Feb 24, 2012

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PlayStation Vita Review

PlayStation Vita Review

The Vita launched officially in North America Wednesday, and thousands of eager early adopters (not to mention those who bought the early release bundles) got their hands on their shiny new toys. Several of us here at Vivid Gamer were among the launch purchasers, and we’ve got plenty of reviews and impressions of the system planned for the next few days.

I know the Vita (even in its WiFi-only form) isn’t a cheap purchase, especially since the mandatory memory card isn’t included, so many of you might be wondering if it’s worth dropping $250+ now or if you should wait until more games arrive (and/or Sony gives it a price drop) down the road. Hopefully, this review of the system itself will help you make up your mind.

I wanted to make sure I covered all my bases, so I’ve divided the review into sections to make it more digestible. If you’re particularly interested in a particular aspect of the Vita, you can jump to a section by clicking the links below:

First Impressions | The OS | The Device | The Apps, Pt 1 | The Apps, Pt 2 | Final Verdict

First Impressions

The first thing that impressed me by the Vita was the box itself – I know, that seems silly, but after the glued-on sides of my 3DS box that made it almost impossible to open without destroying the carton – the Vita’s packaging was a pleasant surprise. Square and simple and easy to open, inside you find the Vita, its USB cable, AC adaptor, AR cards, and its Quick Start guide (in English and French). The device comes pre-charged (although you’ll probably get more battery life after a few good overnight charges), so you can get started right away.

The Vita requires a memory card, so if you didn’t buy one, you might find yourself running to the store. I ended up purchasing the 32GB card (the largest currently available), and was surprised at how incredibly tiny they are. They’re like mini-SD cards, about the size of my thumbnail. This means that if you plan on buying more than one card, they’ll be easy to lose. That’s one reason I recommend (if you can afford it) buying the 32GB card–that way you won’t have to worry about swapping cards (and losing them in the process), and you’ll have plenty of space for saves, games, movies, music, and more.  Even a PSN-only title like Escape Plan takes up nearly a gig of space, with bigger, retail games taking up nearly 4GB if you go with their digital counterpart. That means the 4GB card (while affordable at only $20) is practically useless, unless you intend to use it only for saves of retail games. I didn’t attempt it, but it’s questionable whether deleting digital games preserves the integrity of your save files, so it means shuffling digital copies may not be as practical as you thought. It’s a big downside of the Vita, especially since it doesn’t include any onboard memory, and which definitely increases the cost of ownership.

After you’ve inserted your memory card, you can then turn on your Vita and start the setup process. It’s easy and quick; the only downside is you can’t link your PSN account until you’ve downloaded the lastest update. This means you’ll have to complete the initial setup as if you don’t have a PSN account, then go through the OS to install/download the update, and then finally after that you can link your PSN account. It’s a bit of an oversight on Sony’s part, in my opinion, that the setup process won’t automatically allow you to download the latest update. Not that it’s terribly difficult to do all those things on your own, but it means a bit higher barrier of entry for less tech-savvy people.