WiFi Vita Review
A hands on with Sony’s latest handheld.I am a relatively early adopter of Sony’s stellar handheld console, receiving it as a birthday present within the first few weeks of release. If I am being honest, I wasn’t entirely convinced I wanted one. I had owned the original PSP since release, and even though I loved it at the time, and for a couple of years afterwards, it had spent the last two or three years gathering dust in a cupboard. Add to that the high price tag, and it wasn’t easy to justify the £270 outlay for the console, memory card, game and accessories.
However, after using the machine for the last few weeks, I have to say I love it. Absolutely love it. It is slimmer than the first PSP, but has a larger surface area. The screen is an absolute delight, bright colours and sharp HD visuals jumping out of the display. It feels comfortable in the hand, and even after a lengthy play session it doesn’t leave you with the discomfort that the old console did. In fact, as you can see from the picture, the Vita is not much larger than a Playstation 3 controller.
The biggest thing, of course, is the twin sticks, and boy do they make a difference. Gone are the says have having to try and spin around using circle, x, square and triangle! Just that simple little second stick, coupled with the fantastic power of the Vita, means you are playing a proper console in the palm of your hand. It has been marketed as a pocket PS3, and it isn’t far from it.
I didn’t go for one of the packages you see in Game or HMV, or any other retailer. I got mine from ASDA (other supermarkets are available!), and I got lucky. They were on sale for just £197 at the time, some £33 off the RRP for the wifi only model. That immediately meant I could get a game. I opted for Unit 13, partly because they had sold out of Uncharted, but it had been on my wishlist also. I also got a 4gb memory card and the official Sony Starter Kit, which comprises a case, pouch, wrist strap, screen protector and game case. Altogether, it cost around £270, and I felt I had got great value compared to some of the packages out there, not all of which include a memory card. And you need a memory card, and they are specific to the Vita. Shame on you Sony! Make sure you shop around, and not just go for one of the arbitrary packages out there.
The touchscreen is very responsive, easily on a par with the screen on Apple’s products, and the display is bright and vivid. The dual sticks feel very comfortable, and the whole thing feels really natural in your hands. The rear touchpad is a bit of a gimmick, and while playing the demo of FIFA, I did inadvertently touch it several times, ruining a promising attack (the rear pad can be used to shoot at goal). This may be because I have large hands and fingers, but it is a little annoying all the same. The slots are easily accessible, although it does feel a little old fashioned swapping out game cards in this age of digital downloads. Being able to have several games downloaded from the store on a single card is definitely the way forward, but Sony do need to address the pricing of full retail games available for download.
Which Model Should You Buy?
I chose the wifi only model because it is hard to justify having to pay for a 3G contract on top of the extra initial outlay for the 3G and wifi model. I also have an iPhone 4S, which can be used as a personal hotspot. So my advice would be to just get the wifi only model unless you really need the 3G capabilitites. And in this age of always connected smartphones, who really needs Twitter or Facebook on their Vita?
Overall, then, I can highly recommend Sony’s latest handheld device. One of the main reasons for my confidence of it’s success is the launch lineup of games, and the titles in the pipeline. Uncharted is a brilliant portable version of the bestselling series, with an original storyline, rather than just being a port. Games such as Lumines, Wipeout 2048 and Unit 13 really show what the console can do, and there are also some excellent titles on the store too. Motorstorm RC and Super Stardust are both must have downloads. The fact that there are new IP’s at launch like Unit 13 and Escape Plan to name just two, really shows that Sony are keen to succeed with this venture. That feeling never came across with PSP. In the pipeline are titles such as Resistance, Bioshock, MGS and Call Of Duty, all huge names, and it can only be a good thing that Vita is getting them. Of course, titles like this weren’t around when PSP came into being, but the fact that developers and publishers are prepared to support Vita points to a bright future.
What do you think of Vita? Get in touch and tell us what model you got, and what games you’re playing.