The PS Vita – What’s The Scoop?
Charlotte Daniels is a freelance writer and tech fanatic working in association with Factory Fast.
Handheld gaming consoles can vary perhaps unlike any other area of the gaming industry. When it’s done well (the original Game Boy remains strangely flawless, the Mario games especially remaining magnificent) it can represent all that’s great about the industry we love so much. When it’s done badly – hello Nokia N-Gage – it can be akin to someone slapping you repeatedly in the face.
What then to make of the PS Vita – the console that will be stepping up to the plate to try and move handheld gaming into a truly mobile version of its bigger brothers?
Fortunately, I’m rather pleased to report that Sony’s new toy is an absolute beast. As well as looking rather sleek and sophisticated, it’s also quick, powerful and graphically superior to anything else on the market.
A lot of the graphic ability that the Vita carries is down to the sheer processing power that the unit has hiding under the hood. For the techies amongst you, that means this: a 32-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore CPU making use of the PowerVR Series5XT in order to keep the visuals ticking over. If the processor sounds familiar, that’s because it’s actually the same one that’s found in the iPad 2 – although the Vita actually outstrips Apple’s tablet in ability. Impressive stuff indeed.
The controls are similar to those on the preceding PSP, but with a rather tasty new introduction: mini dual shock pads. As every gamer in their mid twenties will be aware of, the original Dual Shock pads lifted the original PSX controller from a snazzy design to probably the greatest controller in history, so their introduction here is definitely cause for excitement. As with their bigger brothers, a couple of hours is enough.
‘What of the touchpads?’ I hear you ask. Well, they vary. However, this is largely down to the way that they’ve been used by developers still getting used to the technology rather than the pads themselves – a common occurrence when something new is introduced. (Anyone else remember trying to use the original Dual Shock pads on Medievil? Shudder). Using the touch pads to aim within Fifa is pretty awesome (if hard as hell to get used to), but other uses (giving other characters a bunk up in Uncharted springs to mind) can be a bit inconsistent. However, there is obviously tons of potential in the idea, and developers will continue to get better at integrating it.
One of the most telling tests for the Vita’s quest to offer a full console experience was how the interface itself would present itself. Worry not: it’s perfectly possible to hop in and out of the menus whilst playing even the biggest, most in-depth games. There’s virtually no lag, and the whole experience is very intuitive. However, it’s worth noting that this does mean an increase in initial loading time for games like Uncharted. Once that’s out of the way, though, the gaming experience is as smooth as a good scotch.
Overall, then, the Vita really is a step up. Graphically gorgeous, easy to control, smooth to navigate and with as good a range of launch games as you could feasibly expect. We could have done with a better use of internal storage (the unit doesn’t accept classic storage, only Sony’s own Vita cards), but overall the latest development is an absolute top-corner screamer from the Playstation chaps. Good work.