Dec 2, 2011

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Hands-On Preview: PS Vita

Hands-On Preview: PS Vita


Last night Sony kicked off the San Francisco Vita Hill Social Club, giving gamers an early opportunity to check out the PlayStation Vita. Sony’s new handhed offers a slew of new features, and one of the big draws is the touch screen. The event featured a few of Sony’s flagship titles, some new to the portable space, and for the most part the games shown off were impressive. Though if the games aren’t priced right, it could mean the Vita will get off to a slow start.

The system itself is amazingly light. The 5-inch OLED screen looks incredible, and has minimal glare, though I didn’t get a chance to test the system in sunlight. The Vita is a sizable device, coming in at 7.2-inches, so it might not fit in your pocket all that nicely, but it’s light enough that if you wanted to toss it in your bag it won’t bother you. Some gamers I spoke to thought the device was too thin and made it feel fragile, but I think it feels great and I don’t really have a problem with the size. Ideally I would like the PS Vita to be a bit smaller; I could do with a smaller screen, and the touch screen controls can be awkward with a device of this size. I never liked the size of the PSP, which is why I always carried around my DS Lite if I brought a system with me.  Nonetheless, the system feels great, and while I think it might be too big, I can still see myself carrying it around with me in a sling bag or whenever I travel.  The only true complaint I had with the device is I’m worried about damaging the analog sticks or screen. There’s nothing really to protect it, unlike the DS, so most people will want some sort of sleeve or case for the device.

The operating system/XMB is much different now and doesn’t feature the same horizontal XMB featured on the PSP and PS3. Little bubbles are placed on the screen featuring different “apps,” such as trophies, PS Store, social networking, and the game itself. Everything is easily accessible with simple swipe mechanics, and if you ever want to go back to the main screen, you can hit the PS button located on the left side of the device or simply peel back the screen you are currently on, like sticker. At any point you can easily back out of the game you are playing to check trophies, chat, check the PS store, or switch to another game. While I’m not sure if you can jump from game to game, it does seem similar to most operating systems found on smart phones. Programs can run in the background allowing you to easily switch from one app to another.  It might take some time to get used to the new XMB, but it looks great and works well.

Now on to the games. The meet-up featured a few strong titles such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss, LittleBigPlanet, Little Deviants, WipEout 2048, ModNation Racers, Reality Fighters, and Hot Shots Golf. I only had a limited amount of time, so flip to the next page to see the games that I got some hands-on time with.