When I bought my Playstation 3 back in 2008, and it had some connectivity with the Playstation Portable, which came out about three years prior, I remember asking my friends if they can imagine if Sony came out with a portable gaming device that had the graphics and capabilities of the PS3.
Four years later, the wait finally came to an end as Sony released their Playstation Vita today.
Some people were lucky to get their hands on Sony's next-generation handheld a week early by ordering the First Edition bundle, and some even ordered ithe Japanese model that was released late last year.
But in the current time of mobile gaming via Apple's iPhone and Nintendo's 3DS, does the PSVita stand a chance to take the crown as the leading console? Or does it prove as a sign of a gaming-phone takeover?
To make a simple analogy, the PS3 is like a portable Playsation 3. Just, without the Blu-Ray discs, video cables, power cable, controllers, HDTV (or in my case, a regular tube). Instead, it carries a 5 inch OLED screen, uses SD-like memory cards for it's games and pinky-sized "required" memory cards. The graphics compare to that of the first year of games on the Playstation 3, best highlighted by Naughty Dog's Uncharted: Golden Abyss. If you remember how the games looked at first on the PS3, and the advancements developers made over the past few years, there is much potential to what can be held in your hand in the coming years.
Cross-play give the player a chance to use the PSVita to play others who are on a PS3 and also allows the user to take their gaming on the go via a cloud save (examplified by WipeOut, Hustle Kings and MLB 12: The Show). Remote play gives the user the opportunity to play their PS3 games, on the PSVita, ending the age-old argument about who's turn it is to use the TV.
Audibly, the PSVita sounds great. THe stereo speakers on the sides of the device blast high quality sound, however the headphone jack delivers a crisp, near high-def type of sound quality that beats that of the 3DS.
It's the first handheld with dual-analog sticks, which give the PSVita the feel of a SixAxis controller (note, SixAxis, NOT Dualshock since there's no rumble feature), a very responsive front touchscreen and rear touchpad, which gives a stronger sense of immersion into the game (best highlighted by Little Deviants and Uncharted), front and rear cameras that are good for a handheld, but decent compared to the quality of the iPhone and any SLR.
The 3G and WiFi work pretty well on it, depending on the quality of the connection of where you are. It's decent at a coffee shop like Starbucks, but would work with no problems at home (unless you have a bad router in which case sounds more like a personal problem.) It will be running Skype thanks to the front and rear cameras on it very soon.
It's also as social as a console can get, with a Twitter app (LiveTweet), Flickr, foursquare and an upcoming Facebook app on the console.
There are a lot of great things about the PSVita and Sony did an excellent job putting in damn near EVERYTHING that the consumers have asked for.
But with anything positive, there are always going to be a few negatives.
First one off the back is the price. That is, depending who you ask.
The WiFi only model will set you back $250, while the 3G/WiFi bundle is $300. Stores like Gamestop are selling the 3G/WiFi bundle that gives you the 3G/WiFi unit, an 8GB card and a complimentary 250MB access to AT&T's 3G network. As expensive at that sounds, Nintendo's 3DS launched at $250 last year before dropping to $170 last summer. So, for those waiting for a price drop, you may see one come summer time earliest. (and for those worried about the 3G service via AT&T, it's a monthly, non-contract rate. Meaning you use what you pay and when you run out, you could get more. It's a prepaid plan in short.)
In today's economy where people are struggling to make ends meet and such, $300 is a lit to pay for a gaming handheld, however, it definitely is quite the investment to make given what you're being sold.
The next part is the required memory cards that range from $20 for the 4GB card to $100 for the 32GB. The games run about $35-$50 and then there's the separate cases, earphones, a power dock, screen protector, etc. So, off the back, you're already spending nearly $400 just on basics, $450 with a game.
The next slight possible issue is it's size. The PSVita is bigger than it's predecessor, mainly because of it's 5-inch OLED screen, so it's not exactly the easiest thing to carry in your pocket. Unless you wear pants that are 3-5 sizes too big, sag throughout the subway and find ways to fit two-liter sodas... then you should have no problem. The lack of a basic carrying case or sleeve also drives up the system's initial cost.
Speaking of the screen, it's not the greatest in daylight. The screen easily glares, making the screen hard to see, and driving up the brightness works just a bit, however you do so at the cost of battery life, which gets you about five hours of playing time on a single charge.
When it comes to the Playstation Vita, you do get your money's worth even for the launch price. I recommend the launch bundle because you get the 8GB card and access to 3G, whether you end up using it or not. It's perfect for those gamers who are constantly on the go.
Despite the current price, there is much potential to the PSVita, primarily with cross-play. The PSVita is technically and outdone PS3 controller and should begin to be used like so as we enter the summer and holiday seasons. Cross play and remote play should come to play a lot more once Nintendo's Wii U is released later this year.
In a world where it seems just as if everyone is constantly on the go, the PSVita now gives gamers the portable high-def gaming option they've been asking for for a while.