When I was given a great deal on a Playstation Vita, naturally I couldn't resist. After having a peek at a friends one I was curious to see what the Vita had to offer. Being rather new to handheld gaming, I was plesantly surprised.
Holding the Vita feels great. To be honest, I first thought that it would be rather awkward and unergonomic to hold but it fits really nice into the hands and provides no discomfort at all. All of the essential buttons are reasonably well placed and I can pop in several hours of gameplay without feeling any discomfort at all.
The only really bothersome thing that I still need to get the hang of is all of the memory/sd/usb/game cartridge etc. slots. There are about four of these around the console, one for the game cartridges, one for the memory card, one for the charger and one that I have absolutely no idea what to do with. None of these are intrusive to the look of the console itself (though I don't see the need for that random one), I just tend to open every little slot before I get the right one.
Graphically, the Vita is very impressive. I have the older OLED model which supposedly is superior to the LCD but as I haven't used the LCD I can not comment on this and will focus on the OLED experience.
When playing Vita games, I noticed that the graphics were reasonably sharp and defined, but not quite so as the Playstation 3. For a handheld though it packs a lot of power and that's definatel shown in the graphics. Games like Killzone Mercenary and Assassins Creed Liberation really show it off.
The touch screen, both front and rear, aspect of the screen really surprised me as to how well it actually integrated with the operation of the console, especially in gameplay. Being able to open a letter in Assassins Creed Liberation, Melee kill in Killzone Mercenary or activate detective mode in Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate are just a few examples of the touchpad integration in games. Using it is simple and unobtrusive to gameplay.
The menu is reasonably simple to navigate. There are 3 'sections' which contain apps such as email, trophies, maps, settings and so on. The third section is the one you'll find yourself using the most as that is where the games are found.
A neat feature of the menu is being able to change the background for each section and even the 'home' (or lock) screen. All you have to do is plug the Vita into your PC, and set up the content manager. From there you can browse the internet for backgrounds that you may like, save it and then transfer to the Vita. It's a great way to dd that personal touh to your Vita.
Unfortunately Vita is known to have a rather small library of games and no relatively big titles are coming out at the moment.
After doing some research though, I found that there are a good amount of Japanese RPG's out there and many coming out such as Tales of Hearts R, Phantasy Star Nova, Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2 and heaps more.
The Vita PSN store also offers PSP games. For someone who's never owned a PSP this was a bonus which meant that I would get to play some good classic games that I otherwise wouldn't have had the opportunity. There's also a selection of PS1 games for those in need of a nostalgia fix.
Though I've only really mentioned JRPG's and PSP games, there is still some great games out there for the Vita console. Personally I have enjoyed Killzone Mercenary, Assassins Creed Liberation and Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate, but there are other titles that I haven't yet got to try yet.
This is perhaps the biggest flaw of the Playstation Vita. With the exception of the newest Vita model which has 1GB memory in the console itself, the Vita comes with no Hard Drive or Flash Drive. This means that if you want to buy games of the Playstation Network or have a PS Plus subscription, you're going to need to buy a memory card.
If the memory cards were as cheap as standard micro SD cards (I can get an 8GB for about $10) that wouldn't be a problem at all. Unfortunately Sony decided to force us to buy their special memory cards for the Vita that cost about four times more than a micro SD.
The best way to get around the expensive memory card issue is to buy one of the Vita 'Mega Packs' for around $40-$80 depending on which one you choose. With that, you'll get either an 8GB or 16GB memory card with a download code for 5-8 games. So that's pretty much paying the price for the memory card and getting some free games with it.
You can also swap around memory cards in your Vita. For example, I have a 4GB that came with the console (cause I bought it off someone) which holds PSP games and an 8GB that came with a Mega Pack for the Vita games from it. If I want to play PSP games, all I have to do is swap the memory card around. Of course I could buy the 32GB memory card but who really has $100 to spare on a tiny little chip (and I need to actually upgrade my PS3 hard drive which is a bigger issue at the moment).
The Playstation Vita is a great powerful handheld console that is somewhat let down by its game library and memory card flaws. If you haven't owned a PSP, are into Japanese RPG's or just want to get into handhelds without the need for a massive library of games then the Vita is a great choice.
I'm really looking forward to what the Vita has in store for the future, Hopefully the integration between the Vita and the PS4 has revived interest in it for Western developers otherwise I am excited to see what the Japanese developers can come up with.
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