PS Vita: My Review

I bit the bullet

I was being good and avoiding buying a PS Vita but sharing a flat where I can’t game on my own schedule and desire, but on when the front room is free. My flatmates work shifts so I do regularly know when that is. Whilst part of me was thinking I should hold out, see if the prices come down and see if maybe a LTE version was on the cards.
After all you can’t play multiplayer games on the 3G of PS Vita sadly.
But I bit the bullet anyway in desperate need of some gaming.

 Try before you buy

I didn’t just sail straight into a shop and buy it of course. I’d played around on several PS Vita in the shops. I had a go at a few games, but none of the games really let you experience the new hardware features. And the games they had on show were not ones designed to show off the graphics hardware to its maximum too.
But I played as much as I could and got the feel for the Vita.

First Impressions

First thing’s first, dual analog sticks! I’ve still no idea why these weren’t on the PSP in the first place. The gaming experience transfers straight to the PS Vita, I’m looking forward to Call of Duty and the like coming out later this year on the PS Vita.

Immersive Experience

Playing Uncharted: Golden Abyss really showed the possibilities for using the extra hardware. For example, thru the game you find relics that you need to take rubbings off, so you use the touchscreen to take the rubbing. You discover relics which you use the rear touch panel to turn them, whilst using the touchscreen to clean them and find clues.
But some of the best bits of additional immersion come when you only just make a jump and have to swipe up on the touch screen to save your character from falling, the urgency of needing to change your thought process and hand position on the Vita make for an adrenaline kick. Another bit of immersion that I thought was a nice touch was when you find a document that you have to hold up to the light to see the writing on. Using the PS Vita’s rear camera you actually have to hold the document up to a bright light to reveal the text and proceed.

I look forward to seeing how game designers are going to use these hardware features in their games to enhance the experience. I think that Uncharted has given them a lot of good ideas to think about and hopefully use as a springboard for their own ideas.

Do we really need a dedicated handheld console?

Part of my first few moments with the Vita I kind of felt like most of this hardware, and so possibilities, already exist on an iPhone and iPad, and other table and smart phone hardware, so did I need a dedicated device.
I knew the answer quick enough, yes! Whilst I do play the occasional game on my iPhone and on my tablet, there is no longevity in the experience for me. Mostly because of the lack of physical controls, but also, as much as there are many games for the iPhone, and no doubt games developers will get more and more involved with this market, but at this point, the best games are made for PCs and games consoles.

I think this will hold true for some time. Could you image paying £40 or so for a game for your tablet or smart phone? No, neither can I. Spending more than about £3 on an app for my phone or tablet is something that I think about twice.
But gamers will, not so begrudgingly, pay that for a PC of console game.

All in all I’m pleased with my purchase, and I’m addicted to playing Uncharted at the moment, which means I’m whipping thru the game very quickly and have already bought another game from the PSN.

The PS Vita Interface

This brings me on to the PS Vita interface. It’s ok, it’ll do for the moment, and it’s refreshing they haven’t just plonked the usual Sony interface on it. But it does need some work. It’s a bit clunky and when you double press the PS button it feels like there’s actually two interfaces on there.

My biggest bugbear with the interface is that it’s not entirely clear when your actions are going to close another ‘app’/game until you click another app or game and you are prompted that this will close the last game or app you had open.
This would be easy enough to work out if it was the case with all apps and all games, but it’s not, so the pop up warning is almost always a surprise when it pops up.
I don’t feel like I should have to leave the game I’m playing to browse the web on my Vita.

My only other real gripe is that the WiFi connection options are still sparse. I can happily connect to my home WiFi, but I can’t connect to my work WiFi network, which I run, to either our eduroam wireless connection or to our guest WiFi, which doesn’t use 802.1x authentication and so should just connect and then give you the captive portal when you try to browse a webpage.
What’s more is that it’s not apparent that it’s failing to connect, except for the lack of Internet access.

Conclusions

I’m very pleased with my purchase, gripes aside, and it feels much more like a proper gaming experience. My PSP’s graphics are now dated and games trying to fit a lot on the screen end up looking like old Sega Master System games. But on the PS Vita you can get lost in the nice beautifully big screen. Even when you are zoomed out in wide shots in Uncharted you can see what is going on and enjoy the game thoroughly.

I’m looking forward to see what games come out for the PS Vita, and I hope the gaming industry get’s right behind it!

Leave a Reply