Review: PlayStation Vita

By Wayne Webb

I have been hearing about how amazing the Vita is for a while now – online videos and press releases have been promising the whole nine yards and then some. I got my hands on one at a Sony preview a week before launch and was convinced I needed one to complete my gaming experience.

So now that I have one of my own, how does it compare to the hype and the initial wow factor? It is a good, possibly even great, handheld gaming device. Yet, it does have some flaws, minor ones – but ones that were obviously avoidable.

On the plus side it is stunning to play with. Games look amazing on the 5-inch OLED screen, which despite the size impresses with its crisp visuals, clarity and depth. I played about 10 minutes of two levels of the launch title Uncharted Golden Abyss and that was enough to sell me on the console.

It’s lightweight and easy to handle, with a nice feel to its sleek Black Mirror design. The power contained was on show with Uncharted 3 and the experience was as good as the full screen PS3 version, which I was hoping for but not really expecting. It has front and back cameras, which work well with the Augmented Reality games (which are a gimmick at best) even though they limit your movements too much. It also has front and back touchpads which are interesting when it comes to gaming, but are not anything special, just very cool. The wifi allows you to remain connected and be a participant on Sony’s Near Me experience (compete in geographic areas for hi scores – a nice variation on the I-Phone GPS type check in games).

On the negative side, Sony has done what it has been doing for years, limiting the potential of the device. Unlike the Android- or Apple-based devices, there is little chance of modification with many features locked down to only the way Sony want you to use it. There’s a proprietary browser, no flash enabled on it and no way to load another version. The memory cards are proprietary but could easily have been cheaper and more accessible SD or Micro cards, and you need one to do just about everything. Without a memory card the PS Vita is a beautiful paperweight. Likewise the cable, instead of going with the almost unanimous decision to support Micro USB, they make a whole new cable and plug.

Overall though the more games they make, the cheaper the cards get and the more I play with it the more I love it. Most of my quibbles are directed at Sony and their anti-competitive behavior that limits consumers rather empowers them. The device and its capabilities are impressive, but a bit more forward thinking at Sony may have made this the device that bridges that tablet/gaming console gap, but the company has squarely missed that boat with the limitations imposed on configurability.

Pros: Lightweight, high quality, OLED brilliance, powerful processing, stunning game processing, fully portable.
Cons: Limiting features, proprietary cables and memory.   

4 Shacks Out of 5