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I purchased my Vita approximately six months ago and I'm extremely happy with it!
It's unfortunate that the Vita has largely been overlooked by the mass consumer market. Largely this is due to the popular belief that there are not many games available for the console. This couldn't be more wrong! Yes, it's true that unfortunately not many retailers stock a great range of physical games for the Vita, but looking online will open up those possibilities further. Where the Vita comes into its own, however, is through Sony's online marketplace. The Vita is a goldmine for indie games, some of which are fantastic.
With the impending release of the PS4 I believe the Vita will be pushed to be more marketable, since the majority of PS4 games will be playable via remote play on the Vita itself.
Onto the actual unit.. it's a well made, good looking, nice to hold piece of equipment. The screen quality is simply amazing. All images are crisp, bright and sharp in HD. It's fast, silent and sturdy. Buttons and thumbsticks are smooth and non-sticky. The battery life is great - you get a good 6-8 hours of playtime out of one full charge.
If you're an avid gamer, or even just a casual arcade game player, the Vita's a great piece of kit that's a joy to play. I truly don't have anything bad to say about it.
i had got this ps vita as a gift from my dad last year and i must say i've had the best portable gaming experience ever!
What i didn't like ? Well , the memory card is overpriced. You can't play great games without one
I really liked this portable console, it's great , it's like a ps3 portable!
- the sharpest, best looking display I've seen on a portable
- the dual analog sticks make all the difference
- games can be either downloaded or purchased and shared on physical media - like I said, Sony is learning from past mistakes (sorry PSP Go)
- a bunch of great multimedia apps including Netflix - I'll have more to say about these after I stop playing Uncharted :)
- cameras - more later but I heard that some games allow you to build characters that look just like you
The PS Vita is the latest in Sony's range of handheld consoles, and at a glance it's the company's best yet. In the past Nintendo had the upper hand over Sony when it came to portable gaming devices with its popular DS, but the Vita has improved on the original PSP in almost every way. Though it has its problems, the device could soon be an essential product provided some improvements are made.
The design is undeniably sleek and is one of the main refinements Sony has made over the PSP. The two most obvious new features are the two analog sticks (which is more important than most casual gamers may think) and the rear touchpad. Other than those, the Vita contains all the buttons you'd expect from a normal PlayStation controller: a D-pad, four PS face buttons, start/select buttons, and L/R buttons. Only missing are the normal L2 and R2 buttons which can be a disappointing omission, though it's a wonder how Sony could have implemented them on the device. In addition, there's no UMD slot to talk of this time; instead, physical games are in the form of small cards, inserted into a slot on the top of the Vita. Other improvements over previous Sony handhelds are smaller buttons (looking at the PSP now, it looks alien), a more curved shape, and 5" touchscreen. Lastly, gone is the arguably irksome power slider, replaced with a simple button. Now it's a simple case of tapping the button to standby, and holding to power off. Overall I'm pleased with the design of the handheld - it looks great and all the buttons are placed well. However, the rear touchpad is questionable. I'd like to be able to hold the Vita how I want, so I get quite annoyed when games utilise the touchpad forcing me to hold it in an awkward way.
Those who have experienced the PS3 and PSP for years will be in for a shock when they turn the Vita on. The XrossMediaBar has been ditched; instead, Sony has opted for LiveArea. LiveArea is made up of pages, each of which contains several bubbles. Each bubble has a certain function; click one and it may take you to your trophy list, games, settings, music, or more. Although it's a divisive new interface, I like LiveArea as it's clean, simple and easy to use. In my opinion, the only flaw with it is that you can't customise it as much as you can the XrossMediaBar on PS3. While you can choose a background for each page, there are no dynamic (moving) themes. Also, the new interface makes it easy to multitask. When you're on an application, you can click the PS button to access the LiveArea and visit another one, before closing it when desired and returning to the app you were on initially. The only limitation is that you cannot multitask with two games; say you are playing Uncharted then press PS to play LittleBigPlanet, you'll have to close Uncharted first.
Since the first PSP was released, tablets and smartphones have become a great deal more popular, so Sony has included several social applications and more in the Vita so that it can be used for many other functions beside gaming. Still, I can't say I won't ever be using my tablet again as the company has stumbled in this regard. The browser, first of all, is very disappointing. It's slow, clunky, and just doesn't work well in general. There are also a good selection of social applications to download. I've got Facebook and YouTube downloaded at the moment. The former does its job and is pretty intuitive, although in my opinion there aren't enough news stories before you need to click 'show more'. Youtube works great but there are some drawbacks; there's no thumbs up/down system, and before signing in you need to authenticate the Vita application through email before signing in. I can't speak for Skype or Twitter, as I don't use them, but it's good that they're available for download. There's also an implemented Maps feature. It's good enough but, unlike most other applications of this type on other devices, the landscape isn't taken by satellite, so the visuals are not detailed at all, mostly made up of greys and whites.
