Review by samuellee60

"Portable Gaming at the Next Level"

As the world around us changes at an alarmingly fast rate, people are expected to keep up with the times and advances in technology, or miss the benefits of being fully upgraded by being left behind. The same is true with the video game industry. Video game producers and system developers are expected to keep up and produce the latest and greatest in order to reap the benefits of satisfied, hungry, customers. In my opinion, Sony has done everything necessary to feed us the latest and greatest technology in portable gaming in a manner no true gamer would find disappointing.

From the time I was old enough to begin playing video games, I have "upgraded" to the latest and greatest whenever possible. As a child we owned an NES to one day replace it with the SNES. Years later we would trade up our SNES for a PS1. That PS1 would be upgraded into a PS2. Then the console wars would really begin, and my two brothers and I would all get our own XBOX; I also would get my own Gamecube.

I eventually became fully immersed in the world of portable gaming and suffered from upgrade fever. I went from a classic gameboy, to a gameboy slim, to a gameboy color, to a gameboy color Pokemon edition to a gameboy advance, to the gameboy advance SP and so on and so forth. In my life I have owned over 8 different versions and styles of a Nintendo DS (fat version) to smaller versions to DSI to 3DS and so on. I have had 4 different versions of the PSP as well.

But as life moves on, and priorities come up (marriage, family, work) it becomes harder and harder to stay with the upgrade fever. I had all but given up the portable gaming industry in lieu of my iPad. However a recent business trip with long layovers in the airport prompted me to search out a new portable gaming device. All my research led to the PS Vita. I can honestly say this is a purchase I have not, nor will not (in the forseeable future) regret.

As a former Microsoft fanatic, I was converted back to Sony when I purchased my Playstation 3 three years ago. Since then I have given away my 360 and have had no regret. The features and compatability with my PS3 made the Vita that much more enticing. If you are reading this, then perhaps you are at least considering purchasing this powerhouse of a gaming device. For ease of navigation, this review has been broken down in sections regarding, portability, controls, games, accessories features, support,

Portability 7/10
This is easily where the system scores the lowest. A person who buys a portable game system is usually buying it, well, to be portable. Of course, you will spend hours upon hours on it at your own personal abode, but travelling is where portability is necessary. The Vita is not something you will store in your front pocket. This system is huge. The screen is a whopping five inches. And others like myself have also added the game controller grips. Travelling through an airport, this can become somewhat of a nuisance. It is just a big system, making it not so easy to transport. However, the pros more than make up for the cons in this department. If you are buying a system solely on the fact that it is small, then I can't really say the Vita is your best option. However I firmly believe this is something that is easily overlooked.

Controls 9/10
The setup of the Vita control wise is that of your Playstation controller. You have the same four symbol buttons on the right with the d pad on the left. At the top of the system are your trigger buttons. Unlike the Playstation controller, we are still confined to only one trigger pad per side, i.e. only R and L and not R, R2, and L, L2. This is not a bad thing. If there were four trigger pads, it would probably only create a nuisance. In the bottom right hand of the system lays the select and start buttons and the PS home button is on the bottom left. These controls are all smooth and function properly.

I only have one problem with the controls and their layout. They are too close to the end of the system. I have big hands. If I hold the Vita how it is meant to be played, within minutes my fingers begin to get sore. This device looks as if it was designed with smaller hands in mind. However this is something easily remedied by spending twenty more bucks and getting trigger grips (see accessories).

Games 9/10
The Vita did not have a big launch and relied solely on a few solid games to draw consumerism. Even now, the Vita does not boast a huge selection of games. However the ones that it does have are absolutely dynamite. At your disposal right now (late August) is Uncharted, Rayman, Dynasty Warriors, Hot Shot Golf, Gravity Rush, Disgaea, Madden, and many other solid titles. In the not to distant future I plan to review many of these games. The future looks promising as well with the release of Assassin's Creed, Littlebigplanet, Lego Lord of the Rings and other titles. The games can only get better and more numerous.

As it stands, there are over 250 digital PSP titles that the user can purchase from Playstation Network along with many demos of current and upcoming games. There are applications that can be bought and downloaded as well that give many games. While many are complaining of a lack of games available, this shouldn't be the case. There is much to get for the Vita at this moment. Factor in the capability to get online and stream and play some flash games as well and you have quite a bit of content in this section.

