Gaming System Review: Playstation Vita
I was never one to truly appreciate a handheld gaming system. I tried the Nintendo Gameboy and that was short-lived. I tried the Sony PSP and that was also short-lived. I guess I have been spoiled by loud, heavy consoles and the power contained therein displayed on a large HD screen. But, here I am trying another handheld system, this time the Sony Playstation Vita. I do have a reason though. Due to pending work-related requirements overseas, I felt it best to leave my console and all its accessories at home with the kiddies and opt for something more portable, something I can use on a plane and pretty much any time I want. After (some) extensive research I felt the Vita was best for me. It arrived in the mail recently, here are my thoughts on what it has to offer and its portable power.
The price is always a concern when purchasing anything related to gaming. Let’s face it, these things can be pricy and if it sucks or it breaks, the cost is high with an unlikely chance for reimbursement. I waited for the right deal and found it recently on Amazon. Basically, the Vita (Wi-Fi only) is a cool $200 and comes with nothing other than a charger and wire to connect it to your computer. The bundle I bought on Amazon came with a 4 GB memory card and four downloadable games – The Walking Dead (entire five episodes), Sly Cooper, Uncharted, and one other indie game I didn’t pay much attention to. The other three are pretty big titles and I already know The Walking Dead is a bad-ass game and worth playing again. The bundle I purchased also has 3G capability, but I am not sure I will use it…all for a grand total of $189. In addition, I found Hotshots Golf for $5. Great deal!
Let’s talk about the system itself. The Vita can do quite a bit. You can listen to music, take and manage photos, watch movies, and more importantly play games. The PS store offers a near unlimited supply of new and old Playstation games available for purchase/download to include what appears to be an extensive catalog of indie games. I haven’t explored much of the available games yet, but the Vita game supply is not limited to what you see on store shelves. Though, buying games in stores might be best and I’ll get to that later.
When I opened the package and got things up and running, it took probably 30 minutes or so to get a feel for the applications, settings, and basic navigation. The Vita utilizes a touch-screen which makes navigation quick and easy. The screen resolution was immaculate to say the least. I watched my son play The Walking Dead for a bit and the quality and frame rate were top-notch. The basic moving parts are easy to use with little to loading time between screens. Then I played the game and realized you have an option to use touchscreen or the controls. Using touchscreen is actually a really cool option for a game like The Walking Dead.
I like the fact that I can connect my Vita to my laptop and manage my memory card. I can move games and my saved data to store in a folder on my laptop to make room for other games top put on my memory card. Once the software was installed it was easy to connect and move things around. You can also connect online for storage, but I didn’t feel that was the best option for me since I do not plan on buying a data plan for the 3G capability. Therefore, I could only use it via Wi-Fi. The Vita is also Bluetooth capable. I never thought much of Bluetooth until I acquired a very small Bose radio that is only Bluetooth capable. We connect our iPhones to it and it has great sound. So, I experimented and connected the Vita to it and played The Walking Dead. The sound quality was amazing it was nice to listen to the game with such sound vs. having to use headphones. I am really beginning to appreciate Bluetooth.
Probably the only true downside is storage. It didn’t take long to figure out storage IS an issue. It’s great to get four free games, but when they give you a 4GB memory card that can’t support all four free games it’s frustrating. So, I went and spent $30 for an 8GB memory card and guess what? I still can’t fit all four games on that card either. Some simple math would have prevented that purchase all-together, so that one is on me. I checked the price for a 16GB memory card and that is going to cost me $38 on Amazon. Hence, what I said before about buying games in stores. If the game is available in the store, I am going to guy it for the simple reason that storage from downloadable stuff IS an issue. If you are the type of person that is going to do movies, photos, music, AND games, you WILL have storage issues unless you want to buy a 64GB memory card for nearly $122 – more than half the cost of the Vita itself. Though moving games from my Vita to my laptop is a matter of connecting it and tapping a few buttons, I want to have access to all of my downloadable games. The good news is that many indie games do not require much space. The indie game I got for free was only 29MB in space while Sly Cooper was 3.2K MB. That’s a huge difference in space. Bottom line, I don’t want to connect my Vita to my laptop when I want to play certain games or have to carry multiple memory cards and try to remember which game(s) are on which card. Those things are as small as a fingernail. The travel package I want to purchase does have a portable storage rack for games with memory card slots. So, that will be convenient. The other downside is that standard SD cards are not compatible. You need the special Vita memory card…another way to jab at the wallet and it’s irritating.
Despite one major flaw, as far as I am concerned the system is great and powerful like the Wizard in Oz. It has front and rear cameras and for gaming it also has dual analog sticks for smoother game play. The system doesn’t produce that much sound from its dual speakers, but with headphones it sounds like you are in a movie theater. For those that have a PS4, the Vita can connect remotely to those games for use as a second screen or even to play PS 4 game son the Vita. Not sure why one would want to do that, but the option is there. One thing I wish the Vita has is the capability to connect it to a TV and play Vita games on the TV…like the Wii U. Then again, I haven’t quite explored everything just yet. In regards to gaming, games that allow multiple profiles are nice like The Walking Dead. Then, my kids can play their own game and not ruin alter the progress of my game.
Pros: Light and portable; excellent screen resolution; easy to use PS store; little to no loading time when navigating screen options; online capability through Wi-Fi or 3G; wireless connection with other Vita users; remote connection for PS 4 users; dual analog sticks, games are on cards for easy storage and transport; excellent selection of Vita games available; Bluetooth capability.
Cons: Storage – over time there will never be enough storage; need a data account to utilize 3G. Battery life is always an issue with cool electronics.
I am glad I watched this review, I haven’t even discovered the rear touch pad yet. I don’t think any of the games I got support it.
FYI, my Playstation gamer tag is DerelictHerds. If you want to play something sometime…