Monday, March 12, 2012

PS Vita system review

Device – Sony PS Vita
Manufacturer – Sony
$250.00 non 3g Wi-Fi model
$300.00 3G, plus an AT&T data plan to use their 3G network
AT&T data cost
• 250MB for $14.99, 30-day recurring opt out, which starts at the date and time of purchase.
• 3GB for $30.00, 30-day recurring opt out, which starts at the date and time of purchase.
• 5GB for $50.00, 30-day recurring opt out, which starts at the date and time of purchase.
International data plan cost
• $24.99 for 50MB in over 100 select countries*
• $49.99 for 125MB in over 100 select countries*
• $99.99 for 275MB in over 100 select countries*
• $199.99 for 800MB in over 100 select countries*
I apologize for the long winded beginning, but I think a little video game history is in order before my review.
Being a gamer means many things. Some people think owning a Wii and 2 games that both use the same gimmick hand gestures make you a gamer, others believe playing games on your smart phone makes you a gamer. Don’t make me laugh; gamer’s especially hard core gamers may use these devices. But when it comes down to it they are filling a gap that has existed since the dawn of gaming. A hand held system that provides console level gameplay, and graphics in a hand held device. The current king of the hill is Nintendo with its Gameboy/DS line up. But with their current betrayal to their core customers (please read my 3DS review coming shortly) and what I consider an honest lack of good up to date graphics. A huge hole still exists in my gaming world.
In walks Sony, in 1995 after a falling out with Nintendo Sony decided to enter the gaming world head first. Producing their first console the PlayStation, a CD media based gaming system that wasn’t perfect but changed the face of gaming for ever. I won’t go into detail on how but this solidified Sony as a console game creator. Fast forward almost 10 years 2005 Sony attempts to blast entrenched Nintendo out of the hand held market like they did in the console market with the PSP. In my honest opinion this was an epic failure. Nintendo had just released their new DS system, with its gimmicky but fun touch screen, small media cards and an excellent line of release games. While the PSP was a great system, it was large, fine glass fragile, and used large UMD (universal Media Disks) for everything from games to movies. It became a laptop bag full of parts very quickly if you wanted to bring all your PSP stuff a long with you. Ooh and did I mention the battery life? Yeah the battery life was awful, especially playing graphics intense games. All this compiled, along with an unwavering fan base to the DS created a giant mud pit for the PSP that it never was able to escape from. Sony tried different models, different ideas, but could never get it to huge sales.
Fast forward to February 2012, Sony is attempting another swipe at the hand held market with the PS vita. Below I have broken up my review into sections and then my final thoughts and score at the bottom.
First impressions
While smaller than the PSP the Vita is still a fairly large device. Definitely not designed to fit in your pocket, but honestly neither is the competition. The design is comfortable, and it feels much more solid than the PSP or a DS in my opinion. The Memory cards are tiny, I can express here how tiny but until you see one you just won’t understand. They are easily as small as my 4 year olds pinky nail. Games are roughly the same size as a DS game using flash media now instead of UMD (thank goodness) or you can download the game to your memory card from the PlayStation store for about the same price. There are dual analog sticks now, both feel comfortable to use, and are very sensitive. I am very excited to get it up and running.
Initial setup
Setting up the PS Vita is a breeze; one of the first things that got to me was the lack of the media bar. Instead it has been replaced with a button system that reminds me of the IOS, and android. One of the biggest decisions is which model to get. 3G so you can play anywhere 3G is available from AT&T, or the Wi-Fi model. In my opinion, even if you don’t turn on the 3G right away buy this one. It is optional to turn it on and only costs $50.00 more for the security that in the future you don’t possibly miss out on something. Now the AT&T prices are a point of contention for me $14.99 for 250mb???? Really mega bites??? This makes no sense AT&T who offers mega bites in these days? That being said after about 30 minutes of typing, you will have access to AT&T’s 3G network. I am honestly impressed with how well the 3G runs on the Vita. I connect no problem, and game with the 3G no problem. Best of all it is month to month, no contract so if you decide you don’t need it, you don’t have to pay.
The memory cards are proprietary to the Vita. They are tiny and will be easily lost. Ooh and they are also very expensive starting at $19.99 for 4GB, all the way to $99.99 for 32GB. While many of you will say no big deal, it’s just for saving games. Understand the vita has no internal memory. So to even play a game you need a memory card. Also with the titles coming out as downloadable games, many people will need the larger memory sticks for the games. I think Sony did this to assist the retail stores; people love downloadable media so the stores won’t be selling as many games. I think Sony assisted by giving them plenty of accessories to make money.

I purchased a variety of games to play for my review. I must say the Vita has one of the strongest launch line ups I have ever seen on a handheld. Plus the PS network store has even more available through digital download. Graphically the Vita is amazing; I can’t believe I am playing a handheld when I play. Wipe out actually pulls off the high speed feel through the graphics, and Uncharted golden Abyss is beautiful to look at and play. The AI is intelligent, and the dual analog sticks are awesome! You control things perfectly, and they open the door to games like Uncharted, and unit 13 making moving and aiming on a hand held perfectly viable.
The near function is really cool. I went on a trip during my review (pure coincidence I swear). I was able to connect to 3G and my hotels Wi-Fi with no issues. When I first logged in it told me there where 5 other people playing hot shots golf near me at that time, this led to a small tournament amongst total strangers, it was an absolute blast.
The Vita isn’t without its flaws; the load times go from not bad all the way to you needing another hand held to play while waiting for the game to load. Some levels on wipe out took nearly a minute to load from a memory card. The touch controls on most games while fun are gimmicky, and in some cases such as Dynasty warriors, stops the excitement of the game. The free augmented reality games are dependent on the set of recognition cards it comes with, making those games useless on the go. The unit is still kind of large, making placing it in my pocket impossible. The final complaint is my only real complaint. The Vita has a 4-5 hour battery life, 5 hours being the average for me. The battery is internal so you can’t carry a backup, but 3rd party companies are already announcing battery packs to extend the battery life.
Final thoughts
I am yet to regret purchasing my Vita, I find myself playing it more and more every day. I have played my Vita more this past week than my PC, Xbox, and PlayStation combined. The games are beautiful, and the gameplay is challenging and fun. 3G doesn’t seem necessary unless you are on the road a lot or maybe a student that isn’t near a Wi-Fi hotspot that often. But I do suggest the 3G model even if you don’t use it. The launch line up of games is fantastic. I hope the support remains in place for this system; it will make it a huge success.
At this time I would recommend this only to hard core gamers, or techy people. If you want to play cut the rope while riding mass transit on your way to work, use your smart phone. If you want a powerful hand held, with amazing graphics then this system is for you. I wish Sony the best in their new endeavor and I really hope this one is a success because I really like it.
Final score
4-5 stars

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