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PS Vita review

PlayStation Vita takes handheld gaming to a new level

Our Verdict

For

  • Incredible gaming
  • Solid construction
  • Brilliant screen
  • Dual analogue sticks

Against

  • There's a learning curve
  • No internal storage
  • Proprietary-tastic
  • That browser!

ps vita

As a mobile games console, the PS Vita has no equal. Games look amazing, and that's what's important here.

Fire up a copy of Uncharted: Golden Abyss and you'll soon notice that it takes a good while to load up. Once you're in, you can open your saves relatively quickly but the fact is that these are full-size games, some of them more than several gigabytes in size.

The pay off is that once a game is loaded into memory, you can hop in and out of it at will.

Wipeout 2048's futuristic racing looks absolutely beautiful, with sharp, detailed environments blasting past as you race. It's also one of the games to utilise cross play, letting you race against PS3 opponents on certain Wipeout HD tracks.

Watch in-game footage of Wipeout on the PS Vita as we race Unity Square in a Feisar Fighter:

The dual analogue sticks are perhaps smaller than you might imagine - especially if you're used to the DualShock 3 controller - but they're easy to master and offer the kind of very precise inputs that most hardcore gamers will demand.

Combine this with the ability to literally move the console around in the air in order to change your in-game view, and you've got a device that will respond to the smallest twitch of your thinnest muscle fibres.

sammyg

It's not all about the hardcore gamer though.

Take a game like Escape Plan. It has a dark children's cartoon vibe as you guide little claymation-type characters past a series of slicing, electrocuting death traps. What stops it becoming a simple platform puzzler are its lovely animations and touch controls that have you jabbing and swiping at the screen. You can even 'pinch' the little heroes using the front and rear pad together to make them run.

Rear touchpad

And that brings us on nicely to that rear touchpad. It's one of the things that makes the Vita unique - basically you can control many of the games by touching the back of the screen with your fingertips. It's an idea that's not been tried before and takes a good bit of getting used to.

vita

In truth, we're not totally sold on its ability to enhance rather than confuse, but we do think that this is more to do with the launch games' implementation of the input rather than the design itself.

For instance, in FIFA Football, if your player is in a shooting position, you can choose to shoot in the normal way by lining your player up and using square or circle to send the ball goalwards, or you can touch and hold your finger on the rear touchpad.

ps vita fifa football

The idea is that you imagine the entire rectangular touchpad as the goal, and you put your finger on the spot you want to aim for, and hold it there for however long you think will charge up the right amount of power. It's not easy to master. At all. But when you get it right, it's very rewarding.

For any FIFA players used to the traditional controls, it's a very big change and we had to force ourselves to use the rear touchpad instead of going with what we were used to. The lack of finger triggers under the shoulder buttons is also jarring for anyone playing familiar PS3-like titles so whether it be FIFA or Uncharted, you'll be needing to learn and get used to some new control methods.

But we imagine that as developers gradually get a handle on their new craft, the implementations of these different inputs will be refined to the point where each game makes the best use of the hardware available, instead of using a bit of everything just for the sake of it.

uncharted

For example, in Uncharted: Golden Abyss, to give a buddy a boost up to a ledge, you'll need to swipe up on the front touchscreen. And because the screen is so big, that will usually mean letting go of the other controls with one hand. Stretching your fingers to the correct points on both touch surfaces can be a bit of a challenge and will be more so the smaller your hands are. It's a pain.

We'd prefer to not have to use the touchscreen for things like that as it felt more like a chore than fun. Remember though, that's a criticism of the game, not the console.

And we're not saying that most of the games are frustrating and unplayable, either. Far from it. Uncharted is one of the most impressive, if not the most impressive game ever released on a mobile device. The graphical fidelity of its jungles nearly rivals those even in the first Uncharted game (Drake's Fortune) on PS3 - which is admittedly looking very dated now compared to its two sequels.Storytelling, voice acting, graphics, sound effects, music, score - it's all absolutely brilliant and the mind boggles at what might be possible with this console further down the line.

Some people will tell you you'd be better off just buying an iPod touch and playing Angry Birds, but if you want to play epic games like this, there's only one console in the running and it's called PlayStation Vita.

Tech Specs

Product TypeHandheld Game Console
Graphics Controller ManufacturerImagination
Graphics Controller ModelSGX543MP4+
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Product FamilyPlayStation Vita
Dual ScreenNo
Memory Card SupportedProprietary Card
ColourBlack
Maximum Resolution960 x 544
Brand NameSony
Processor Speed2 GHz
Processor TypeARM9
Screen Size12.7 cm (5")
Screen TypeOLED
Aspect Ratio16:9
Standard Memory512 MB
TouchscreenYes
Processor ManufacturerARM
Buttons TypeAction Button, Start Button, Select Button, Home Button, Power Button, Directional Keys, Shoulder Button, Volume Buttons
Total Number of Cameras2
Height18.6 mm
Width182 mm
Depth83.5 mm
Camera Resolution300 Kilopixel
Memory TechnologyRAM
Camera TypeVGA
Colour Depth32-bit
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product NamePlayStation Vita Handheld Game Console
Product LinePlayStation Vita
Manufacturer Part Number9180692
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing Information

Featuring built-in Wi-Fi and 3G mobile network connectivity1, a rear touchpad, front and rear cameras, motion sensors and more, the PlayStation Vita will transform the way you connect, game and share.

Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)277.8 g