Why you need a PS Vita

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If you’ve yet to adopt Sony’s flagship portable gaming device, the following words are for you. If you happen to own one already, perhaps you’re reading this to bask in the glory that is the PlayStation Vita. Now more affordable than ever thanks to bundles galore, the PS Vita should be on every gamers radar. In case you’re not one for reviews, here are some reasons why:

It’s A Real Portable Gaming Device:

When first announced, a lot of reviewers were comparing the PS Vita to an iDevice instead of judging its qualities based on the core gaming functionality it offered. While they have their fair share of similarities, the differences between the two devices are what matter most. Would you compare a Nintendo DS to a laptop just because they both open similarly? Honestly, I was sorely disappointed by this fact, because a tablet – regardless of its hardware/graphical capabilities – simply lacks the comfort that accompanies a dedicated gaming device, and should never be considered one; regardless of the supposed gaming options available.

There’s something very refreshing about having the option to use a touchscreen in a game without ever feeling forced to do so, and the Vita is mostly generous in that respect. It’s also nice to see that the touchscreen is as good as – if not better than – the newest iPad, and is extremely smooth and responsive. While hard button extensions are available for most cellphones and tablets, they simply lack the ingenuity and technology to compete with the veteran designers at Sony. Equipped with two analog sticks, triggers and the classic controller inputs, there’s little left to be desired.

Interface & Screen:

The new Interface has been the focus of a lot of negativity, mostly because it doesn’t offer the fluidity of Sony’s PlayStation interface; or worse so, it kind of does. Sure, multitasking is very possible, it just isn’t as simple as it should be, and more often than not feels much like a forced evolutionary step forward. I would have liked to see an improvement over the XMB, but it does however run beautifully, is quite easy to navigate and helps the PS Vita feel like a device of today. It’s worth noting that the Vita runs speedily, and requires no time to launch or exit an application. This is especially noticeable when launching a game; even a heavy title like Uncharted takes no time at all to get going.

As far as screens go, the Vita‘s is gorgeous. Games and movies play amazingly – always sharp and bright. It easily rivals the latest and greatest smartphone screens. I personally found the screen brighter and sharper than that of the iPhone 4S, which made Donnie Darko (the movie I tested) look more vivid and realized.

The OLED screen does unfortunately suffer from mild black spotting. It’s noticeable when loading games such as Lumines; a game that has a black lit loading screen between levels, displaying what appeared to be “tears” in the color palette. This issue does not affect the colorful and vibrant screen during games, and it’s unnoticeable when the screen is black (paused/asleep), but it’s worth mentioning.

The vivid and bright colors come to life on the Vita's screen.

The vivid and bright colors come to life on the Vita‘s screen.

The Internet & Beyond:

Despite having 3G capabilities (albeit limited ones, and only on the more expensive device), the PlayStation Vita is far from a tablet or smartphone in terms of connectivity. It offers its fair share of unique game related net-use, such as cross-chat and ghost replays you can share with friends, but also lacks many basic functions. Those included (such as the browser) don’t work all that well, either. My expectations weren’t high for these side-features, yet I still found myself disappointed with a lack of options and long browser loading times. However, the browser is no more than a lackluster “luxury” feature included by Sony in attempt to minimize the amount of devices you lug around. This won’t at all convince you to drop the tablet or cellphone, but it’s not bad for what it is, and works well enough for email checking or Facebook browsing.

The Games:

The initial launch lineup was promising to some, but a major disappointment to most. Games like Uncharted promised a triple A quality title on the go, but delivered watered down versions of their console counterparts; while enjoyable, it wasn’t quite the experience expected by fans. Even basic racing games disappointed on multiple fronts, and the first forays in to first-person shooting were tragically flawed. There were games worthy of a purchase, but not worthy of the initial Vita investment. Times have changed, however.

Rayman Origins, Lumines: Electronic Symphony, LittleBigPlanet Vita, Gravity Rush, Soul Sacrifice, Persona 4 Golden, Marvel vs. Capcom, Disgaea 3, Assassins Creed III Liberation and many, many more titles help to shape the current library. Downloadable titles such as Tales From Space: Mutant Blogs Attack, Limbo and Sound Shapes only add value to an already impressive set of games to choose from. With games such as The Walking Dead and Killzone: Mercenary on the horizon, the future is looking pretty bright.

Killzone is set to be the first great FPS on the PS Vita.

Killzone is set to be the first great FPS on the PS Vita.

Final Words:

Is the PlayStation Vita finally worth your hard earned money? Is it fun enough to be worth the investment this late in the game? The answer is: it depends. For me, the PS Vita was an excellent purchase. I have little time to play at home between jobs, and a ton of time to play on the go or at work. It was a no brainer, and having console quality games only makes it better for a fan of the PlayStation experience and its exclusive titles (many of which are making their way to the Vita). It definitely offers a lot; more than ever even, but at the end of the day it hangs on your gaming habits and preferences. If you enjoy engrossing gaming on the go, or even just minis to play on a gorgeous screen, the PS Vita is a fine choice.

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