PlayStation Vita is the successor to Sony’s PlayStation Portable that debuted back in 2005. With the release of the Vita in Japan, a lot of people were impressed with the new features the handheld offers to gamers and fans alike to the PlayStation brand. With a super bright five inch OLED screen and dual analog sticks, the Vita is what the PlayStation Portable fans has been longing for. However, at the price of $249.99 for the WiFi only model and $299.99 for the 3G version, is it time for PSP owners to invest in the PlayStation Vita?
For gamers who live in North America, a lot are wondering if investing in the PlayStation Vita is a wise decision. Since the debut of the Vita in Japan, a lot of Japanese gamers were impressed due to the diversity of games available like Bend Studio’s Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Some say the Vita can match the visuals of the PS3. Is this true? Let’s take a look on what’s the hottest feature of the PlayStation Vita and what disappoints us.
Bright as a Sun – Five Inches OLED Screen
The moment you turn on the Vita, you’ll be amazed on how bright the screen is. Comparing the screen to the PSP, players can see that when the handheld is viewed on a certain angle, dimness and ghosting can be seen. However, with the OLED screen of the Vita, the brightness and the crisp detail of the picture are bright as ever that you would think that you’re playing a HD game especially when games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss is being played. Thanks to the five inch screen, you can pretty much have a good experience when playing games with precise sharp visuals. When they say that the Vita can match the PS3 visuals, they’re not lying. It’s true.
Touch Screen and Rear Touch Pad
Another new feature that Vita has to offer is the ability to use the screen as a touch screen and the back as another touch pad. When utilized, games such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss, you can expect to experience the game in a whole new level. At first, my impression in using the touch screen while playing Golden Abyss was annoying. After spending time getting used to it, playing with both the traditional controls and the touch screen works well together as it lets the players get involved when playing by swiping or rotating objects via the touch pad. This new addition to the Vita will give more innovation to the players when playing. Who could’ve thought an Uncharted game can work so well with a touch screen?
How precise is the touch screen you ask? Very precise that when you touch anything on the screen, the system picks it up right away. Also, if you’re worried about the screen getting light scratches, you don’t have to worry much as the screen is now sturdy and looks to be made of glass instead of the plastic used for the PSP.
Gyro Tilt Controls
If you think the Nintendo 3DS is the only handheld that supports gyro controls, you’re wrong. Another useful feature that Vita owners will enjoy are the controls when using the gyro. When playing a racing game or a game that supports gyro controls, you can tilt your Vita sideways or back and forth as you control either the character or the cars. The gyro works so well that it adds realism when playing games that supports the feature.
Graphical Horse Power is A Beast
Some say that the PlayStation Vita’s graphics resemble closely to that of the PS3 Is it true? Not actually 1:1, but you could say its very close. To show how intensive the Vita’s graphics are, all you have to do is play Uncharted: Golden Abyss. For those who have played Drake’s Fortune, you’ll be able to distinguish the similarities between the two games. If Golden Abyss is an indication as to what the Vita can process when it comes to visuals, we can expect a lot more good looking games to arrive on the Vita in the future.
New User Interface
On the PlayStation Vita, Sony ditched the cross media bar user interface. Instead, they’ve used something similar to the WebOS interface where the applications installed on the Vita can be accessed by only pressing it. You can no longer go to any of the application with the D-Pad and face controls as you now need to use your finger to touch it. The programs installed on the Vita are now called Apps and the apps you installed from the PS Vita Card or PlayStation Store will appear on the home screen for easy access.
The Apps that are pre-installed on the Vita are:
– PlayStation Store
– Content Management
– Welcome Park
– Web Browser
– and Friends
The Live Area on the PlayStation Vita is the new hub for each of the apps for the handheld. Every time you launch an app from the home screen, the Live Area will appear. In that Live Area, depending on what applications that you use, you can either update the game if there’s a patch available, see the activity of your friend or yourself and read the manual for the Vita games. As mentioned earlier, it seems that Vita games has officially ditched the paper manuals and just implements it on the game card via the Live Area.
Two Analog Sticks Are Here!
When the PlayStation Portable was released, a lot of us complained on how the handheld ruined the experience without the second analog stick. Well, Sony heard our complaints and finally implemented a second analog stick to the Vita. With the second stick, it makes the game play much easier especially when playing Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Primarily, the second analog stick function puts an ease to players when controlling camera. Does it make playing Vita titles much easier? Absolutely.
Good Launch Line Up
The 3DS launched in all regions with a weak line up, only offering at least 15 titles. When the PlayStation Vita launches in North America next year, gamers can expect to see a plethora of games to choose from that is aimed to all kinds of audiences. Some games to look forward to at launch are mostly first party games such as Bend’s Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Little Deviants for younger audiences and Wipeout for those who love racing titles. Also, some of the games next year that gamers can expect are blockbuster titles that were a hit on the PS3 such as Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention, and hopefully the localized version of Persona 4 The Golden and many more! Don’t forget that Square Enix confirmed that Final Fantasy X will be coming to Vita!
Why No Memory Card Included?
When Vita launches in North America early next year, don’t think that you’ll be able to play the handheld right away. Majority of the games in Vita will require you to have a memory card. Without a memory card, games such as Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss will be absolutely unplayable as the these kind of titles will require to install a little bit of its data such as the save slots. So, remember when the Vita launches next year in the US shores, make sure that you don’t give yourself a budget for just a Vita and a Game. Add $50 more to your budget as that will go with the purchase of a memory card.
Honey I Shrunk the Buttons!
The size of the Vita isn’t really that big of a difference to the PlayStation Portable. It’s around 15-20% bigger than the PSP to cater the five inche OLED screen. With a big screen comes very small face buttons. If you are used to the medium sized buttons on the PSP, you will be surprised on how Sony shrunk them for the Vita. For gamers who have big fingers, it maybe troublesome playing the Vita as you’ll most likely press two buttons at the same time with the buttons being so small.
Battery Still Suffers
Nothing has changed much when it comes to the battery life of the Vita and the PSP. By simply just using the basic features of the Vita like playing the game with the WiFi enabled, you can expect the battery to last at least three hours or even less. Even though the battery is at 2200mAh, the battery still suffers and the only solution that you can have is to buy the portable charger that Sony will release this Spring.
Sony Releasing Incomplete System
Okay, you might think that the Vita is cheap with the $249.99 price point. Actually, that’s what Sony tries to make you think but in reality, you’ll be spending more than 400 dollars with all of the accessories that are necessary for the handheld such as the memory card. If you decide to ditch the physical version of the Vita games and want to go all digital, you would need the biggest memory card that is 32GB with a price point of $99. With all of the patches, add-on content, and many others applications that Sony promises to include on the Vita, it would be wise for Sony to at least include a memory card to the Vita. Hey, they did include it on the PSP Value Pack! At least include 2GB for us to use to play the game right away.
PlayStation Vita has indeed improved over its predecessor, the PSP. With the five inches OLED screen, the ability to use the touch screen and the rear pad to innovate gamers into playing something fun, and the improved user interface that I find a lot better than the cross media bar, the Vita holds a lot of promise and could do very well than the PSP. However, with Sony not included a base memory card on the Vita at launch in North America, might make gamers with low income have trouble in picking the system up as they will be forced to buy a memory card along with the Vita and a game. Overall, PlayStation Vita is a must have gadget for 2012 for anyone who are able to afford it at launch. With its great line up, you will be missing a lot if you don’t pick it up.
[Editor’s Note: The PlayStation Vita hardware is based on the import unit from Japan.]PlayStation Vita Hardware Review,