Sony PlayStation Vita
Pushing the right buttons
The PlaySation Vita is Sony's latest attempt to take portable gaming to new heights, and it finally hit UK shelves last week. With quad-core smartphones waiting in the wings and gaming apps aplenty, the company's refreshed PSP has its work cut out.
Tap to play
Fortunately, the PS Vita impresses from the get go. First off, it's well-built, in a lightweight yet durable body similar to that of the original PSP. Hats off to designer Takashi Sogabe here, who pinpointed what worked in the past and stuck to it.
With an additional thumbstick and more rationally-placed buttons, the Vita returns to a sensible layout minus the PSPGo-style slide out nonsense. The body itself does get scuffed easily so it's worth picking up a protective case for long journeys, such as the shock-resistant Thrustmaster seen below, or a sleeve of some kind to pop her in your pocket. Either way, you will need fairly big coat pockets I'm afraid.
Lock and load: Thrustmaster's Vita case
The Vita's 5in OLED capacitive touchscreen is beautifully clear and responsive, but a reliance on the display for navigating the UI is unnecessary. Overuse makes regularly cleaning the Vita screen to remove smudges a necessity, although as the gloss black body is a magnet for fingerprints, I'm usually in wipe-down mode ahead of WipEout sessions anyway.
On the rear is Vita's biggest gimmick - a second touchscreen for reach-around tickles. When the requirement appears in a game, a set of secondary shoulder buttons could be just as effective, if not more so, considering the machine's pledge for cross-platform playability.
Spinal tap, tap, tap
Still, for casual games, such as Little Deviants, the rear-touch panel adds an extra dimension and will no doubt be enjoyed more by a younger audience. In other titles where the backpad is used sparingly, I generally found myself searching for the option to turn it off, with accidental finger interference often an issue.
Under the hood there's a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor with 512MB of Ram and quad-core GPU with 128MB of video Ram, with beefy brain-power evident when running its classier games. But despite the smooth build and the general feeling of awe, niggling gripes remain.
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I'm really sick of seeing this bollocks about the price. Consider this; very few people on this site complain about the latest and greatest smartphones costing in excess of £400. If people are willing to pay that much for a phone it's not because of it's ability to make calls (they could quite easily get a decent phone for a tenner if all they cared about was call quality). The reason people are buying these smartphones is for their ability to play music, movies, games and browse the web. The Vita is better specced than these phones, has dedicated gaming controls and is half the price.
If the Vita made phone calls you'd be calling it the bargain of the century. There's no pleasing some people.
Actually Barry, we did load the launch day patch - it was mandatory. And where have I once complained in this review that there are slow loading times? Maybe very briefly about WipEout in the game piece, but the patch did nothing to noticeably speed things up there, I was playing it this morning, so I would have noticed.
The price of the memory ...
... is gouging, plain and simple.
Did anyone else see the ads for the PSVita and think it was about a new brand of diet crispbread?
Another issue I just realised is that the damn psn account is locked to the hardware and can't be changed without a hardware reset.
There goes the idea of legally playing Japanese PSN games and UK PSN games, Sony, why you make Piracy the only option?