What’s this all about?
As you may well know, recently I decided to purchase a PlayStation Vita. I am not entirely sure why. The catalogue doesn’t really stand out to me, I never use my PlayStation 3 and I didn’t see many opportunities to game on the go. But I own everything else, so why not? Why not make it a console “full house”? I had no answer to those questions so on a whim I ordered the FIFA 13 bundle from Shopto.net (go check the site out its pretty damn great)
What's in the box?
The bundle I ordered came with a 4GB memory card (which is pretty damn useless), the handheld console itself, some AR cards (which I am yet to use, and probably will never use), A code for the digital version of FIFA 13 and all associated cables to charge and connect the system to the PC/Playstation 3. The first thing that hit me was that the pack in stuff was kind of lacking. Where is the awesome charging stand that I got with my 3ds or the neat little pouch to put the handheld in when I am on the move like I got with my original PSP? Hell I didn’t even get a cloth to wipe my grubby little finger prints off of the touch screen.
The system, tell us about the system?
The first thing that hit me about the Playstation Vita was the beautiful 5 inch oled screen. Its big, for a system this size anyway. And it looks beautiful, bright enough to use outside without any problems (at least for me so far). As far as I am aware the screen resolution is 960x544 which isn’t exactly as good as say an iPhone 4 screen but believe me the games still look amazing. Like many iOS devices the screen is also a multitouch, touch screen. It really baffled me that the 3ds didn’t decide to go with multi touch so its really nice to see that Sony has used it in their device.
The Vita also has a touch panel on the back. To be honest this is a huge pain in the arse. I catch it all the time with my fingers and to be honest its pretty useless. In games such as FIFA 13 where the option to turn it off is given that is my default choice.
Control wise the Vita is very similar to the Playstation 3 gamepad. You have your 4 face buttons (triangle, X, blah, blah) 2 analogue sticks (that don’t push in, so no L3, R3 action) and a D-pad that is very similar to a dual shocks. I love the familiar layout and I don’t see how sony can ever change this now. I do however dislike how there is only 2 shoulder buttons. I would have loved it if Sony had managed to find a way to fit L2 and R2 buttons in there somewhere. It probably wouldn’t have been that ergonomic for a handheld, but I dunno 4 shoulder buttons just feels right nowadays. I also wish the shoulder buttons would have been analogue (like the PS3 and Xbox). It just makes it so much easier for throttle control in racing games and feels so much better (for me at least).
The final flaw I have with the system is the memory management. No onboard memory, this seems really cheap. Especially now in the days where my phone has 16GB of memory and no SD card at all. The fact that Sony is making you pay over the odds for their own memory card format is disgusting. You need the memory too. With games coming in at 4 gigs a pop a small card just won't cut it. You pretty much have to shell out another £70 for a 32GB card. Rip off!
So online on handhelds, not really a big thing right?
Download speeds on the Playstation 3 are shitty to say the least. It seems to me, in fact I know that the Playstation Vita’s speeds are a damn site better. Like mentioned above games are around 4GB in size and speeds seem comparable to Steam or Xbox live. Which is awesome because I have downloaded every game that I own so far. That is mainly thanks to Playstation Plus. The Playstation Vita has really justified my PS+ purchase. Having an instant game library of 9 or so games is amazing and a new game every month, Awesome. Seeing as we are talking about the internet capabilities of this system, I suppose its worth mentioning the online gameplay. So I have only really played FIFA 13 online so far and the gameplay is really laggy and at some points unplayable. I really hope this isn’t the similar in other Vita games but I guess only time will tell.
So what can I do with this thing?
Allot of the software on the Vita is pretty generic, You know youtube, probably netflix and all your other music and video services. That has no interest to me on this type of screen. The web browser is pretty basic and useless too. Definitely not my first choice while I always have an iPhone handy.
What is interesting though is the base level system software. Stuff like Near, an app that lets you know what gamers are in your vicinity and what those people have been playing recently. The content manager lets you move games and apps from your Playstation Vita to your Playstation 3 or PC which can be handy with the limited space you have available even on the biggest memory card. Another interesting app is remote play which lets you stream certain PS3 games onto your vitas screen. I originally didn’t see a big use for this but I have been using it every so often to stream games to my vita while I watch TV on my big screen. There is also a basic party chat and group messaging app.
I also much prefer the Vitas “bubble” home screen layout than the X media bar of the Playstation 3 and PSP. It just seems a lot more intuitive especially with the touch screen.
Enough fannying about already, talk about games
I currently own 7 original Vita games. Those being Persona 4 Golden, Uncharted Golden Abyss, Metal Gear Solid HD, Mortal Kombat, Gravity Rush, FIFA 13 and Wipeout 2048. I also own 4 Playstation 1 classics. Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus, Crash Bandicoot, Final Fantasy VII and Rayman.
I have only really played 3 of those games enough to properly talk about
was the first game that I got into. I have never played a Wipeout game before and I have to say I really enjoyed this game initially. The further on I played the more tedious the game became though. There is very little to no variety in the game which is a real shame because the sense of speed and chaos was really fun at the start.
The second game was
I have only really put about an hour into this game but it seems solid. Whether Uncharted works on a small screen is yet to be seen for me but I love all 3 PS3 games so bring it on.
The game that I have been putting most of my time into though is
Persona 4 Golden
. This game is amazing. I think I have put about 20 hours into the game so far and I don’t even think I have scratched the surface. I haven’t played a good JRPG since Final Fantasy X and this is an awesome JRPG. Believe me. The integration of a social system that also aids you level up your characters is great. That addition means that like other JRPG’s Persona 4 isn’t one big grind fest. The story, although it is kinda dumb as hell it’s actually pretty interesting. Wow who would have thought that I would like a game where 50% of what you do is talking to people and maintaining relationships. I fucking hate talking to people it's such a ball ache. Somehow Persona makes that fun.
So when all’s said and done, What do you think
I really like the Vita and have been shocked by how much I use the thing. I don’t know if thats just my Persona 4 addiction though, only time will tell. The games look great, not quite as smooth as Playstation 3 graphics but a damn site better than last generation consoles. Its actually really impressive. Whether the handheld is worth the money aaaah, I’m not too sure. I would either wait for a price drop or maybe wait to see what the Playstation 4 compatibility is like. Hopefully the PS4 will better integrate the handheld and console experience. Just imagine raiding a “dungeon” in Bungies new game Destiny on the Playstation 4 at home then carrying on the same save file on your way to work on your Vita. I hear that MGS HD allows that with its dumb ass trasfarring mode so I should probably check that out.
So if you didn’t get that I like this thing but erm maybe not enough to justify a £200 purchase (£280 IF YOU WANT TO ACTUALLY HOLD GAMES ON THE THING).