PS Vita: A Week On.

Just over a week now, and I still love my Vita. I’ve finished Uncharted: Golden Abyss and thoroughly enjoyed it, started playing the single player campaign of the visually glorious Wipeout 2048, and gotten addicted to Motorstorm RC thanks mainly to my friends banging on about how good it is. So bearing in mind that in general I absolutely love my Vita, I thought I’d post up five thing that annoy me. Just for some balance… or something.
  • No HTML5/Flash support on the browser sucks. I have this lovely screen to watch things on, only I can’t visit Youtube or the BBC’s iPlayer. The ultimate irony came when I was using the Vita’s browser to view Official PlayStation Magazine’s site and couldn’t watch a video they’d posted.
  • When the low battery warning comes up, they really mean it. I was merrily playing U:GA  the other night, got the warning, and 10 minutes or so later… blip! It was done. Maybe Uncharted’s boss cut scenes are particularly battery intensive, I don’t know, just stop playing and put it on charge.
  • Not being able to turn off the rear touch pad (in a game’s options)  is annoying. I’m simply incapable of holding the Vita without touching the rear touch pad, and therefore incapable of not inadvertently messing with whatever’s controlled by the rear touch pad.
  • A 4GB memory card isn’t big enough. It really isn’t.
  • Near makes me feel stupid. Either I’m just plain dumb, or it’s operating on some kind of higher plane, or nobody gets what it’s supposed to do. Seriously, what is Near for? And should I worry about getting mugged for my Vita because I’ve got location data turned on? Easily the most baffling app on the system in my opinion.

 

Vita, Vita, Vita!

What else could this post be about, if not about the PS Vita I picked up on launch day? Typing something more interesting than “Squeeee!!! My new shiny!!” could prove tricky, so I’ll start with some technical bits and see where I go from there.

In a side by side comparison with the PSP the Vita is longer, wider, and slightly heavier than it’s predecessor. The OLED screen is bigger and much more vibrant, and the Vita’s increased graphical grunt does a good job of showing it off. As the Vita has a second stick on the right, the button layout has changed. The Home button moves to the left, and the Start and Select buttons are on the right. The Volume buttons have moved to the top edge, and to my mind they’re slightly out of the way. The front touch screen works exactly as it should, the rear touch pad is less convincing, I find it too sensitive, at least in the games I’ve got that make use of it.

At it’s heart it’s a gaming machine, and based on what I’ve played so far, it does that very well indeed. Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Wipeout 2048 both look absolutely gorgeous. Uncharted’s run and gun game play does a good job of highlighting the advantage of having the second stick, and Wipeout’s furious pace ably demonstrates that the Vita has no problem with throwing high quality visuals around at speed. It really does feel like you’ve got a current gen home console in portable form. Disappointingly I couldn’t try the remote play feature, streaming Killzone 3 to the Vita was one of the first things I tried, and even though it’s not working yet, I have no doubt it’ll work as well as this video suggests.

The Vita is not perfect however, there are some niggles with it. Apart from the short battery life, it’s missing some features that owners of Apple devices might take for granted. The web browser doesn’t support Flash or HTML5, so both Youtube and the BBC’s iPlayer aren’t compatible, and there’s no dedicated app for either of them available. The Netflix app that’s available on the US PSN store isn’t available here yet, and there’s no firm release date. Setting up the Vodaphone SIM card for the 3G part wasn’t easy either, although in fairness that was the fault of Vodaphone themselves rather than Sony or the hardware.

Overall though, the Vita is a very nice bit of kit. Like all newly released consoles you’re buying into the promised potential, the lack of apps and gimped web browser is something you have to put up with in the short term. There are some great launch titles available to keep us going, and I’m sure that Sony have learned their lesson from the PSP. As a Vita owner, I’m excited to see were it goes.

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