We Get Handsy With The Sony Playstation Vita [REVIEW]

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While this isn’t coming out on the day the Sony Vita released, I wanted to get a full grip of the handheld system before I posted my thoughts. Having over two weeks with the console since we got it, I can say that our honeymoon was a good one. There were some ups and downs early on (like any relationship) but I can say with complete honesty that this is a device that I will keep by my side. Below I’ll touch on the good, the bad, and (of course) the games.

The Graphics

Starting with the graphics, it becomes crystal clear that you’re playing with the most advanced portable gaming system in the world. The 5″ OLED touch-screen is vibrant and almost looks like you could be playing a smaller version of the Playstation 3 courtesy of the 960×554 qHD pixels.   I have nothing but good things to say about the way that the screen/games look, so I’m keeping this section short.

The Touchscreens

Personally, what got me so excited about the Vita was the dual-touchscreens that it features. On the home screen (which is extremely easy to navigate), there’s no need for any of the buttons. For someone who legitimately hasn’t owned a handheld device since a color Gameboy (I’ve spent more than enough time on the PSP), the touch screen functionality is a welcome change for Sony’s range of handheld consoles.

Since this functionality is such a draw to the Vita, game developers were always going to utilize the touchscreen capability as much as possible. While I can appreciate the ingenuity it sometimes offers (in FIFA, for example, simply touching a point on the pitch will lob a ball there), I would suggest perhaps sticking to the dual analog sticks, bumpers, and buttons. I was so caught up with trying to use the new functionality that I actually found my gameplay skills suffering. Having said that, you should allow for a learning curve.

The rear touchscreen is a whole different kind of animal to tame. First off, you need to understand what the Vita feels like. It doesn’t need to be thick because the games are essentially memory cards, a la no moving parts. This is all well and good (and translates to a surprisingly light piece of equipment) but I feel like my large hands are holding it improperly. As a result, I’m too scared that my fingers are going to hit the rear touch-screen so that I don’t drop it. There’s no first-party solution at the time of publishing, but Sony has officially licensed the PDP Trigger-Grip which apparently solves this problem.

The Operating System / User Interface

Like I said above, the home screen is just what you would want in a device with a touch screen. “Windows” or apps are closed or switched with a simple flick of the screen. Since you can choose to download the games via the Playstation Network, it’s important that Sony nails the ability to connect to the store easily. In short, they did. Within moments I had set up my PSN account wirelessly and was able to play FIFA against someone  (I haven’t connected via 3G yet). Battery life could be improved upon, as four hours isn’t really enough for those long trips.

The Games

When it comes to the games, you can almost forget about the gripes I had with the grip. There is hands-down no competition to the Sony Playstation Vita when it comes to fun. Games that immediately grabbed my attention were Uncharted, FIFA Soccer, Marvel vs. Capcom, and Shinobido 2. You can look forward to titles like MLB: The Show, Little Big Planet, Resistance: Burning Skies, and Unit 13.

The Performance

It may seem like I harped on the negative aspects of the Playstation Vita, but if you’re in the market for a handheld console, there is no substitute for the Vita. I’ve never been one to play games on my phone because they simply can’t compete with stuff like this. Pure and simple: I won’t use my phone as a gaming device and I won’t use my gaming device as a phone. All things considered, out of a full rating of 10, I would give the Vita an 8.5. What holds it back? The grip and feeling it has in my hands. What shines brightly? The games, graphics, and operating system.

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