Wednesday, April 9, 2014

PS Vita Console Review

I have been so tied up with work on game, and dvd reviews lately that I totally forgot to do a 'PS Vita' review. This is a huge oversight on my part in that I have spent most of my time gaming on the Vita since I bought it late last year. For those of you looking for a proper handheld, and are trying to decide between going for Nintendo's 3DS, or Sony's PS Vita I will try my best to give you all the necessary details to make that decision an easier one. I'm not gonna go the fanboy route, and say that the 3DS is garbage in comparison to the Vita, because the fact is I've never played a 3DS. My goal is simply to give you details on what the PS Vita offers the consumer.

Sony's all-in-one handheld console, known as the "PS Vita" is a single source unit for all your entertainment needs. Whether you enjoy watching movies on a mobile device, enjoy listening to the latest songs, or love to game online the PS Vita does all of that, and then some. In essence the "PS Vita" handheld is a lot like many high end smartphones out on the marketplace today. It offers entertainment in many forms, and even has social media apps for on the go use. Like said smartphones the "PS Vita" utilizes a swipe, and touchscreen user interface that will allow for easy access to the things you wish to do on the console. Games, movies, music, and social media apps can be activated by a simple screen touch, or with the use of the included DPad, analog sticks, or buttons that are associated with a standard Playstation controller. To close apps, and move onto the next preferred app of choice all you have to do is press the "Home" button, and swipe the current screen display to get out of it. The "PS Vita" is all about ease of access.

In the way of games you will find that the "PS Vita" is compatible with past PSOne, PSP (only certain titles), Minis, newly introduced Mobile games, and PS Vita exclusives. All of these game types are made available for use, and purchase on the console via the Playstation Store. The really neat thing, which I almost forgot to mention is that the PS Vita can also play PS3, and PS4 games via the "Remote Play" function. Like the rest of the console's app based access points you will find that browsing, buying, and remote playing the games of your choice are all an easy task. Compared to the PS3, and PS4 store the simplified "PS Vita" version of the Playstation Store is built in a manner that is completely understandable, and user friendly. If you are looking for a specific game it will not take long to find it as the main menu system is divided into categories such as "New Releases", "Games", "Videos", "Mobile", and so on. The sub-divided menus are also divided in an equally easy to understand manner. As far as detailed descriptions for downloadable digital content goes you will find the same robust information that you would find on the PS3, and PS4 consoles.

When it comes to apps for social media, and other entertainment extras you will be happy to know that there's a lot of freebies made by Sony, and made available for anyone who wishes to use them. There's an app for Twitter, Facebook, Skype, Email (Google/Yahoo!/Other), and even Youtube. For those of you interested in music they even have an organizable "TuneIn" app that will give you free access to radio stations from all over the world. You can favorite the radio stations you like, and return to them whenever you want. You can even search for specific songs, and stations via the in-app search engine. While these will no doubt be the go to apps for many social media enthusiasts, and music lovers there are plenty of other apps available which can make daily life an easier thing to tackle. The Google Map app, for example can help you find the location of certain places, or areas of interest. There's definitely a lot of noteworthy apps available to those who dare to adopt the "PS Vita" as their handheld console of choice.

Aside from apps, and entertainment options the "PS Vita" also doubles as a camera. This built in capture device will enable the gamer to not only snap quick pics of desired subjects, but will also allow for face to face interactions via the Skype app. I will admit though that the resolution of Sony's "PS Vita" camera isn't all that clear. In fact it's probably the least impressive in regards to the megapixels that Sony could have used. With that being said though the camera is still somewhat good for Skype chats.

By now I'm pretty sure you are concerned about memory, and how much memory it takes to include all of these apps on your "PS Vita". While games on the "PS Vita" are small in file size for the most part you will find that some games will require up to 8GB of memory. To put things in perspective the second cheapest memory card you can get for a "PS Vita" handheld is an 8GB card. This means that if you were to buy the Killzone PS Vita exclusive it would take up the entire memory card. This brings me to the topic of the downside of owning a PS Vita. Memory is everything when it comes to owning a "PS Vita" console. It allows you to store update files, game saves, and all of the previously mentioned apps. The downside to this all is that an 8GB memory card will cost you $20-$25. For a much better 32GB you will have to fork over $80. Memory is not cheap for the "PS Vita", and is definitely something you should consider when thinking about buying the handheld.

