Published on February 22nd, 2012 | by Charlie


Review: PS Vita

Review: PS Vita Charlie

Summary: Charlie takes a look at the PS Vita, is it any good? read the review to find out!


User Rating: 0 (0 votes)
Originally announced as the NGP, the PS Vita has finally been released in Europe and the United States. Doing a handheld review is not something I normally do, so let’s give this a try. It’s quite hard to believe that it was nearly 3 years ago that first reports of a possible new handheld from Sony began. Feels just like yesterday to be honest. And now that it’s here, just what will the PS Vita become? Well that’s a whole 5-10 years away, so let’s look at what it is now. Please note that is is a review just on the handheld and some of it’s accessories, not the games. Those reviews will come out in due course. This review is also for the 3G/Wi-Fi version, though there isn’t a massive different between the two. Opening the initial box, you receive:
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Vodaphone SIM Card (with UK version of 3G/Wi-Fi Vita)
  • USB Adaptor
  • Power Brick
  • Power Lead
  • 6 Augmented Reality Cards
  • Manuals
Sony have certainly gone to the trouble to fill up the box, that’s for sure. The price of the PS Vita is not cheap, with RRP price for the 3G/Wi-Fi version being £279 just for the handheld. But fortunately, you’ll get Wipeout 2048 free if you top up an extra £5 with the Vodaphone SIM (as of this moment, the Vodafone website isn’t working properly). Before you turn on your Vita, it is recommended you put in your SIM card and memory card. Memory cards are surprisingly expensive, with a 4GB memory card ranging from £15. In the UK, you can go as high as a 32GB card, costing around £60, whilst in the US, you can go as high as a 64GB card. They are also very small, so to be honest, you might as well put in the memory card as soon as possible since it’s easy to lose. The memory cards do not come with your Vita and you have to buy them separately, which is a little annoying because that adds more to the price. You start up your Vita with the same faff you might get with any Playstation product (The Playstation logo, “Sony Computer Entertainment”, “Sony: Make Believe” etc). Setting up shouldn’t take too long; setting up the time, date, language and so forth. After a brief tutorial video, which for some reason people have found annoying that they can’t skip it (it’ll only show up once for crying out loud), then it’s time to play about with it. Holding the Vita in your hands will, at first, feel rather strange, as it doesn’t feel like you’re holding a Playstation controller. The feeling may feel the same if you’ve ever owned a PSP, but for newcomers, it’s a strange feeling. Once you’re used to the way it feels, you realize it fits nicely into your hands. Buttons include the 4 buttons with shapes we’re used to on a Playstation controller, the 4 button D-Pad, 2 corner buttons, start and select, the PS button, as well as two thumb sticks. Unfortunately, you can’t click them down which no doubt I’m sure lots of owners have tried to do (myself included). It’s possible that they might include push down analog sticks in future editions of the Vita, but for now, it’s not much of a big deal. The analog sticks feel really nice to use, and the buttons itself are easily reachable. The sad thing is with these buttons is that they seem to be limited to certain games and applications, and you can’t really navigate around Vita menus using them, so you’re forced to used touch controls. I hope Sony will patch button/analog stick navigation soon. A problem that the Vita has is that it’s a dust and dirt magnet. Whilst idle, you can certainly see all the dust and finger marks you’ve left all over the screen of your PS Vita. When the screen’s lit up, you can’t see the dirt as much, so here’s hoping you’re not OCD or something. The sound coming out of the speakers is rather nice, but I would recommend headphones for sure. As for lighting, playing outside is near impossible, as the light of the world seems to dim your PS Vita so that you can’t see it very well. The Vita is certainly an in door handheld, despite Sony showing advertisements of people playing it out and about on the street. Connecting your Vita to your PC is really simple, but it does require you to download a manager for your PC which shouldn’t be too much of a problem. You actually use the USB cable you receive as a charger for your wall plug as well as the USB plug for your Vita to your PC. Clever eh? Unfortunately, you can’t charge your Vita through your PC. Damn you Sony! The first thing your Vita encourages you to do is to try out “Welcome Park”. It’s a selection of 5 mini games which show you how to work the features of the Vita itself. Some of them include Digit Chase, which is a selection of 3 mini-mini games (sounds like a weird thing to say but that’s what they are) that shows you how to work the touch features. There’s also Skate Axis, where you use the “Six-Axis tilt” feature to control a man on a skateboard whilst trying to avoid balls and