PS Vita: Final Thoughts

-Geoff Barry

After a couple weeks of being able to dissect Sony’s new handheld, I have a better idea of what it’s capable of. I’ve learned that SCE has wanted to make their baseball game as hard as possible. If the system wasn’t the controller, I’d have broken a few because of the high difficulty. Playing on the easiest setting wasn’t enough of a challenge, but moving to just the next level up was a devastating climb. I think I’ve won one of about ten games, and about 95% of my hitters are batting under .200. I can usually keep the other teams’ offenses at bay, but just giving up one or two runs, regardless of what inning, means the game is over. It’s just that hard to score. I don’t think the Vita’s controls are cut out very well for a baseball game. I certainly hope that it improves next year.

On a plus side, the sound of the slender machine is top notch. The speakers could easily take over the volume of a large room, even if a television set or computer is on. If I plug in the headphones that came with the starter kit, the sound surrounds me. It felt like I was really at a ballgame, or behind the wheel of ferrari. Each game I’ve tried out sounded unique and ecstatic. No more being forced to read subtitles because the area we were in was too loud for our handheld to deal with. The Vita has the best sound of any handheld I’ve ever played.

As expected, the graphics on the Vita are much improved from the PSP. Obviously Uncharted: Golden Abyss and MLB 12 are brilliant looking, but both of those franchises were known for good graphics on the PS3. Gravity Rush was a game that took me by surprise. While it’s often difficult for new systems to offer games that are visually stunning, SCE got it right early on with this action-adventurer. The color of the atmosphere is magnificent; the characters have vivid detail; and even the environments are electric. There may not be a title out yet that have consumers chomping at the bits to get Vitas, but as long as games like Gravity Rush are being released for it, it will find enough buyers and success. Plus, every game that’s been released for the Vita is available for download. And unless a certain game is on sale at the “middle-man” store, the download version is cheaper, not to mention more convenient to carry. This could be the start of a trend when all of the next-gen consoles become current-gen. 

There are also a number of apps that the Vita offers. The camera is fun to play around with, but there are also the Netflix and Facebook apps that make the nifty handheld seem like a tablet than just a gaming device. I can watch full movies or update my status on the go. I imagine over time that the Vita will eventually offer more and more apps. Maybe by next year I’ll be able to watch MLB on my Vita. One thing I dislike about the apps, however, is the fact that I can’t delete the unneeded ones. Even though I purchased Escape Plan after playing the demo, I still can’t remove the demo bubble from my hub. It’s not necessarily a big deal, it just seems like overkill to have a demo and a full game right next to each other. 

I hope that NHL 13 gets released for this system. I would imagine that sales north of the border would increase slightly if it does. I’ve purchased a few games that I’ve been happy with, for the most part. Although I’m about one 1-0 loss in MLB 12 from having an ulcer. Wipeout 2048 and Gravity Rush can cool my jets in the meantime. Summers are normally the slow months in the gaming world, but I still feel like the Vita needs another solid release before the fall season kicks in. There are plenty of titles worth playing right now, but not exactly enough to convince skeptics to drop the funds on a new system. And what’s up with this 3G thing? If I spend an extra $50 for 3G I get the awesome option to open up a monthly plan with AT&T? No thanks. I’ll stick to the Wi-Fi only option and keep the extra bucks to spend on newer games… eventually.

The Vita has some excellent qualities that will let it compete with other handhelds. Not every game has been polished yet, but I imagine that when the bigger named titles get released, publishers and developers will execute their games to the system’s potential. It’s not perfect, but it’s significantly better than the PSP. I don’t recommend running out and buying one at full price; perhaps you want to wait for the Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation bundle. I’m excited for what’s to come, and hope that it’s the handheld we’ve all been waiting for. 

Verdict: 85%