Power of a console in your pocket

The hype surrounding it has been frenzied for months, and it is finally here – well, the Japanese version at least. Say hello to the Playstation Vita (PS Vita), the newest handheld gaming system in the market, and the spiritual successor to Sony’s Playstation Portable (PSP).

To the untrained eye, this sleek new device looks almost identical to its predecessor, but trifle with it for a while, and it soon becomes apparent that this is a completely different machine altogether.

For starters, the PS Vita comes jam packed with new technology that is used both for gaming, as well as for social and entertainment purposes.

As opposed to the single analog stick of the PSP, the PS Vita sports two, giving you far more control. These definitely make certain genres of games, like shooters, more playable on the PS Vita – but wait, the control options do not end just yet.

The PS Vita features an OLED touch multi-touch screen that impresses both in terms of visuals and responsiveness. More intriguing is the inclusion of a rear touch panel. The black opaque panel covers the entire rear of the PS Vita, and add a new level of interactivity to the device.

The rear touch panel adds an extra dimension of control to the PS Vita.

3G and Wi-Fi connectivity allow games to be taken online anytime, and also makes social networking possible on the PS Vita. So far, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Skype applications have been made available on the PS Vita.

Front and rear cameras make video chat possible, and are even integrated into the gameplay of certain games. However, the cameras are one of the low points of the overall PS Vita experience, producing images of sub-par quality. This is exceptionally disappointing considering how vibrant and stunning the OLED screen quality is.

For those who have doubted the quality of games on the PS Vita, prepare to be amazed. Thanks to its four-core processor and graphic processing unit, the handheld device boasts graphics that are almost on par with those seen on the Playstation 3. As far as handhelds go, the PS Vita is undoubtedly the graphical powerhouse of the lot.

Forget what you know about gaming – the PS Vita utilises both traditional analog control as well as touch features.

Unlike the clunky UMDs that PSP games came in, the games on the PS Vita come in compact, lightweight memory cards. These are much more convenient to bring around, but seem a little on the fragile side and can be misplaced all too easily. The same goes for the memory cards to save game data, which manage to be even smaller than the ones the games come in.

Power up the device, and you will be greeted by a brand new user interface. Gone is the traditional XrossMediaBar (XMB) long-time Playstation gamers will be acquainted with. In its place lies an interface that looks and feels more natural.

Applications and icons are suspended in “bubbles” on the screen, and a simple tap on the screen selects them. To move to a different page on the screen, just “peel” the page down from the top right of the screen. The PS Vita even comes loaded with a series of mini games aimed at teaching users how to use to plethora of new features packed into it.

It has its flaws, but the PS Vita has bags of potential. Instead of opting for a slim, lightweight gaming device like many of its competitors, Sony decided to make the PS Vita a device built for gaming, and they definitely succeeded. The PS Vita is still lightweight, and it will still fit in a (big) pocket, but it knows that it is a gaming machine, and it does its job exceptionally well.

The PS Vita will be available on Feb 22  for S$399.

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About S Shiva

I'm a final year student in Temasek Polytechnic's Diploma in Communications and Media Management. I also work freelance as a video game reviewer for Singapore's TODAY newspaper. I have been gaming for over a decade, and own quite a few video games that I keep in a special shelf. Aside from gaming, I love writing, playing the guitar and aimlessly surfing the Internet.

Posted on January 4, 2012, in Tech and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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