The PlayStation Vita is arguably the most powerful handheld device on the market, with a quad-core processor ensuring reliable and graphically immersive gameplay. Aided by a 5 inch OLED capacitive touchscreen display, the games look almost as good as those on the PlayStation 3.
Aesthetically it is very similar to its oval shaped PSP predecessor, with a sleek black design. The control layout is based on Sony’s timeless Dual Analog controller, with two analog sticks, a noticeable upgrade from the PSP’s single stick. There is also a rear touch pad on the device and a Sixaxis motion sensing system, along with two cameras capable of face detection and head tracking, allowing additional gameplay options for developers and more fun for gamers.
The device can connect to the internet via WiFi, and there’s also a 3G model available. The device features an internet browser and social network integration, but unless you don’t own a smartphone you probably won’t find yourself using them. Unfortunately, Sony decided to be a little bit greedy and avoid the use of standard SD memory cards, the Vita instead requiring the marginally more expensive PS Vita memory cards.
The launch title line up is reasonably impressive. Uncharted: Golden Abyss, the gaming generation’s answer to Indiana Jones, is a notable standout; as is WipEout 2048, the latest entry in Sony’s futuristic racer series. The most exciting feature is cross-platform play on selected titles, meaning that you’ll only need to buy one copy of a game to play it on both the Vita and the PS3.
In a market dominated by smart phones, it is difficult see much space for a dedicated hand-held gaming device. That being said the PlayStation Vita is much better than Nintendo’s offering. Excluding nostalgia inducing remakes of Nintendo 64 games (namely Ocarina of Time), it’s hard to justify the purchase of a Nintendo 3DS at this stage. The 3D feature quickly consumes battery life, and its boxy dimensions will make you feel like you’re carrying around a big kid’s toy.
The Vita, on the other hand, is a powerful piece of hardware which boasts some great sequels to some great franchises. The high price tag ($348 for WiFi; $418 for 3G) and full priced retail releases ($60 – $80) make it difficult to justify purchase. But if you’re going to buy a dedicated handheld gaming device, it’s hard to ignore the Vita.