Portable PS Vita's killer graphics
Mar 08, 2012 (Houston Chronicle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
What do you get when you combine the portability of a Sony PlayStation Portable, 3G mobile broadband and great graphics? You get a PlayStation Vita, Sony's latest foray into the world of hand-held gaming.
At first glance, the PS Vita looks like a PSP on steroids. However, a few notable additions on the PS Vita (pronounced vee-ta) make it much better than Sony's previous hand-held. First, the near-HD screen offers eye-popping visuals. Grab a movie from the PlayStation store -- or rent one -- or slip in one of the PS Vita games to be visually stimulated. Second, the device comes in two flavors: Wi-Fi (like the PSP) at $249.99 or the 3G/Wi-Fi model at $299.99. AT&T offers data plans for the device, which gives gamers a chance to get their game on online, as long as they are close to a cell tower. Finally, the lack of moving parts should cut down on repairs. The PSP's Universal Media Disc drive -- and the ability to game on the move -- were not a great combination. The PS Vita, however, uses flash memory for video games, as well as downloadable content. The device has a small amount of memory for the operating system, but you should buy a PS Vita memory card for saves and other downloadable content.
If you own a PlayStation 3 console, you can use your PS Vita to access the device via the Remote Play feature. I have a top-tier AT&T U-Verse connection with my PS3 on a wired connection and experienced serious lag watching videos located on my PS3 on my PS Vita with Remote Play. I will do more testing before I pass judgment on the touted feature. The PS Vita also features two cameras -- one front, one rear (they both record video and take pictures) -- and has a unique touchpad on the back of the device. The only game I've used it with was EA's "FIFA Soccer," where you angle your kick via the back touchpad. The smorgasbord of launch titles for the PS Vita is truly epic. From the adventures of the dashing antihero Nathan Drake in "Uncharted: Golden Abyss" to the squad-based shooter "Army Corps of Hell," any gamer will find something to love. The inclusion of two analog thumbsticks are a definite plus for any gamer who is seriously considering the device.
Want to watch movies on the go? You can buy movies from the PlayStation store or watch them via Netflix.
The PS Vita also offers social media apps, including LiveTweet -- a Twitter client -- and Facebook, though the app had been yanked from the PlayStation store at the time of the review. You can also get texts if you use your AT&T SIM card in the device as well.
The battery life is decent -- it holds a charge for days on standby. You can also disable some functions you don't use, like Bluetooth, to save additional battery life.
There are some drawbacks on the PS Vita. For one, Sony opted not to open an ambassador type program, which allows PSP owners to rebuy their games with a deep discount, in the United States. The games are fun to play -- and beautiful to look at -- but cost as much as the console version with limited options. While the Trophy information is updated automatically, and you can get your PS3 messages on your PS Vita, it's tight and compact. It's no-frills gaming.
All in all, the Sony PS Vita is a wonderful device. I did find myself spending hours playing around with its numerous features- and not just the games themselves.
My recommendation? Buy it if you have the cash, love mobile gaming and great games.
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