Unlike the PSP, in which you needed to purchase a camera separately, the Vita has front and rear cameras built-in. Both have 0.3 megapixels (yes, disappointing) at 640x480. The results are disappointing. Photos are really grainy and of low quality, making the cameras inferior to those on other devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab and iPhone 3G. Colours are far less vivid than most portable devices. Nevertheless, people who aren't looking for top-grade camera quality should be able to put up with it, and the sound that comes with recorded videos is of decent quality. With this and the 3DS XL, it's clear that even the best handheld consoles have a long way to go before being able to produce good cameras.
The Vita is, first and foremost, a gaming device so this will be the most positive part of my review, naturally. It uses a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 core processor with a 512MB GPU. In the case you don't know what this means: basically, it's fantastic. The visuals are close to those found in the early days of PS3 and will only get better from here. Even the most graphically demanding games run perfectly on Vita, and the fact that there are two analog sticks (in contrast to the PSP's one analog nub) means that games are a total treat to play. Below, I've included a list of the top PS Vita games, which are essential if you have the device.
UNCHARTED: GOLDEN ABYSS - set before the events of the PS3 titles, Golden Abyss is the latest game in the ultra-popular PlayStation exclusive franchise. It has great action, an exciting story and very good graphics, making it one of the best choices for adventure fans. It lacks the amazing set pieces of Uncharted 2 and 3, multiplayer is absent, and there are no bonuses. As long as you enter it not expecting the same quality of previous games, you're bound to have a fantastic time.
RAYMAN ORIGINS - I played this superb platformer a while back on PS3, and was lucky enough to get it for free on Vita with Sony's subscription service, PS Plus. It has challenging gameplay and the best art style in a game I've ever seen. Seriously, it's beautiful. A lot of games are lacking colour now so it's nice to see a change.
METAL GEAR SOLID HD COLLECTION - Unfortunately this collection only features MGS 2 and 3; Peace Walker is missing unlike it is in the console versions. Still, this is a great part of my Vita game collection. The lack of L2 and R2 has been remedied well with controls that are well suited to the device. You no longer have to hold two buttons just to aim, and you don't need to switch to the D-Pad for the sake of sneaking up on enemies. The only thing really letting it down is the omission of Peace Walker.
STEALTH INC. - A wonderful title from Curve Studios, Stealth Inc proves that indie titles are very important for gaming. Progressing through short levels split across several stages, you must sneak your way past cameras and turrets. Guided (or taunted) by projections on the wall behind, getting through levels quickly and without being spotted becomes an addiction.
HONORABLE MENTION: OLD GAMES - In addition to PS Vita titles, there are loads of PSOne and PSP games to buy from the online store. I've got plenty downloaded, from Spyro to Resident Evil and Silent Hill. Who ever thought they could play Metal Gear Solid or Tomb Raider on the bus?
I'll add that if you get a Vita, PS Plus is an essential service. For just £40 per year, you get 2 games every month plus 2 more available for download around the year. All the Vita games I mentioned above, beside Stealth Inc, were obtained through Plus. I also have Limbo, Lego Lord of the Rings, Unit 13, Gravity Rush and When Vikings Attack because of my subscription. It means you won't have to buy a single game as you'll almost always be occupied.
Unlike the PSP, the Vita let's you interact with the PS3 in many ways. You can message friends, whether are using the PS3 or a Vita, play several PS3 games through Remote Play such as God of War (in essence, you have your PS3 on your Vita) and you can look at friends' profiles. You also have the ability to look at your PS3 trophies on the go. There are lots of PlayStation social interactions too, from party chat to group messaging. To summarise I was pleased with the many ways in which the Vita is connected with PS3 and I'm sure people will be pleased with party chat which isn't available on PS3. It's apparent that the Vita will have even more interactivity with PS4, so it's likely that then will be the best time to be a Vita owner.
Overall, the Vita is a really good console but there are some improvements to be made. The design is fantastic; I particularly liked the curved shape. The buttons are laid out well and the OLED touchscreen is wonderful - it's more responsive than on most other devices I've used, and is very sharp. My only problem with the design was the rear touchpad which made holding the device awkward at times. I enjoyed the new interface, LiveArea, and the good selection of social networking applications, although browsing the internet is disappointing on the Vita. But gaming is where it really shines. It does need more absolute essentials in order for more people to buy it, but the selection now is very decent. There is also the huge downside of having to pay for memory cards. That alone is a negative, as in this day and age memory should be implemented into the device. However, they're also really expensive. A 4GB card costs around £14, while a 32GB card costs around £55. That's a massive expense, considering you can find a 640GB PS3 hard drive for £60. Plus, you can't even use cheaper, third-party cards in the device. If you can get past this big issue, however, the Vita is certainly worth purchasing.
A PS Vita with Wi-Fi can be found for £170 on Amazon. This review is also posted on Ciao under my name YoshiCheesePuff. Thanks for reading!
The PS Vita was added to the handheld gaming market in 2012 following Sony's PSP, having not owned a PSP because of bad reviews I had heard about them I researched into the Vita and although not getting one myself, my boyfriend bought a second hand one and I had a little play with it.