earn points. These games along with 3 others really do help show you how to work your PS Vita, despite there being some tiny flaws where touch controls might not “always” respond for example (don’t worry. They’re a lot more responsive than the Japanese Vita’s used to be… I think). Using the rear touch pad (it’s a pad, not a screen) feels weird, because it’s something people are not used to; it’s unique and it’s sleek. It’s also something else that will take getting used to; some will find it easier to get used to than others. Depending on hand size, there will be moments where your hand may slip onto the rear pad, but here’s hoping you can control your hands if you know what I mean. The camera quality is… less than impressive. Photo quality isn’t that good; if you look at the image above that I took with my Vita, you can see the quality of the camera taking a picture of my posters is rather horrible. The quality increases ever so slightly when in a lit area (the picture I took was in a dark-ish area). You shouldn’t hate the PS Vita at all just because it has bad camera quality, because there’s so many other good features that beats the camera. Besides, Sony have said countless times that the PS Vita’s soul purpose is for games… but then when you think about it, what about the quality with augmented reality games when using the camera? Augmented reality isn’t exactly as I hoped it would be. With the 6 augmented reality cards you get, you get 3 free games to play that you have to install onto a memory card. The first one you get is “Tabletop Football”, where you can build your own football pitch in your very own home. The aim of the game is to score goals, just like in real football. But since it’s table football, you’re using little figurines that can only move when you flick them into position. The second game is “Fireworks”, where you’re required to tap on fireworks as they are nearing the end of their fuse. The longer you wait to burst them, the higher score you can get, but if you wait too long, you can lose your multiplier and possibly lose a life. The third game is Cliff Diving, where the aim is to guide Dan (not our Dan) into a pool of water whilst trying to get as good of a dive as possible. The problem with all of these augmented reality games is that you have to be rather close to the cards to play a game. Say if you were standing up, and you put the cards on a table, you might actually have to bend over to play a game because you might be out of range, which gets really annoying. A flaw in the camera functions for augmented reality is that you always have to play in a well lit area, so if you want to play augmented reality games during a power cut, sorry but no. You don’t even get trophies with these games either, where as you do with Welcome Park. Don’t get me wrong, whilst the PS Vita’s camera flaws and augmented reality features might be daunting, the other features of the Vita are pretty good. Near is a function I haven’t been able to try out and about, but what I’ve seen seems to have potential. One thing it does is that it allows you to see what people around you are doing (as long as their privacy details are set to public). You can also go out and about, where hopefully you might pick up something nice for your Vita, whether it be an in-game item or just some interesting details about a person. It also allows you to see what other people, including your friends, think about the games you, or they own. At first, it might seem like a small feature, but give it time, and I can see Near becoming a great feature. And Near can be used with the Wi-Fi model, or the 3G / Wi-Fi model, though it’s better on the 3G. Finally being a handheld that supports apps, your PS Vita becomes an iPhone… sort of. Whilst there aren’t many apps to download as of yet, familiar favorites such as Twitter (or LiveTweet), Facebook, Flickr and foursquare all join the PS Vita party, so now you can let your friends know where you are and what you are doing out and about with your Vita. Again such features are better with 3G, but if you can find a Wi-Fi hotspot, then you’re good. The browser is actually rather quick too. Or was that just my internet connection? As a games console, no doubt the PS Vita is truly something, with a nicely designed HUD, bright colors and sleek design. Whilst it might be the best handheld for gaming, for other things such as the Camera functionality, it’s nothing but disappointing. The price is also pretty steep, especially since you even need to buy your own memory stick which is required for pretty much every PS Vita game out there. But all on all, once you get past it’s flaws, you can’t help but love life… I mean Vita. No doubt there are some features I haven’t mentioned, such as Party, but I feel like giving you guys something to try for yourself without me telling you about it.

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About the Author

Some say I should be a video game journalist, others say a video game designer. Shame you can't be both.

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