I stated in my review of the Nintendo 3DS how much I dislike reviewing hardware since people are biased from the manufactures’ standpoint right off the bat. This review is similar to the 3DS piece since it’s a new foundation for all mobile Vita nonsense to come out of Sony for the next 5-10 years. Comparing the PSP to the Vita is similar to comparing a Dodge Viper SRT to a Pinto Station wagon: sure, they’re both cars, but only one explodes when hit from behind. Hint: It’s not the Viper, and if you don’t know what a Pinto is, you don’t need a Vita. I’ll explain why in a few moments.
The Vita I reviewed was the cheaper Wi-Fi only version, retail $249.99, and not the $299.99 3G/Wi-Fi package. The first things I noticed is the lack of accessories. I thought Apple was stingy with the things they put in a box (a sticker? Really Apple?) Many games, such as the excellent Uncharted: Golden Abyss, require a memory card to play and save games. Sony has made searching for these proprietary memory cards easy by only allowing Sony branded Vita memory cards to work and function in the unit. I would assume over time different brands will become available, similar to the Sony Memory Card Duo which was required in the PSP at launch, where now other companies create them also.
First impressions: smooth, sleek, light, not too over-sized (however I have gigantic hands,) and the dual analog sticks are what the old PSP needed in many games. The video quality is outstanding with the 5” OLED touch high-def screen display. I don’t understand why Sony wouldn’t put essentials such as the USB cable and headphones with the unit, however I never understood why printers shipped without the required USB or parallel cable either. Sony has claimed the Vita is the new “Playstation 3 in your hands,” and while it may have some of the computing power, the only thing Vita does well (at this point) is gaming. Some people are complaining about the lack of applications and other uses such as music and camera capabilities (the Vita only has a crummy 0.3 mp camera;) however Sony has stayed strong on the idea of the Vita being a gaming console first and foremost and an iPhone second.
Vita boots up quick with its own internal OS similar to the PS3. Connecting to PSN over Wi-Fi is easy enough for my 8-year-old to figure out and start asking if he can download games. The issue with any new system is always the amount of games (or apps for those buying a Vita for applications) available at launch. Vita launches on February 22, 2012 with twenty-five available titles and oodles more available for purchase on PSN, such as many PS2 games and enough Demos to fill a 4 GB card in a few hours. Uncharted: Golden Abyss is in the running for “Game of the Year” since it is the most complete game to take advantage of the front and back-side touch screens, internal gyroscope, and tilt mechanisms – but it’s also the most expensive game at $50. Some people are picking up Little Deviants since it came either bundled with their Vita or bought it first since it’s the cheapest Vita game available along with Reality Riders and ModNation Racers: Road Trip at $30. Most games tend to be $40 each and if you don’t have a memory card (which costs $100 for the 32 GB card) certain games won’t play or save your progress which is stupid from a gamer point of view.
Bottom Line: As far as handheld gaming goes, this is the best available. No question. Vita has the best graphics, best GPU and CPU in a handheld and most available memory. With that being said, the Vita is tailored and designed more for a hardcore adult gamer. There are kids’ games available, however the integration with the internet and the ability to tie your PS3 into a handheld device means you’ll soon be able to pick up a PSP for $50 on craigslist in a week. Please don’t – unless you need to steady the wobbly chair in the dining room.
- Chris Tallant