Sony’s newest portable device, the Playstation Vita, recently hit stores in Japan. Reviews on it were mixed. Before it launched in Japan though, we were able to take the Vita for a spin ourselves. At the time, we weren’t privy to a lot of details but even without full disclosure, the system has potential to be something big.
The first thing I noticed when I handled the Vita was the fact that it was slightly larger than the standard PSP system. Although it was a slight bit larger, it certainly felt much more solid than the PSP. The touchpad on the back has a noticeably different texture from the rest of the system, meaning that it is quite easy to catch yourself if you have wandering fingers. Overall, the PS Vita doesn’t look aesthetically different than the traditional PSP. It is definitely a different system but someone could tell you that the PSP was given a slight redesign.
The first game I played was a title called Little Deviants. The title is a mini game compilation that focuses on the use of front and back touch panels, augmented reality features and dual analog sticks as well. A few of the games really feel like the free augmented reality games that came with the Nintendo 3DS, but there were a couple other games that really helped the title stand out on it’s own. The minigame I spent the most time with was a game where I rolled my deviant around throughout labrynth stlye mazes that were peppered with hazards like enemies and spikes. The movement of the deviant is dictated by my ability to push up or push down the ground with the use of the touch panels. This feature ultimately was pretty cool since it operated very smooth and showed the response of the touch panels. Some puzzles in the game called for creative use of these features as well, having me create jumps or foxholes to get by obstacles as well. I have no doubt that Little Deviants will be an entertaining launch day title in February.
The next game I played was Wipeout 2048, one of Playstation’s better known racing franchises. When I played Wipeout 2048, I was able to make use of the tilt functions of the Vita, allowing me to bank into turns with realistic steering. The game also utilizes the touch screen to attack other players and make use of certain weapons. One of the coolest features I got to use with Wipeout 2048 though was the ability to play the game cross platform by playing alongside others in Wipeout HD Fury. The feature (which we saw detailed briefly at E3) allows the Vita player to race on HD Fury maps with PS3 users, meaning that Vita players will not be limited to silly Ad hoc modes in order to play games online. Although the features that Wipeout 2048 uses are quite unique, there were times that I felt like I didn’t have enough fingers to do everything I wanted to while playing.
The real gem of the PS Vita demo though was Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Unlike the other games we had an opportunity to play, Uncharted: Golden Abyss wasn’t focused on heavily using the Vita’s special features. Instead, Uncharted: Golden Abyss was an experience showing the early potential of the system. The game showcased visuals that could easily be compaired to the original Uncharted on PS3 but also amazing particle effects on things like fire and water. Initially, I was concerned about the functionality of a game like Uncharted being on a portable system, since the game has always been about finding that next jump or seeing enemies before they see you. For the platform sections of the game, Uncharted: Golden Abyss uses one of two different methods. For the traditionalist, Drake is still completely controllable as he is in any of the console games, making full use of the dual analog sticks and shoulder buttons. The Vita also showcased a “Paint mode”, in it you can trace the path you want Drake to take and he will follow it… mostly. As with any Uncharted game, ledges may crumble and pipes may break, so Drake will still stop at these points, making you have to retrace his path. I was perfectly okay with this feature since it does not take away from any of the original excitement that is in all Uncharted games.
The Vita itself differs from it’s next-gen portable counterpart, the 3DS, mainly due to the fact that the system isn’t focused on a singular feature. The PS Vita offers a graphical improvement over it’s predecessor and better control placement than the PSP (way better than the PSP Go). We can only hope that with the superior launch lineup will indeed give us a solid portable system launch that doesn’t result in a massive price drop after a few months.
What are your thoughts on the Vita? Which game are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comment section below, you’ve got no excuses, you don’t even need to create an account!