Many people would say that the era of the dedicated handheld device has passed, with the initial launch of the Nintendo 3DS being less successful than expected and mobile phones and portable devices such as Apple’s iPad and iTouch proving they are more than capable of delivering a gaming experience at a fraction of the cost.
Some people would question Sony’s wisdom of launching a new console in what are difficult financial times, especially after the relatively low number of global units they were able to shift with the PSP GO.
Still, the Japanese electronic giant appears undeterred and upon closer inspection, perhaps they have a few reasons to remain optimistic.
If we look at the unit itself, there’s no denying it’s a desirable piece of kit, put together in shiny black plastic and metal, with a large 5” touchscreen, not one but two analogue sticks, a four directional pad and a front facing camera.
Across the top are two shoulder buttons, a power button, volume keys and two concealed slots, one of which houses Vita games whilst the other is an accessory port. To all intents and purposes it’s a “beefed-up” PSP but when held in your hands, it does feel a little more substantial.
Along the back of the unit is a touch sensitive track pad area, which can be used as an additional control option in some games but whether most developers decide to employ it remains to be seen. There’s also a rear-facing camera and a host of connection ports, including USB, memory card slot, headphone port and the 3G version sports an extra SIM car slot. It goes without saying the device is wireless and Bluetooth enabled.
When you compare it to its biggest rival, the Nintendo 3DS, it certainly appears a lot bulkier but then from a technological perspective, there’s a lot more under the “hood”. This is certainly a console that has plenty of punch but specifications mean nothing if you don’t have the software to exploit it. Can it deliver? The Vita’s quad-core processor certainly promises a lot.
As a big fan of the Apple iTouch and iPad, the one thing that I have never quite been able to get to grips with is the virtual joy pads. Playing games on these devices – at least for me – has always left me feeling like something is missing. At least when you switch on a Vita game and dive into the action you feel like you are really participating.
Compared to most smartphones it does fit more comfortably in the hand – probably because of its larger size – and though there are a few loading screens to endure, once the experience begins you are quickly drawn in.
A special mention should go to the display, which is sharp and detailed with excellent colour reproduction and instantly engaging. You feel like you are entering something special the moment the system powers up.
Launch titles such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Wipeout 2048 go a long way to showing off just what this console is capable of producing but there is still the big question mark of software prices looming large over Vita when compared to its competitors.
Will consumers be prepared to fork out £30+ for a premium title when you can grab top end alternatives from the iTunes store for a fraction of the price and download them instantly?
I see this as Sony’s greatest hurdle in many respects. Vita is certainly not set to be to everyone’s taste and it is going to take deep pockets to enjoy thoroughly but with many titles set to be made availably digitally, Sony is keen to demonstrate a willingness to play Apple at its own game where it can.
They are also looking to market the device as much more than just a gaming unit, with its networking capabilities, video and music and web browsing functionality but at its heart, I see this as the ultimate portable console.
Overall, if you are in the market for a real games’ console then I feel that Sony’s latest baby should be top of your list.
With several key launch titles due on release day (February 22nd) and coming in two variations (with or without 3G) Vita carries a recommended retail price of £230 or £270 depending on which edition you choose. We suggest you shop around, as there are many bundle deals to be had on the web and if you are feeling lucky, then enter our competition as we have a WIFI unit up for grabs.
Day One Launch Titles:
• Uncharted: Golden
• WipEout 2048 (£34.99)
• Everybody's Golf (£34.99)
• Modnation Racers: Road Trip (£34.99)
• Little Deviants (£24.99)
• Reality Fighters (£24.99)
Day One Digital Titles:
• Escape Plan
• MotorStorm RC
• Hustle Kings
• Superstar Dust Delta
• Top Darts
Women Talking has a fabulous Sony Vita (WIFI Version) up for grabs for one lucky subscriber.
To win you firstly need to answer the following question:
What is the name of the central character in the Vita title Uncharted: Golden Abyss?
Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org ensuring you put the word VITA in the subject header and include your unique Women Talking username with the submission.
This competition is only open to Women Talking subscribers aged 16 years and older and any submission without a valid username will not be eligible for entry.
Please note this competition has now closed.
Please note this prize only includes the basic games console and does not come with any software titles.