Accessories 9/10
The accessories are outstanding for the Vita at this time. With great carrying cases and game cases as well as screen protectors, there are many nice accessories to get.

The most important to buy would be the memory card. I was somewhat aggravated that the same technology using the PSP memory card was trashed here. Yes, you guessed it, to get more money Sony has developed an all new (and extremely expensive) memory card for you to purchase that is compatible only with your Vita and no other system. Don't even think about getting anything smaller than a 16g (pricing at sixty dollars on a game industries website) as this will fill up quickly. The owner will find himself quickly deleting demos to make room for more, as each byte is precious.

Equally important (for those with larger hands) are the trigger grips. These are grips that snugly attach to your Vita system giving it the feel of a large game controller. These are my second favorite investment behind the memory card. I could not play this system without these grips. For those with larger hands looking to get into this system, the trigger grips are a must. There are cheaper off brands, but I prefer the smooth Sony brand for a twenty dollar bill.

Features 10/10
The features of this awesome system are dynamic. First and foremost the whopping five inch screen leaves no stone un-turned. You can really maximize game play without continually squinting and damaging your eyes. As if that large screen wasn't enough of an incentive, it has a 16:9 ratio on an up to date OLED screen with over 16 million colors. Let me just say that on this screen, the visuals are STUNNING. The games (that utilize this awesome capacity) are pristine in every way imaginable. Graphics on the home screen and video games are just plain beautiful. In a world where technology is demanded, the technological capactiy of this machine far excels every other hand held device on the market.

Sony has realized the future of technology lays in touch screen. Everything from the computer on your desk to the phone in your pocket to the tablet in your portfolio is center on touch screen capacity. Now, your portable gaming device is as well. The Vita boasts a good, well responsive, touch screen to make menu navigation even easier. This also opens a whole new world for companies to utilize in current and future games. Many games are already using this feature to the best of their ability.

Of course, what would ANY portable device be today without wireless internet capabilities? Your Vita can access wi-fi anywhere, anytime. This is a MUST in today's society. It also means you can download, install and play video games online, on-the-go. That feature is a great thing to implement in this system. If you are really loaded you can even drop the extra scratch and get a Vita with 3g capabilities. In my opinion, this is unnecessary. Generally speaking the places we go have wireless and we can download and get what we need before we get to those dead spots.

A new feature Sony implemented on the Vita was a rear touch pad. To be honest, I don't care for this feature. I will find myself constantly touching it, and if I were playing a game where it was frequently used, I would be in trouble. This feature isn't anything impressive and I imagine it will not have much support in the coming games.

This system has front and rear cameras, not a necessary feature, but a good one to have nonetheless.

The Six Axis Motion sensor is added as well, but another feature that is not a premier. This will work good in aviation games I imagine, but doesn't have a lot of support right now either.

Fans have asked for it and they have received their dual analog sticks. There is one on both side of the Vita. A GPS is built into the system, and a new feature called cross-play has been added. This gives players the ability to play certain games on the Vita against players on a PS3. I think this feature is awesome. It also lets a person pause a game on one system, and resume the game on another system (if both games have the feature). This concept is amazing, and will revolutionize gaming I believe, but hasn't been used to its fullest extent just yet. Expect this to have an impact of the systems in the coming years.

The ability to connect your Vita to your home console is all the more reason to purchase one. These are the greatest features as of now.

Support 8/10
Support is not the best right now. The biggest complaint is the fact that Vita cannot play hard copies of PSP video games or use the PSP memory card. Your old PSP discs are worthless when you get the Vita. However many of those games can be bought online. The fact that customers have to deal out more money is not a flattering idea though.

You can register your old PSN account and sync all your trophies together making for good added support between the Vita and PS3.

Many game industries are somewhat backward of making the plunge into the Vita as sells have not been perfect. No worries here. The 3DS had a rough launch as well. The industry can't become perfect overnight (as much as we would like). Continue to give this system time and it will grow and develop with great support. It is still in its infancy stage.

The fact that Sony has partnered with AT&T shows consumers that third party support is in the not too distant future. Expect to see contracts made and products being offered in the future.

Overall the Vita may not be perfect yet, but it is easily the best system on the portable market. Greater games are coming on the horizon, and the future is as bright as can be for Sony and it's hand held device. I for one, and very glad to be part of it and expect great things.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/23/12

Game Release: PlayStation Vita (US, 02/22/12)


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