The Vita I found was too big for my hands but once I got it into the right position was comfortable to hold but not too easy to control, although I have got quite small hands so found it tricky. I urge you that especially if you're buying the console for a child to visit a store and let them hold it first to see if it's going to be ok for them.
The vita has a responsive touch screen on the front and a touch panel on the back of the console to be used at certain points in some games, the back panel does take some getting used to but once you've sussed it out it really adds to the gameplay and is a really clever feature which sets it aside from other handheld consoles. You aren't provided with a stylus and use fingers to play the games which leads to a lot of smudging on the screen and consequently lots of cleaning.
The graphics are really sharp and up to date and the screen is big enough to enhance the detail of the games. The button operation is smooth and uses the same sort of controls as a PS3 controller; you have two thumbsticks which allows for more accurate gameplay.
There are two versions of the Vita available, the 3G version or the WIFI version, my boyfriend decided to buy the WIFI version as it was a lot cheaper and he didn't feel he would have much use for the 3G. You can download apps including the PS Store app where you can download classic PSP, PS2 and PS1 games, some of the ones we have downloaded include Toy Story Racer, Final Fantasy and Crash Bandicoot. You can also download demos for upcoming or existing PS Vita games as well as music and films. You can also transfer music and photos from your PC onto the console and use your own photo as the wallpaper.
The battery life is good as long as you're not constantly connected to the WIFI and the sound quality is good for little speakers and is a lot better than other handheld consoles such as the Nintendo 3DS.
Another good feature is that if you have a PS3 and an account on this then you can link the account on your Vita to this and earn trophies to add to your collection.
At the moment the games that you can buy are limited but hopefully they will release more in the future and the memory cards that you need to buy for the PS Vita are very expensive, you can pick them up slightly cheaper online but as their specialised are costly.
Overall a great addition to the handheld console market.
An experience mirroring that of the one you experience on your television screen is a dream many gamer has had at one time or another. The PSP Vita can provide this experience with the use of a nifty little OLED screen and unlike similiar handhelds the experience is improved with the use of two analog sticks. The responsiveness of these sticks allows for precise movement which is a commodity lost with most other handhelds and mobile devices. Unfortunately a lack of quality games to accompany the device holds it back from being a truly fantastic device which every gamer should have in their inventory which is unfortunate because of the power it holds graphically. The vita also has a rather mediocre camera which will probably be used for augmented reality activities in the future. Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about the vita when compared to its ancestors is the need for a Sony made memory stick, making cheap memory sticks a thing of the past. Overall the vita is a fantastic piece of hardware, only hindered by the absence of games to play on it.
Whilst I was a huge fan of the original PSP, the newest installment in Sony's line of portable gaming products falls short of its revolutionary predecessor.
I bought the system around Christmas 2012 which cost around £220 including two games and a case which I bought separately (wifi model with 4gb memory card). In hindsight I should have just bought a PS3 as for £140 i could have picked up a 12 gb standard console but oh well... retrospect is a wonderful thing!
So why is the system so disappointing?
- Poor game catalogue - there is very little variety and in general the gameplay feels clunky and difficult to control in comparisson to their PS3 counterparts. (I was excited for Assassin's Creed Liberation but all I can express is disappointment really).
- Augmented reality is pointless - just a gimmick they added on to the system much like on the 3ds.
- Have to use unique memory cards and cables - cannot use standard items you have to use PS Vita specific peripherals... which are expensive!!
- 4gb version is simply NOT ENOUGH when you want to play more than one game. For example, I bought Assassins Creed Liberation and it required almost 4 gb of memory to install... couldn't install another game at the same time until I bought another memory card!
One thing I do love about the Vita is the back-catalogue of old ps one games you can download from the Sony Network digital store... my advice though, if you really want to do this just buy a PSP or PSP go, connect it to your wifi and download from there... If I had known this before I wouldn't have shelled out £200+.
The Vita was released to little fanfare back in February 2012. It was almost released reluctantly such was the lack of marketing behind the product, you would be completely forgiven to not even know that a sequel to the moderately successful PSP was coming out.
It seems that Sony's lack of confidence in its own product has led to its own poor sales. The Vita has under performed drastically, probably due to there not really being much of a market for it. For hardcore gamers, there is undeniably a lot of potential in this unit, but a complete lack of games for the hardcore gamer, makes it very difficult to recommend. For anyone wanting a more casual experience, you would be better off sticking with smart phones or tablets, which have a much larger store for these types of games.
The User Interface is completely different to any other Sony product, meaning that users will once again have to adapt and get used to a new interface that would appear to have not had a great deal of user testing - it is quite horrible. Add to that the fact that you can only use Vita memory cards and Vita's own charging cables, it is quite clear that Sony has no interest in allowing its users the luxury of being able to use their existing products with their Vita.
It is becoming increasingly clear that software support for Vita is very low and that the latest smartphones are already out-doing the vita for both performance and screen quality and hence there is very little to recommend here.
