major success, however, is the console’s mostly seamless interactivity and connection between Vita and PS3. Although this occasionally depends upon different games’ respective capabilities, many PS3 games (and soon to be PS4) are cross-compatible with the Vita, meaning you can start a game on your PS3 and finish it on the Vita or vice-versa. In addition to this, you can log into the exact same PlayStation Network account you use on your PS3 home console to pull up and utilize the same data and information, meaning essentially every digital purchase you make can be transferred/downloaded to your Vita for remote play, and you can also maintain your trophies, ranks and level-ups in fighting and various other games to ensure all your online multiplayer progress is sustained, regardless of which Sony device you’re accessing it from. This cross-connectivity is an incredibly useful feature for avid Sony users, and with the introduction of the PS4, Sony has confirmed that the Vita will have a connectivity to the home console not unlike Nintendo’s GamePad does to the Wii U.

As many wonderful features as the Vita does offer, some clunky mistakes were made that may present more glaring issues for some more than others. As previously mentioned, the game’s highest end model is a whopping $300 (plus tax) if purchased brand new; this makes it in most cases the most expensive dedicated gaming console on the market right now (it is pricier than the Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, and even most models of the PS3 and Xbox 360), which is a bit ironic considering its status as a commercially floundering Sony handheld amidst a competitive generation shift. A price drop has been confirmed in the near future, but when exactly this will happen or how much it will drop by is unclear. As of now, the console is honestly overpriced given its stiff competition (in both the gaming and tablet/smartphone markets), so I’d recommend going used if possible (this drops the price by upwards of $60-80+).

Arguably the Vita’s most obnoxious setback by far, however, is that this already high price is forcibly spiked even further by the fact that PlayStation Vita consoles do not come with any of their own storage space. What this means is that in order to download or play any games/applications on your Vita at all, you’ll need to purchase an SD card separately along with it (pathetically, ordinary Vitas don’t come prepackaged with one). Worsening this annoyance is the fact that you’ll have to purchase Sony’s Vita-specific micro SD card, because the console isn’t compatible with ordinary ones. The cheapest one is nearly $20, and even this will only net you a measly 4 GB (i.e., don’t plan on downloading more than two or three console games). The console honestly needs at least 14-16 GB for avid gamers, which will set you back yet another whopping $60 for the 16 GB Vita SD card. To put this into perspective, that would bring your total Vita purchase up to nearly $380 after tax. The fact that Sony decided against providing any memory in the console itself was ridiculous; the 3DS may not have much storage space, but at least you don’t have to pay extra for it right off the bat. While there are bundles and starter kits that do in fact come along with the card, you’ll have to be willing to throw down the extra cash (and/or be interested in the games they come with), and most of these only come with the very limiting 4 GB.

Regardless of these assets and setbacks, the number one thing on the average gamer’s mind for a console are the games. As of right now, the Vita is plagued by a comparatively sparse software catalogue; while there are Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed for shooters, Rayman Origins for platforming and games like PlayStation All-Stars, Marvel VS. Capcom and Street Fighter X Tekken for brawlers, there still isn’t a great deal to choose from overall and chances are the catalogue of Vita exclusives will have to expand before it’ll be anywhere near a must-have. Gravity Rush and Persona 4 Golden present some of the more unique and enticing entries exclusive to the system, but the near future feels barren along the lines of new releases or IPs. I’d recommend looking into the catalogue of available games and what you’d realistically play before making the purchase.

All in all, very much like the Wii U, the PlayStation Vita is a console brimming with features and potential, the latter of which has yet to be fully realized. This doesn’t stop it from being a beautiful system with loads of fun and sleek, addictive functionalities to offer, but it does prevent it from being the fantastic must-have it could be…at least for now. At this moment in time, it caters primarily to a niche audience willing to throw down a fairly hearty amount of cash for decent amounts of hardcore gaming and fun on the go. If Sony really wants to give it the edge up on the competition, expanding the catalogue of software and dropping the price should be the number one focus. If this is executed properly, the Vita could indeed fulfill Sony’s promise as the Vita being the perfect companion to its home console.
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