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Sony PlayStation Vita

PS Vita

North American Release:  February 22nd, 2012

Sony became an overnight powerhouse after the release of the PlayStation and continues to assert its place in today’s gaming market.  A few years ago they opted into the handheld market with the PlayStation Portable (PSP) which a surprising number of people have never even heard of.  Vastly improving on the PSP, the PS Vita was released early last year and unfortunately not too many people have heard of it either.  Nintendo continues to hold a near monopoly on handhelds, but more people out there really should check out the PS Vita.  Ok, so there’s no stereoscopic 3D, but in every other way the PSV is the more powerful of the two.

The PS Vita boasts a large 5 inch organic LED widescreen allowing for a superb view.  In fact, the unit itself is only a little over 7 inches wide so most of the front surface is dedicated to the best screen that handhelds have ever seen.  The touch capacity is as advanced as any high-tech smartphone allowing for simple and intuitive interface.  Most amazing is the touch pad on the back.  One can use the fingers of either hand to touch the back of the unit (which just feels like hard plastic) and touch corresponds with the area on the front screen when applicable.  Two rear speakers provide awesome audio able to project sound louder than most people will even need.  The PSV features 2 cameras, one on the front and one on the back, as well as a three-axis gyroscope and three-axis accelerometer.  A joystick is located on either side of the screen and these beauties couldn’t possibly be more responsive.  Additional controls include the standard PlayStation set up with the four “shape” buttons, a D-pad, and L and R shoulder buttons, with the obligatory Start and Select and the PS Button acting as a sort of Home button.

Software is handled by small cards similar in size to an SD card as is the internal memory, or games can be downloaded directly from the PlayStation Network.  Two versions exist, one with 3G and WiFi, the other with WiFi only.  The PSV also has Sony’s Remote Play capability allowing for the PS3’s video and audio input to be received by the unit and played by the user.  Although this is only available on select PS3 titles, Sony has recently announced that they intend for this to be a feature on nearly all PS4 games.

People are always going to complain about battery life, but I think the Vita holds up fairly well.  Even with WiFi/3G on, volume up, and brightness up, the PSV should be able to give a good 3 hours of gameplay.  The unit feels great in the hands unlike Nintendo’s 3DS, and the menu screens are handled in the familiar and easy to navigate manner similar to current phones.  Graphics are crisp with zero defects and sound is crystal clear.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the 3DS, but that’s really where the comparison lies.  PSV gets the points for the giant screen which slightly outweighs the intended functionality of Nintendo’s dual screens.  PSV might not have 3D, but personally I rarely use the 3DS’s 3D ability.  The units can reach roughly equal loudness, but I give the PSV a slight edge in quality.  The control scheme of the Vita is also a bit more refined and precise, especially with the dual joysticks.  Although there is the Circle Pad Pro (which adds an extra control pad to the 3DS on the right side) available for the 3DS its functionality within games is very, very limited compared to the large number of Vita games designed around 2 joysticks.  It’s also a nice step up from the bizarre nub of the PSP.

So, what about the drawbacks?  Although they are few, they’re certainly important.  First is the issue of portability.  The 3DS is simple to fold up (automatically suspending any software running) whereas anyone would be hesitant to shove the PSV into their pocket.  It’s a larger unit, doesn’t fold up, and most importantly doesn’t have any inherent way of protecting the screen unlike the 3DS.  The only real solution is to purchase a case for the PSV, rendering it far too bulky to just stick in a pocket.  Secondly, the Vita just can’t come close to the number of quality titles available for the 3DS.  There are some really important games hitting the 3DS, relevant enough to buy a 3DS just to be able to play these titles.  The PSV doesn’t seem to be aiming so high as there’s not a strong enough selection of exclusive games worth owning the handheld for.  Sure, it’s worth owning because it’s a badass machine, it just doesn’t have the advantage of having a hugely visible library of very well done games.

I love the PSV, but honestly I play the 3DS more.  To put it into perspective, I have over 20 3DS games and only 5 for the Vita.  Hopefully Sony will continue to push this device as more than just the PS4’s answer to the Wii U‘s gamepad, but right now it’s looking kind of like a bloated smart phone.  The fact that Angry Birds hit all major systems except for the PSV doesn’t bode well, especially since the Vita’s screen is wonderfully conducive to the gameplay in Angry Birds.  The price may be a little steep for everyone to just go out and pick one up, but for the sake of technology, this is amazing chunk of  plastic and metal.

Reviewed by The Cubist

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist

Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

Email me anytime, about anything:

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