This console is very much a console experience that you can take anywhere. The vita uses game cards to play games on which you can buy from most good retailers but you can also connect the vita to your exisiting psn account or create a new one from scratch ofcourse. This allows you to download games for your vita but as the vita has trophy support you can also add shiny new trophies to your collection playing games on the move.
Sony have also released apps for the vita, these can be found in the social tab of the playstation store. Some apps such as "near" come pre installed.
The vita has a front touch screen which is incredible responsive however it can be hard to keep clean from greasy fingers. The vita also has a rear touch pad but i have only seen the game "little deviants" make much use of this feature so far. There is also a gyroscope, and gps built into the device.
With the dual analogue sticks it feels very much as powerful as the playstation three at times and it definitely the best hand held experience out there.
The PS Vita is the successor to the extremely popular PSP released by SONY a few years back. It does everything the PSP did but better, with a wide array of new and exciting games on release (Uncharted!) and 100's of extras including a browser, online play etc it is well worthy of purchasing. Currently, the price is still high but I'm sure within a few months the price will drop. As with all SONY products the Vita feels professionally made, very sturdy and easy to use. The only downside in my opinion is the separate memory card that must be purchased alongside the console which can be a nuisance but I suppose it is only a one time purchase. Clearly, the Vita is mostly used for when one cannot access a home console and is on the move BUT with the great quality of games it could very quickly become your main system. With easy sync to the Playstation 3, it makes using the console a whizz!
Good console, the graphics are astonishing; the games compare to PS3 titles. The screen is also amazing it is bright and clear; the colors are amazing the blacks are very black. The PS VITA feels great in the hand; it is quite heavier than the PSP and also bigger than the PSP. The console has great sound; the speakers are clear and are also loud great for listening to music. The screen is perfect for viewing images and videos. The console has a built in camera; the camera quality is not good it is mainly used for augmented reality games such as Reality Fighters, the camera can be used to take images and also record video. The camera has NO flash. The PS VITA does not use the XMB interface used by the PSP it uses a brand new interface which is suitable for the touch screen of the PS vita. The PS VITA has a built in browser; the text looks amazing on web-pages due to the screen however you cannot watch YouTube videos as flash is not supported (this maybe introduced in a later update). I brought the 3G version there is not much different between the 3G and WIFI version; the 3G version allows you to browser the web on the go and has GPS which the WIFI only does not have. You are not able to play games online using 3G.
The word 'Vita' means Life and with this console, Sony have breathed new life into their handheld market. The Sony PSP had died a death, with most high street retailers not stocking new releases, nor consoles. Their final attempt at the PSP model was the ill-fated PSP Go! which boasted a flip-screen and internal memory to download games from the PlayStation Store, rather than using UMDs to play games. The failure of this console proved that the game-playing public wanted a handheld device that not only had online-support and the ability to purchase games online, but also support physical copies of video games which could be bought from traditional retailers.
The Vita manages to strike this balance with its use of WiFi + 3G networks to promote online gaming & purchases, but it also continues to use physical media in the form of it's Vita game-cards, which can be bought in your local retailers. I personally prefer to use the game-cards for the larger releases, but purchase smaller app-sized games to store onto my machine.
Another way that the Vita improves upon its predecessor (and its competitor, the Nintendo 3DS) is with the inclusion of a secondary thumbstick, which gives the control system a more closely aligned fit to the current home consoles. Playing third-person adventure games with both analog thumbsticks allows the player to direct both the camera and their character seamlessly. Gone are the problems of auto-camera angles giving the player the most awkward point-of-view of their surroundings. These thumbsticks also allow first-person shooters, along the lines of Call of Duty and Battlefield, to be played without compromising on the controls. I'm surprised it has taken this long for a handheld console to be designed this well.
The Vita also boasts touch-screen support, with both a front and back touch-screen area. The back touch-screen seemed to be overkill, in my opinion, before I actually got a hands-on with the machine, but playing through games like, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, I realised how useful it can be to zoom in on areas, without obscuring your view of the actual screen. With the addition of touch-screen, there is the increased risks of fingerprints and smudging, so I would recommend investing in some cleaning cloths to maintain the condition of your screens. I wouldn't use plastic screen-protectors personally, as these tend to make the screen look cloudy and smeared anyway, but this is a personal preference.
The console has a nice silver finish along the top, where the volume buttons are housed, as well as the power button. These look similar to the iPhones buttons and are sturdy and secure, ensuring that there won't be any problems with broken buttons anytime soon. There is also a stand-by button that uses the Playstation logo and glows blue or orange, depending on whether the machine is on charge or not, and this allows you to suspend the game's progress and also acts as a 'home' button to return to the consoles menu.
The menu system on the Vita differs from the XMB crossbar used on the PSP & PS3, and looks reminiscent of a mobile phone handset, with customisable menus and bubbles containing your apps and installed games. Each screen can hold 10 buttons, and multiple screens can be created for you to scroll across. I have tried to organise my screens by app types, but some people might be happy to let them all jumble together. I think I prefer the XMB approach, as it looked cleaner and was easier to locate my items, whereas this has the potential to become cluttered once more games are released, plus it took some getting used to where certain settings were.
