If you glossed over the first edition launch of the PS Vita on February 15th but are still interested in the full product launch this Wednesday then read-on. Having used the Vita over the last week here is what I think you should know before you make the purchase.
I’m very pleased with the build quality and design of the device, both atheistically and functionally. The screen is absolutely gorgeous, the controls are responsive; the device just feels solid and not to mention, it has dual analog sticks!
The remote-play feature works about as you would expect, and similar to the PSP in how you connect to your PS3. I never get tired of using my PS Vita in bed to access media and content on my PS3 in the living room. It’s just a great feature, and one that I would love to see expanded upon. Right now, unfortunately, most PSN titles won’t play remotely through the Vita, which cripples any awesomeness that this feature could really provide.
Speaking of missing features, Sony, if you read this, please release an App for the PS Vita to turn it into a media remote for the PS3. How great would it be to use the Vita’s touch screen capabilities to control movie playback (pause, rewind, etc). We already have remotes like this out there made by Logitech, Sony you have one right here in your hands just begging to be used. Make it happen.
I still haven’t seen the Netflix app for Vita show up in the PS Store, although its expected to be there sometime soon. My guess is it will be like using Netflix on any other portable device (iPad, iPhone, Android, etc), which should be just about awesome like always.
The web browser is passable, but it is by no means amazing. Typing on the 5” OLED screen is sometimes awkward and the lack of a “.com” button familiar to those using iOS is troubling for me, I do have relatively small hands for a man, but I think most people will find that typing extended Google searches is uncomfortable.
Speaking of comfort, holding the device in games where the back panel is touch compatible can be cumbersome. There simply isn’t that much space on each side to rest your fingers. I’ve found that some of the games, like Super Stardust Delta, are accounting for that by not registering “resting” fingers on the touch panel. However, in games like Little Deviants where so much of the controls are based on the back touch panel it becomes hard to handle.
The games themselves have all been pleasantly enjoyable thus far, especially for someone who prefers traditional console gaming over mobile-based games. I could write a review on any one of these games, but I’ll just gloss over the launch titles that you should consider buying.
Super Stardust Delta: available only on the PSN, it is quite possibly one of the most addicting and challenging games I’ve played in awhile. Those who played and enjoyed games like Ikaruga will certainly fall in love with Super Stardust. Controls, graphics, sound, challenging gameplay, online play. Its all there. Price: $9.99.
Wipeout 2048: This is one of the more enjoyable games so far, and in my experience trying to find it (four stores in three days) it seems to be one of the more popular titles as well. It’s a challenging racer that is true to the Wipeout franchise. If you like racing games, this is a must have. Price: $39.99.
Hot Shots Golf: Again, true to the Hot Shots series. It’s fun and easy to just pickup and play 9-holes while you’re on the bus or doing whatever it is that requires you kill 5-10 minutes of time. I found it to be a bit too easy for my liking, but maybe cranking up the difficulty will help, I’m just too busy playing Wipeout to find out. Price: $39.99.
Uncharted Golden Abyss: Everything you would expect from the Uncharted series, great controls, great gameplay, great graphics, and great fun. I just can’t commit the time to play something this serious on a handheld. I got my copy for free, as GameStop is currently running a buy 2 get 1 free on Vita first-party software. With that being said, it may be the best free game I’ve ever received. Price: $49.99.
Other notable titles: FIFA 2012, ModNation Racers, Escape Plan (PSN-only), Lumines, Rayman Origins, Touch My Katamari, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Ninja Gaiden Sigma plus.
Skip these games: Little Deviants, Army Corps of Hell, Shinobido 2: Tales of the Ninja,
Upcoming Gems: MLB 2012: The Show, Gravity Rush, Little Big Planet.
All around, the PS Vita is a very well polished handheld with absolutely no shortage of long-term potential. The device is built to last and has great hardware specs that will continue to assure its capabilities for years to come. I’m a bit more hopeful coming out of my first week of using the device and have no problems seeing how it could become a staple in my backpack.
Of course, I still have my doubts about publishers willing to jump on board fast enough to give the platform a solid launch and, of course, there are questions if there is widespread enough demand to make this thing last. Many people now are less interested with in-depth gaming explorations on the go, like Uncharted, and are just fine with playing Peggle on their iPhone.
However, even knowing this, I can’t say that I regret my decision to purchase the PS Vita. It’s a great handheld and, provided the games are present by fall, I will surely get my money’s worth from the investment. If you’re looking to pick one up, here are your options beginning this Wednesday, February 22nd.
The Wi-Fi Only Model: This package is the base version from Sony, retailing at $249.99. It lacks the GPS functionality of the 3G versions as well as, well, 3G network capabilities. It comes with just the system, all accessories sold separately.
The 3G Model: At launch this bundle will retail for $299.99 with a 8GB memory stick included. For this reason alone, I would recommend it over the Wi-Fi only model. While I never have any intent on activating my 3G data plan with AT&T, the 8GB memory stick will retail for $34.99, leaving only a $15 gap to bridge in upgrading to the 3G capable models. While you may never use the 3G, you’re going to need memory sticks for this thing. So pay the extra $15 and get yourself the extra features “just in case”.
In conclusion, if you have disposable income (possibly in the form of an income tax return from Uncle Sam) I’d recommend the Vita.
If money is a bit tight and you’re trying to get the most immediate bang for your buck I’d recommend you hold off and keep an eye on the “upcoming titles” lists just to make sure that the system will have the long-term staying power that you ultimately desire when you spend $300 to pick one up.
Of course, as we’ve seen in recent history with the 3DS’ struggled launch as well as the PS3 when it first debuted, a price drop could happen pretty quick if the sales in the U.S. resemble those of Japan. Since a lot of the games aren’t being released until summer or fall, if you’ve got the patience it may not hurt to wait it out and see what happens.
I give it my stamp of approval, but there are a lot of “buts” and “ifs” that come along with that stamp. What I will say with conviction is this, keep your eyes on this product as it develops because we could be on the verge of something golden.