PS Vita: High end handheld gaming but strictly for the hardcore

By Dominic Smith,

Alright, okay. Calm down! Chillax! What’s all the hubbub about this bloomin’ PS Vita thing then? Well, with on-the-go gaming now done primarily on the good ol’ smart phone device, many other great tech and gadget websites have been arguing that it’s a little bit silly to be producing a brand new hand-held console in the rather sultry shape of the PS Vita. Indeed, first reviews have split opinion right down the middle.

PS Vita

Image courtesy of iFixit.com

What do we think? We all know (yeah, that’s you as well…) that in this…. wait for it… poor economic climate (sorry… the phrase was necessary) that people (even avid gamers) don’t have as much time as they might usually, or as much money to spend… yeah, so money’s the main problem. Anyway, with that in mind, it begs the perfectly valid question: “Is a device that costs over £200 really going to make a difference and entice people part with their cherished pennies?” The answer, quite honestly is… maybe.

At first glance, this thing looks a lot like the PSP and the operating menu is a bit like the Wii (nice and clean with lots of room for manoeuvre) – don’t worry though, because the Vita is in fact, a lot bigger than the former, which in the gaming world is good… because it makes things a lot easier in terms of both readability, and playability…. you already knew that.

The reason why the PSP is worth bringing up here though, is because the Vita actually showcases the evolution of Sony’s very first hand-held baby – as such, it deals with a lot of the problems that were evident within that. This upgrade (kinda like the Robert Patrick’s T-1000 robot to Arnie’s The Terminator) is not so easy to damage – it has a strong reinforced shell which makes it much more durable and comfortable to play on the go.

Not enough for you? You’d like some other wonderful qualities? Since you asked, the Vita features the awesome double header of the PS3′s Dualshock controller which will lead to some delightful motion-sensor-related action, alongside a very credible attempt to recreate the dual analogue sticks, which though smaller (obviously), do most certainly help to reduce the desire that the PSP had to kill your thumbs. That is always a good thing, yeah? We really like our thumbs here at LG.

Another positive thing about the Vita is its diversity. It has the ability to stray into smartphone and tablet territory; there’s a wide multi-touch front screen (a teeny weeny bit larger, but equally as responsive as the trusty iPhone), and it’s got rear and front VGA (640 x 480 pixels) cameras that seem to work very nicely; a favourite feature for many people who will actually use them to full potential for in-game usage and photo manipulation.

One of the best options of course, has to be the Near GPS location service (pretty nifty) – it’s a multi-layered tool for locating other gamers as well as allowing the user to access a variety of movies, music and picture files that can easily be imported from home. Nice work. Did we mention the charming five-inch OLED display (which is particularly awesome), oh, oh also the four hours of quality battery life and audio (best experienced via headphones). No? Well, they’re treats that you are more than deserving of, dear readers.

The numerous game titles can either be bought in old’s cool (old school…) boxes or, in the deceptively… erm flashy new PS Vita flash-card format (which, before we slag it off, you can rather handily save games on), or downloaded from the PlayStation Network to an annoyingly tiny PS Vita memory card (’bout the size of your phone’s sim). The very unfortunate thing (which a number of other reviews have noted) is that both of these cards need to be attached through some of the most challenging access points that you are likely to find within the gaming world… collective sad face.

Some other quite negative points to take into account before we finish, are the fact that for one, there’s no storage internally, and even more astonishingly, the largest memory card available at launch will be 16GB at a cost of £45 – might be a tad too much, eh?. Also, each game that you play has to be terminated in order to start another… that’s a definite downer, but it could be worse , at least you won’t have loads of games running at once and clogging up your precious memory… nobody likes that. right?

In summary, the PS Vita is expensive, but with 25 games confirmed for the launch (including Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Wipeout 2048) it’s set to keep avid games busy for a good long while, and (perhaps) establish itself as an innovative new cross-media platform.

The Vita is going to be available from February 22 at £230 for Wi-Fi-only, and £280 for 3G model.