Some of the pre-installed software that comes with the machine is NEAR, which is a way for you to connect with local users and transfer game goods (which are unlockable extras for various games) as well as discover new friends. I've found this to be a bit temperamental in use, so far managing to download a handful of game goods, but it tends to result in error messages moreso than successes, but this could be my Wi-Fi causing issues.
There is also an app for the PS Store, which features Vita-exclusive products to download, such as classic PSP games and minis, which are app-sized games for a pocket-money sized budget. I have used the store to download some demos for upcoming releases, Unit 13 & Rayman Origins, but these did take a long time to download, again possibly due to my Wi-Fi. There is also a Video Store, where you can rent or buy new film releases or TV shows, but the prices leave a lot to be desired. I probably won't use this function, unless the prices begin to drop or there are special offers on certain films. This high-priced content is not exclusive to the Vita, as all consoles offer this extortionately priced movie downloads.
Luckily, if you aren't prepared to pay over the odds for your movie content, you can transfer data from your PS3 or PC to playback on your Vita. With so many Blu-Ray releases featuring digital copies, you can copy your new release onto your PC for easy-transfer to the PS Vita to watch on the move. There is also the ability to transfer music and photos to use onto your Vita, which allows for more customisation of the machine, including wallpaper screens.
The battery life is fairly long, lasting between 6 - 8 hours, depending on whether you are using the Wi-Fi elements a lot, or playing games non-stop. I can get two or three days commute out of the machine, and have even found a way to access the Wi-Fi using my mobile phone's Wi-Fi hotspot function, thus bypassing the need for the 3G support that the higher model possesses.
Overall, I think this is a near-perfect games console that bridges the gap between portable and home consoles, both in terms of graphics and controls. This is everything that the original PSP should have been, and I hope for Sony's sake that they can maintain the developers support and push this console into the limelight and make it succeed.
This Review also appears on Ciao under the same username.
Design and Appearance
It's another year and that means another console, the PS vita is currently the most advanced handheld console on the market today. The vita is an upgraded version of the PSP and at first glance this looks very similar like you would expect it to. The vita is a lot bigger and bulkier than the PSP but it strangely doesn't feel enormous and it's surprisingly lightweight. The casing is curvy which makes it fit better in your palms and feel comfier, vita measures 7.2 inches across which makes this the biggest handheld yet. The screen itself if 5 inches so this takes up most of the space, it's in the middle so it leaves 1.2 inches either side of the screen for the other controls. To the left of the screen you'll find the classic Sony D-Pad, a left analogue stick, a left speaker and the PS Home button. To the right you'll find your classic PlayStation triangle, circle, square and X buttons, as well as a right analogue stick, right speaker along with the start and select button. On the top of the vita are the left and right buttons along with the on/off button and volume control. On the back is the camera and touchpad. On the bottom of the console is there charger port, a port to connect to a PS3, a headphone port and a memory card slot. The buttons to the front to me feel a little cramped and too close together but it is something you start to adjust to. On the back there are two wide finger grooves to hold onto your vita so you don't drop it. When holding it you can tell that it's made of a sturdy plastic and doesn't really cheap so you know it's been made well.
On the right side you have the D pad and the left analogue stick; these are of course for you to move around in games whether it's a driving game or a platform game, this is what you use to move but every game is different and you can always check on the controls of the game to see which ones are which and what they're for. On the right side you have your shapes buttons; these like most games will either first something or allow you to do a specific move like jump. The select and start button is underneath this and this is the only uncomfortable thing about the controls, I often found I would press one by accident or they would just get in the way especially when I was getting annoyed at a game, perhaps if they made the screen slightly smaller it would leave more room for comfortable buttons and space to move around.
The screen measures 5 inches wide and takes up the majority of the space on the vita, this is handy and annoying at the same time. Handy because it means we can see more of a picture in the game and is useful when taking pictures because it makes them clearer and again it's annoying because it doesn't leave much room for the buttons. However it is without a doubt the best screen on a handheld console yet. The screen has a resolution of 960x544, the screen enhances darker areas in games, videos and pictures making them more visible, crisp, sharp and vibrant. The screen is also touch screen which is one of the main features of the vita but because of this I found I had to keep wiping the smudges off often, not because my hands are dirty, but just because that's what happens.
Start up and set up.
The on/off button is located on top of the vita, once it's turned on the "set up wizard" screen will come up where you sort out the location, time and date and also you can put in your playstation account details if you have them or join up if you do, I don't and I'm not interested in any addition features I could get if I joined I simply want to play the games that I buy. Once you've done all the set up you get an option to play a mini game called "welcome park" which is a tutorial type game and will come in handy to help you use the vita. Next the touch screen option will come up similar to a phone's app display in little bubble forms. Just tap on the app you wish to open or on the app menu just run your finger up and down to scroll through the apps. If you have an Iphone or another touch screen phone you'll be able to figure this out in no time but for someone like me who has a blackberry, touch screen with apps annoys me because it takes too long to get used to, the apps don't open instantly I found they was delayed by a few seconds so perhaps on sony's new handheld after this they will weak that a little bit so it's faster.
