I am a Sony fanboy. That is not to say I am “anti Microsoft” or an “anti Nintendo” kind of guy. I’m not, I love Microsoft and Nintendo has some of the greatest Intellectual Properties in all of gaming. It’s just some of the best games I ever played growing up came from the PlayStation – Resident Evil 2, Dino Crisis, Final Fantasy 9, all came from a time in my life where gaming was an important after school activity.
The PlayStation Retrospect, is going to be a series of articles that detail various Sony gaming devices, their strengths, short comings, and whether or not they could be up for consideration as a potential buy in 2015.
So lets begin by talking about Sony’s second and most capable handheld, The PlayStation Vita.
By 2011, the PSP had reached the peak of both its capability and popularity, with rumors swirling around a new Sony handheld code-named the NGP (next generation portable) Sony was in a position to really make a push again into the portable gaming market with a more powerful, modern, and refined platform to go against Nintendo’s refreshed 3DS line. The NGP, later named Vita, launched in the Americas in February of 2012, to moderate sales, and an decent lineup of first party and third-party games.
So what makes the PS Vita a winner?
While the Vita lacks a UMD drive of the PSP, allowing it to download only PSP titles that have made it to the PSN store alongside select PSOne titles, the main staples are there, Metal Gear Solid (via copying from the PS3) Resident Evil (all of the major numbered entries) along a whole slew of other classics that make the Vita at least a step up from the PSP in regards to backwards compatibility, although the list could be more extensive.
While the PS Vita’s catalog is still growing in terms of downloadable titles, if you want to play some titles that are on the PS3 (soon to be PS4, PS2, and PS1) you can use PlayStation Now which allows users to stream select PS3 games directly to their PS Vita handheld. With an ever-expanding list of streamable games coming to the platform every month, PlayStation Now makes the PlayStation Vita a portable gaming powerhouse – the downside is a somewhat expensive streaming service.
The Vita is capable of streaming PS4 and Ps3 games, allowing for access to your PS4 games on the go alongside your PS1 collection on the PS3 or other media. But the handling of some games is clunky due to the lack of secondary L2 and R2 shoulder buttons and there are a limited number of games that can be streamed from the PS3. However, that isn’t the case on the PS4 as almost all titles support it – which makes the PS Vita an incredible accessory for the PS3 and an even better one to the PS4.
The screen is the one part of the Vita I think is most impressive.An OLED screen is without a doubt, the most perfectly balanced display types there is. With bottomless blacks and perfect viewing angles, the OLED display on the Vita is the best display type there is on a handheld gaming device. The remodeled Vita-2000, uses a thinner design and a LCD display that grants better battery life, but the colors are not as vibrant or as accurate, still the display looks great. The front and back touch screen on the Vita may look at odds, but when you play games like Uncharted Golden Abyss, and Terraway Unfolded, it shows the potential for innovation and solidifies that the dual touchscreens are not just a marketing gimmick.
While the Vita has some extremely good qualities that make it look promising, it’s also important to look at what it lacks.
So what makes the Vita a little problematic?
I know I listed this as a positive point, but there are some negative aspects of the Vita’s backwards compatibility that need to pointed out. Yes, it does have access to some PS1 games that are on PSN, but having only a few available is problematic. Games like Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill can’t be downloaded onto the Vita directly, yet games like Metal Gear Solid VR Missions can be, this is a huge let down, and honestly takes away from the luster of the Vita as a true PSP successor. Some of these games can only be installed, when copied from a PS3 to the Vita, which is way more of a hassle than it needs to be.
This is slightly more problematic on the first generation Vita. The fact that the devices use extremely expensive proprietary memory cards to hold downloaded games (with no on board system memory) and a proprietary charging cable, makes the Vita an expensive and somewhat of a hassle to take on the go. While this is somewhat rectified on the remodeled Vita, as it uses a Micro USB cable to charge, proprietary memory cards is still something that needs to come down in price to be worth the long-term investment in the Vita.
The Vita has a horrible camera. This comes from the company that makes some the best cameras in mobile technology today, yet the Vita’s cameras are truly awful. I never did take a lot of photos with the device, because I found them to be grainy and often distorted. This was made even more apparent when I used WiFi direct to push photos Airplay style to my PlayStation TV. While the Vita came out in 2011, I know Sony could have done better with its camera technology.
So to conclude do I recommend the Vita? Hell Yeah. While backwards compatibility is all over the place and the proprietary memory cards are a massive pain, and services like PlayStation Now, and PlayStation Plus – which allows for free monthly game titles in addition to game streaming – may be pricey on the surface, in the long run, it is of great value with new games coming out every week. If you already own a PS3 or PS4, the Vita is an perfect accessory to take those experiences on the go with you. But what version of the Vita should you buy? Personally, I would go with the first generation. With that much better OLED display, it can often be found cheaper than a new second generation Vita.
Next, we will be taking a look at the twisted wonder that was the PlayStation 3.