PS Vita First Impressions
After quite a few years of visually striking decline of Sony’s handheld device, the successor to the PSP is here since February 22nd. The PS Vita, symbolizing a new and fresh start for the struggling company on the portable market, drops in but with more frowns than bows (get it?).
The console, at first sight, is very impressionable. Looks elegant, its size is not as encumbering as one would think and the graphics are pretty mind-blowing for something so, well, portable. The controls are very slick, and the analog sticks are my favorite thing is this little guy. They’re very snug and comfortable enough so that your thumbs will never cramp nor slip away from. Accompanied by its beautiful and very responsive 5-inch touch OLED screen, it just does the console justice to have a proper display for the types of games it’s able to support. The Wi-Fi version is retailed at 249$ and the 3G version at 299$ plus a plan with the carrier that supports a monthly/annual fee (Wi-Fi is strongly recommended).
But that’s what everybody already knew at this point and even 2 weeks ago, right before the launch. Now for the negative portion of the article, let’s display some of the obvious cons, which should make you slap your wallet on your head hard enough for you to justify and be conscious about your future investment.
First off, only one user is permitted to have access to one memory card made especially for the Vita. So, no recycling your old Memory Sticks, this is a new type of ball game. Meaning a second user would want to share your console, that person would need to have a memory card of his own and each a PSN account (but that’s a given). Prices for accessories are a bit steep, considering you will be using those specific cards only for this handheld, starting at 19.98$ for 4GB up to 99$ for a 32GB, online prices. And users having created an account on the system itself, would need to restore all the system settings if they would eventually switch it or just swap it.
Then you have your games, that average from 29$ to 49$. Let’s take Uncharted: Golden Abyss, an obvious exclusive to the Vita (for people who may not be familiar with first-party titles), which retails for the highest price that is 49$. So you’re putting all that dough for an unique experience and story line that you will only be able to unravel on your tiny handheld. Same price as a full-fledged 360 or PS3 title, which you will be able to enjoy on a full screen. “But you can play your Vita games through a PS3 connection onto your TV!”, you might say, which is a very compelling point. Sure, if you’re fine with the fact that you just “splurged” on a 300$ controller, cause it’s all the sane justification you’ll find in that case. But then again, if you’re fine with the price and the whole experience that the game deserves, so far, you’re good. If we also take Rayman Origins, also one of the Vita launching titles that retails for 39$, you’re looking into the same game that was release on all the current consoles this past holiday season and now dropped to the mere 20$ price-range. So instead of playing a fun and cheap co-op adventure on your comfy couch with your better half (which could be a best friend, give or take) you’ll pay a bit more to have something to play on the go, on a console with a 5-hour battery span, at the mostest (real word by the way). Which,as a reminder, 5 hours, is nothing for a device. This little sucker sucks battery like crazy (sounds cute said like that).
Of course, the lineup for the game release is increasing and more developers are taking advantage of the innovative game play design thanks to the touch screen and the rear touch pad. That’s one other thing I was bitterly surprised with is the UI (user interface). Since there are so many ways one would be accustomed to navigate a system, this doesn’t really come naturally. Sony stepped out of the comfort zone and finally changed their universal UI they had for a long time and unified all the products, and not necessarily for the worst, but few adjustments would be welcomed. For example, you have the Vita on your grip and for either pausing a game, changing menu or selecting whatever, you can’t use the directional arrows nor the analog sticks, making you readjusting to use the touch screen. It’s not the biggest problem, but you would think something so simple would be made it so seamless that it would be more intuitive, instead of struggling for not dropping it.
Oh, and now, the Vita supports texts messaging. Because, you know, we don’t already have enough gadgets that already do that in our social-media-governed life.
It’s not a bad console, but when the first Japanese release came, the Vita had so many issues and complaints that a price drop was predicted to happen close after the US release. I doubt it’s worth the 249$, especially for the type of gaming you will do on it. We all have smart phones, tablets or better, books and e-readers to kill off that time we have during bus rides or while we eat lunch at the cafeteria during our lunch break. My opinion is to maybe wait and judge on how much time you wanna spend in front of screens in a day no matter what the size.
What do you think: Would you buy one or hold off? Vita users and techies are free to comment below and share your impressions of the console below.
Picture by Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.