Games are available in both cartridge and download form which is helpful to everyone because not everyone likes to download them, because this does not have an internal memory you need to buy a memory card yourself so I prefer the cartridges rather than downloads because I don't have a memory card yet. I only have the batman arkham city game because someone bought me it along with the vita, I found that the graphics were nowhere near as good as the PS3 but the quality was still brilliant, the screen kept up with all movements without any delays or any laggings if you're doing a lot of fast things at once.
I could ramble on about other features it has but I haven't explored this much because I simply don't like playing on it so I haven't explored it much. I only have the one game because the PS VITA games are around £40 and I would rather pay £40 for a ps3 game than a vita game because they have more to offer. The graphics of the games are brilliant and almost life like on some games I've seen. Another bad point about this is that it has no internal memory so you don't have a choice but to buy a memory card and I don't dare look at how much they will be either. This was around £280 so I am told. (I never bought me it) I would recommend this to a love of handheld consoles but personally I'll stick with my game boy colour and the retro classics.
Note: This is a pretty lengthy review, if you'd prefer a bitesize version then I'll be summing up in a few hundred words at the end.
Ah! Another year, another game's console. The PS Vita launched at the end of February and is Sony's successor to their PSP console. The device retails at around £230 for the Wi-Fi model and £280 for the 3G version, but if you shop around you can beat those prices by at least £20. This review will not cover the features of the 3G model, but I will cover why I chose the Wi-Fi model.
In marketing the PS Vita, Sony have boasted of some of the best graphics on a handheld device as well as two analogue sticks and double touch inputs. The Vita is being pitched as a real gamer's device, and retailing at the same as the 3DS did at launch, Nintendo could be looking at some serious competition if the device lives up to Sony's claims. After taking the time to play about with it as much as possible, I'm ready to give my thoughts and they're mostly very positive.
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Construction and Quality
At first glance the device looks a lot like a PSP. It's somewhat bigger and sits comfortably in a two handed grip. The central feature is the big shiny screen which is larger than most phones and takes up most of the face. Either side are the D-Pad and face buttons to match any Playstation controller along with the two little analogue sticks which are much smaller than they seem in pictures. Honestly, the buttons feel a little cramped but it doesn't take too long to adjust. The front also contains the Start, Select and PS button generally used for OS and Menu functions. I can't say they're particularly well placed, they're stuck on the sides and you really have to break from what you're doing to use them, but you're rarely going to need to find them in a second so it's tolerable.
On the back there are two wide grooves to rest your fingers and the touch pad which has a nice Triangle, Square, Circle, Cross motif from the Playstation brand. Presumably the grooves are to stop your fingers trailing onto the rear touchpad when you don't want them too, but I find them a bit close to the edges. The device feels rock solid and the plastic doesn't seem cheap or tacky. Games consoles rarely look as premium as Apple devices or expensive phones, and this is no exception, but among gaming handhelds this is pretty tidy and sharp.
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A lot of reviewers have raved about the PS Vita's screen and I'm going to join them. It is, without a doubt, the best screen ever seen on a handheld device and beats a lot of pricey phones and tablets too. It uses a five inch OLED screen with a resolution of 960x544. While this is still less than HD's minimum resolution of 720p, on a five inch screen it is beautiful. However, where it really shines is in black levels and colour. This screen is plainly gorgeous, in my first few days I loaded a few videos and photos onto it and all looked dramatically improved. It is vibrant, sharp and responsive with none of the smearing that ruined the early PSP models. Anything you run through it will look beautiful. The only drawback is that you'll have to continually wipe your smudgy fingermarks from it.
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User Interface and Basic Features
Firstly, I think it has to be said that the PS Vita is one of the few devices to really surprise me once I got it into my hands. If you have asked me to describe the Vita before launch I would have told you it was a modern incarnation of the PSP, a handheld gaming device with some added touch inputs and two analogue sticks. It's incredible how much you perception of the device changes once you have a little play with it. I'd now say the PS Vita is a very competent iPhone style device with PSP style controls fitted to the sides. The distinction between those two descriptions might seem subtle, but it actually changes the whole philosophy of the device once you get it booted up.
Upon starting you'll be greeted to the usual Mobile device setup wizard everything seems to have these days. Name, timezone, location etc. and you'll also be prompted to put in your Playstation Network details if you have an account. If not, it's worth signing up for one as some of the Vita's best features use it. More on that later. When you're done setting up and you get into the system it'll request you play a little game called Welcome Park. It's basically a collection of tutorial minigames that cover the various Vita control options and is worth doing.
