Playstation Vita - My first impressions

Well I finally got to check out a PSV today, and well I figured I'd go ahead and share my first impressions on the thing. Although my time with the Vita was actually pretty short, I still got a pretty good feel of how it works, and what it'll be like playing full games. So would I say its worth buying? Well...

When I first picked up the Vita I was actually pretty shocked. It is very light, at least compared to the PSP and 3DS, and the larger size wasn't as awkward as I thought it would be. After seeing all the previews and after seeing everyone actually play the Vita, the size was one thing I was actually worried about. It is wider than the PSP don't get me wrong, but the it is also nice as thin and the overall layout of the buttons are in the right places. I didn't have to reach far for the buttons, and everything was easy to use; heck I might even go as far as saying that some of the buttons are easier to use than they are on the PS3 controller!

As some of you may know I'm a pretty huge fan of fighting games such as BlazBlue, and since CSX will be also getting a release on the Vita I was thinking about going ahead and giving it a try; however like most fighting game fans out there, I was a bit worried about how it would control on a hand held. Lets face it guys, the D-Pad on the PSP was far from perfect, and the nub just didn't quite cut it either. Sure I have become used to both after using my PSP for years, but it's still a problem when it comes to fighters. Well that's not a problem anymore!

The D-pad is amazing, easily one of the best D-pads I have ever seen, the standard four buttons (X, Triangle, Square, Circle) are smaller and easier to press, the L and R buttons are up a little bit higher which makes it easier for your figures to press, and the analog sticks are TRUE analog sticks! Now most reviews out there will tell you that the analog sticks are amazing and that they are the best analog sticks on a hand held so far; however that may not be true.

Now don't get me wrong, the analog sticks are great, there's two of them, and they work just like you would expect analog sticks to work on a console. The only problem I can really see is that they are a LOT smaller than what most of us are used to. Really I guess it's not too bad, but the smaller size might take a bit of getting used to, especially if you're used to playing on the PS3. At least they're easier to reach and easier to use! (I can actually pull off 421 moves in fighters without having my thumb slide off of the darn thing!)
Overall I'm really impressed with the Vita's overall build, but how are the games?

Well before you start a game you'll find yourself in the new home screen. The home screen is really nice looking (it reminds me a LOT of a smart phone's home screen), and it works really well, but it can only be controlled using the touch screen. Yep that's right, buttons are almost completely useless outside of gameplay. I guess this isn't really too big of a problem, but just like on the 3DS, I sometimes rather use the buttons than my stylus.

Once you finally decide to start up a game, I chose to start up Uncharted Golden Abyss, you'll find yourself at a loading screen. The Vita is a powerful hand held that runs some pretty strong games (heck it's already been confirmed that it can play PS3 games although the feature is locked), but that does come at a price. Yes, as you might have expected, loading screens do take awhile but it is worth it in the end. Really the loading screens weren't too bad, Golden Abyss loaded up faster than Uncharted 1, 2, and 3, but it'll still take at least 30 seconds or so (maybe less depending on what game you're starting up).

After the game finally loaded I once again found myself being forced to use the touch screen on the menu, and then I finally got to start the game. Now since I had already seen the demo playthrough 100 + times on youtube I decided to go ahead and skip the opening cutscene, however I soon found that I couldn't. Apparently even after the game starts it takes awhile for the Vita to fully load everything, and because of that I couldn't skip the cutscene. I'm really not sure if this kind of thing will happen in other games as well, but it was a little bit annoying. Now don't get me wrong, you CAN still skip cutscenes in the game but it looks like you'll have to wait awhile so that everything can get loaded. Sure I wasn't able to skip the first cutscene, but I was able to skip every single one after; it really wasn't that big of a deal.

Although I didn't get a chance to play any other game besides Uncharted I can safely say that Vita games do in fact play like PS3 games. Since I am a pretty huge fan of the Uncharted games I already knew what I should expect from Golden Abyss, however if you're the type of person who has only been playing on the PSP/other last gen game systems you WILL notice a major improvement. Still the game's controls felt a lot like Uncharted 2/3, the graphics were as good as ever, and I didn't have any problems at all jumping into it. It really is a high quality game, but as someone who's used to this type of quality from playing 360/PS3 games, it didn't shock me at all. (It's still REALLY nice to finally see these types of games make it to a hand held though!)

Now I know some of you might be thinking that Vita games are better left on a console since most of the time you don't have time to play massive games on the go; well don't worry. Sure it is true that these games could easily be console games, but there are still some people out there who would rather play their games on a hand held. I myself enjoy playing full games on hand helds simply because I'm not limited to where I can play. Sometimes I'll be watching TV or sitting in the other room while playing my PSP or 3DS, and other times I'll simply be away from home with nothing else to do. Some people just rather not sit in one spot playing a game for hours, so its only fair that they can bring a "full console" style game with them. Still if you're a fan of the old style "pick up, play for 5 minutes, then sit down" style of games, you really shouldn't worry. Just like with the PSP Vita games are portable friendly and there will still be plenty of smaller sized games to play. Just because there's a huge focus on "console quality" games, it doesn't mean they've completely left their roots behind.

Overall the Vita is a great piece of hard ware. It has some great games, amazing graphics, it's strong enough to load a lot of data (don't worry Warriors fans, you no longer have to settle for less than 20 enemies at once, we're going back to 1000s!), and and the controls are great. The only real down side I see is the fact that some games DO require data install, which does require you to buy a somewhat pricey memory card. (At least the cards are good quality!)

Sadly I did not get to mess around with the online play features (such as party chat), and I never truly got to use the front and back touch panel so I'm still not quite sure how I feel about them. Uncharted used them in a gimmicky like way (they were used to preform actions that you could do by also using the buttons), but I do look forward to seeing how creative companies can get.

With the 3DS and Vita being released, this generation might be the best hand held generation yet.

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