On the PS Vita's behalf you will be able to play many amazing games, and experience many different forms of entertainment at your fingertips. You will even be able to manage your online social life with ease via the apps that are made available for free. The games for the most part look absolutely stunning, and the fact that there's plenty of exclusives being released each month makes the console more than worthwhile. With the mandatory PS+ subscription you'll even be able to nab some free games, and hold onto them for as long as you keep up your PS+ subscription. As I mentioned earlier on PS Vita is all about ease of access, and quality entertainment options. The only downside to it all is that a good sized memory will cost you damn near the price of the console itself. If you can afford to keep it all up though the "PS Vita" is definitely worth having.

When it comes to cost efficiency owning a "PS Vita" along with a PS3, or PS4 console will reward you in some significant ways. As we all know the latest Playstation consoles all require a paid subscription via the "PS+" service. For $10 less than what Xbox Live goes for you can get a years worth of PS+ online compatibility, and free games for keeps as long as you keep said subscription up. With an accompanying Playstation console (PS3/PS4) the PS+ subscription more than pays for itself with the free games that are exclusive to each Playstation console that you own.

About the sound & video ...

Out of all the handheld gaming devices I have ever owned the "PS Vita" hands down ranks up there at the top of my list with overall quality. The animated menu system, as well as in-game gameplay looks exceptionally clear, and is damn near PS4 in quality in my personal opinion. Both 3D newer releases, and 2D classics look absolutely stunning on this handheld gaming device. The gameplay itself runs smoothly, and looks flawless even as you play online with other people from across the globe. In regards to sound the small speakers that are on either side of the "PS Vita" console have an impressive output that gives an ambient sound quality of the games, music, or movies you are viewing. Vocals are easily understood, and the music is clear.

About the durability ...

I know some of you out there will be concerned about how well the "PS Vita" holds up against accidental drops, and usage. From personal experience I have dropped my "PS Vita" a few times (major times at that), and it has not affected the console at all. The Thumbsticks did not break off, and the screen did not crack at all. As flimbsy as the thumbsticks are they seem to hold up against some serious use, and abuse. Having played my PS Vita intensely during certain JRPG playthroughs I can personally attest to the fact that the thumbsticks still feel as tight as when I first purchased the console. It is indeed durable for a handheld console of it's make, and model.

Now on to the verdict ...

There's no doubt that it takes a lot of money to keep up, and maintain a PS Vita. You have the $300 cost of the console itself, the $80 purchase for a proper memory card (32GB), and the tri-monthly ($17.99) / yearly ($49.99) PS+ subscription fees. Even with all of these out of pocket expenses though the PS Vita still makes for a damn good entertainment, gaming, and social media console. You get more than your money's worth even if you have the console without owning a PS3, or PS4. Compared to shelling out $400-$500 for a PS4, or Xbox One which are actually lacking currently in the offerings department as of now you will be getting a heck of a deal that you can take on the go, or experience in the privacy of your own home. Games, and apps are plentiful on the "PS Vita", and more goodies are sure to be on their way.

In the way of sound, and visuals the "PS Vita" is definitely "current-gen" material. You will no doubt enjoy watching movies, listening to music, or even playing the exclusive PS Vita games that are released. If you are looking for durability as well the "PS Vita" can withstand a few major drops to a hard surface. I know that from personal experience. With ease of access, impressive features, and a library of content already available the "PS Vita" is most definitely a wise choice for those who can afford it. Whether you are looking for online, or offline features the PS Vita has it all.

2 comments:

  1. Just a small correction- I'm certain you can't play PS2 games on the Vita. If you could I'd just play God Hand all the time. I don't even think it can be done by remote play with a PS3. However, you can play PSP games downloaded via the Playstation Network if they're compatible, which isn't mentioned here. It's nice as there's some interesting stuff on there that's Vita-compatible, like Corpse Party and The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (I basically never play RPGs but played this straight to the end over about 2 weeks, fantastic stuff)... Just a shame not every PSP game's on there or compatible, and physical PSP games you've bought obviously can't be played.

    Have you played Gravity Rush, by the way? One of my favourites. It's got this nice, almost old-game-style 'charm' to it that's hard to articulate. That and the gravity controls are super-satisfying to mess around with.

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    1. I stand corrected. I'm not sure why I typed "PS2". Guess all the thinking about Playstation consoles threw me off. I will correct my mistakes though. Thanks for letting me know!

      I haven't actually played "Gravity Crush" yet, but I plan on doing so at some point. It's still free for PS+ subscribers.

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