Once you're done and ready to explore, you'll find an OS that's similar to a lot of touch devices now. If you're used to navigating a PSP or PS3, the familiar XMB is gone and instead is a touch screen, App desktop type display. Instead of the familiar little squares of an iPhone, you're got the Vita's bubbles, but everything else works the same. Tap a bubble to launch an App, swipe down to see more pages of Apps, swipe right to see Apps currently running. You will never use the analogue sticks or D-Pad for navigating the OS, this is a touch device at its heart.
Anyone who has used an iPhone or Android phone will probably be up and running in no time, but there's a downside. While it emulates modern touch operating systems, it's not as smooth or simple. There's always a little too much on the screen when you really start using it and you have to view a sort of splash page before you launch any app. These pages aren't too bad as they give you the buttons for user manuals and websites and other extras, but often you just want to launch into an app without the extra steps.
I don't want to sound too down on it, everything works well and you can navigate to anything without too much hassle, but it's hard to shake the feeling that this is a sort of B-List iOS. In some respects, this is a good thing. It is far more suitable for the device than the XMB and it's far ahead of the fiddly, slow interface on the 3DS. For those who have never used similar devices, it might be a revelation, for everyone else it's functional but cheap.
On the plus side, there are lots of extras hidden away without remembering button combinations. A lot of the time, simply holding a finger on the touch screen will reveal extra settings related to whatever you're currently doing. Often these will contain helpful tweaks or customisation options.
The device features two cameras, mostly for AR games and video chat though you can take pictures. They're really feeble quality though and probably won't see much use.
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Games and Gaming
I don't want to delve too far into details of specific games as I think they'd be better served in separate reviews, however I think it's important to discuss the PS Vita's capabilities as a gaming device in at least a general sense. The device runs Vita games from a cartridge or download, it also runs downloadable PSP games. At launch all games are available as both physical copies and downloads, some games also have cross compatibility with the PS3, allowing you to buy the game once and play it on both systems. This includes the ability to share your progress across both versions. You can start a game on your PS3 in the morning, switch to the Vita on your bus ride into work and then sync up and finish on the PS3 in the evening. This is a great arrangement that makes the PS Vita better value to anyone who already owns a PS3.
Games themselves are wonderful to play on the Vita and the much touted hardware power shines through. The very popular Uncharted series on the PS3 has sprouted on the Vita with Uncharted: Golden Abyss as a launch title. On the PS3 the series is known for its incredible graphics and while Uncharted on the Vita doesn't look as good, it's hard to believe just how close it gets. This is a monster of a handheld, capable of games that really do look as good as a lot of home console games.
But, looks aren't everything, and the Vita really delivers when it comes to controls. How well a game controls will always differ from title to title, but the Vita offers some very nice analogue sticks that work as well as most I've used. I wouldn't say they're drastically better than the 3DS Circle Pad, but they're definitely an improvement. The console also makes use of touch inputs on the front and back. Altogether, the console offers a variety of inputs that felt comfortable and responsive in most of the games I've tested.
One in particular, Motorstorm RC, makes use of the dual analogue sticks almost exclusively. It also handles well, looks great and connects with the PS3. At £4.79 it is easily one of the Vita's best value titles, as well as the most fun. Most titles are priced at the same as PS3 and Xbox 360 titles, but if Sony can keep offering great titles on PS3 and Vita for less than a fiver, this console has a bright future.
Overall, games will vary, but your experience with the Vita will probably only be limited by the time it takes you to adjust to its layout. It offers controls for both action packed giant games and small iPhone style touch apps, and both seem to work equally well. It seems sometimes you can please everyone.
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PSP Backwards Compatibility
If you're an owner of a PSP or PSPGo system then the Vita will also play your PSP games. However, it has no UMD drive and so is limited to games downloaded from the store. The selection on the store is good, but not great, and you'll find some favourites are missing. However, if you already have a library of titles in your download list, the Vita does a great job with these games.
The Vita's screen is so much better than any PSP that it's almost hard to believe. If you're upgrading from a PSP or PSP 2000 you might not believe you're playing the same game. Colours are stark and without the aggressive smudging, you'll probably find your PSP games looked better than you thought they did. The Vita screen is also exactly four times the resolution of the PSP which means there are no scaling errors. Things can be a bit pixellated however. Included in the options is a "bilinear filter" which tried to scale the picture a bit more intelligently. It improves some games and not others, but it's easy enough to switch on and off so you can play it by ear.
The Vita also allows you to map the right analogue stick to different PSP controls. Often on the PSP shooter titles would operate by having the player walk with the analogue stick and look around with the face buttons, now you can get a basic dual-analogue setup in these games. It's not perfect, but it's much better than the alternative.
Backwards compatibility really helps a console feel more full at launch. Including a UMD drive would never have been a good idea, but I'm glad they've worked so well to get the Vita playing nice with downloadable PSP titles.
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Like most portable devices today, the Vita will play music and video. Transferring can be a bit fiddly though and requires installing a programme called Content Assistant onto your computer. This software doesn't work like iTunes or the PSP's MediaGo though, and just lets you pick a folder where your Vita can look for media. The transferring is all done on the Vita and is easy enough to do, though transfers are a bit slow. Music is easy enough with most popular formats support. Sound quality is reasonable through the Vita's little speakers, but better through headphones. The Vita also does a good job with metadata like Artist, Album, Song and Covers. It's a fairly nice device to listen to music on, but it's not going to replace anyone's iPod. However, as an added bonus, any music on the device can be used as a custom soundtrack for your games. Personally, I don't use custom soundtracks, but I know a lot of people will like the option.
As for video, things get a bit more tricky. Technically, you can put video on the Vita and it looks absolutely beautiful when it's on there. The only problem is that the Vita will only take one kind of video, .MP4 and as most people in the world work with .avi for SD content and .mkv for HD, you're going to need to do some converting. There's software out there to do it, but if you don't know what you're doing it can be an unpleasant job. It's a real shame considering how decent the movie player app is and the quality of the screen on top of it. Of course, you can also download films and TV shows from the Playstation Store, but I find the prices quite repugnant.
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With the Vita Sony have tried hard to correct a lot of the mistakes they made with the PS3. Online is prioritised right out of the box and features a lot of really good features. You can chat to any Vita owner in your friend's list no matter what else you're doing on the console. Online play is supported and seems to work quite well. The device even includes Trophy support on all its games, something that was very much missing on the PSP.
You can also download social apps like Facebook or Twitter. These work well and are much better than trying to use the Vita's browser which is not so well designed. There's really not that much to say about Online features, save that they work. That's great, but it's really to be expected now.
If you decide to buy a 3G Vita, you'll have some extra options. There's a Foursquare app on the store which is a bit pointless for the Wi-Fi model, but very handy with 3G. The Vita also features an app called Near which tells you about other Vita users nearby and what they're doing. You don't have to share with Near, but if you do it will let you make friends and swap data etc. This works on the Wi-Fi model but only when you're connected so unless Vita users start crowding the Wi-Fi hotspots it's a bit useless.
However, the 3G Vita is only really useful for these little updates. You can check messages, use the social apps and brows a bit, but you can't download from the store or play online. As with most 3G devices, in my opinion, the benefits are very nice, but won't really justify the extra cost until 3G bandwidth increases and prices drop.
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If I've made the Vita sound like a great little device the good, it is. It's a great balance between powerful gaming device and portable gadget. However, there's a negative that looms over the Vita. The device itself is great, but it features no internal storage. You have to buy memory cards. These memory cards are small, expensive and proprietary. This is no optional extra either. To play games, buy apps, take pictures, you're going to have to buy a memory card. Games don't save to their cartridge they save to a card, plenty won't even play without a card in the machine. Despite being largely the same as SD cards in construction, Sony want you to buy their special shaped branded cards with the cheapest being around £15 and only 4gb. The largest in the UK, the 16gb is around £40. This is unfair and expensive. A comparable SD card would cost around half that. While Sony claim this is motivated by a need for parity between users, with everyone operating from a fast enough class of card, Sony's own cards have been tested and they are miserably slow. It's a cash grab, plain a simple.
Furthermore, it fundamentally weakens the whole device. Sony have made a tremendous push into digital distribution with this console, and yet the biggest memory card available in this country would be maxed out in no time. Games aren't small, and if you want to put on some music or a film, you're going to be even more tightly squeezed. The 4GB stick is expensive and practically useless, I made the mistake of thinking it would be sufficient and filled it with one small Vita game, a PSP game and an episode of Doctor Who which I'd already compressed quite some way.
It's a real shame that will do a lot of hard to a device that could do so well with 2GB of built in memory, and slightly cheaper memory cards. This would satisfy people would are just going to buy games on cartridge not download, and make Sony seem less harsh to those of us who want to download.
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Is the Vita a good device? Yes. It's a very nice touch screen device that feels a like a reasonable, if slightly cheap, alternative to iOS or Android devices. Its got a lot of functionality including cameras, facebook, twitter, good online services and more. On top of all that, it's built into a real gamer's shell with great control inputs. The variety between all the different ways to play should please most people, and while the device doesn't sit as nicely in the hand as an iPhone, it's still comfortable. The highlight of the device is its stunning screen which makes gameplay, video playback and just using the device an absolute pleasure.
The games themselves are great, looking like real big budget titles that really impress. Together with the more App style games and the cross compatibility with the PS3, the Vita is a device that offers a lot to gamers. Particularly those who already own other Sony products. If you have a back catalogue of PSP games and videos from the Playstation Store, you're going to be able to use a lot of those on this device. It really feels like an extension of your PS3.
Media functions are nice, but a little limited by video formats. If you put the work in to get stuff onto the device, viewing and listening is a pleasant experience.
However, overshadowing everything is the lack of internal storage and the hight price of mandatory memory cards. The system is pretty much unusable without one, and it could easily have been made to support SD cards. It inflates the price and if you buy a smaller card you're forever going to be swapping games in and out which is not something you can do quickly. It's a cheap move by Sony that really spoils an otherwise excellent all round effort.
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