So Sony totally blew everyone’s minds with the PS Vita (formerly known as the NGP) at its E3 press conference today (catch up over at the live.ubergizmo.com). We know that the system will sell for $250 (Wi-Fi only model) and for $300 (3G + Wi-Fi) and it’ll be available this “holiday season.” We also know that there are over 80 developers are working at games for the newest PlayStation system, but we know what you’re really thinking: that thing looks huge. Naturally, you want to know how the PS Vita feels.
Ubergizmo went hands-on with the PS Vita, demoing five games, including Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Virtua Tennis 4, LittleBigPlanet, Little Deviants and Sound Shapes and we came back with our conclusions on not only how the new touchscreen and rear touch pad work, but also how the “bulky” handheld feels in our hands. Read on for our quick preview.
Design and Weight
Surprisingly, despite the PS Vita’s large 5-inch OLED screen, the device is extremely light. We left our first-gen PSP back at home, but we can say, we felt a considerable difference in weight. We’ve concluded that the lack of an optical drive (UMD) could have significantly decreased the weight, but we also want to caution that these devices were hooked up to power adapters, meaning they most likely lacked the hefty battery that will be included in final retail units.
Overall, the analog sticks feel good – they’re not too large, the standard PlayStation action buttons are small (tinier than the regular PSP, but about the same size as the PSP Go), but have just enough stiffness to them to not feel like they’ll wear out too quickly and the plastic shoulder triggers are also snappy. The oval curves on the left and right side hug your hands and the PlayStation, Select and Start buttons are all easily accessible.
If there’s any concern on the PS Vita’s size, toss those worries out the window. The PS Vita is a device that you’ll want to put in your bag for trips. It just feels that good, even though it’s kind of large.
Touchscreen and Rear Touch Pad
As you know the PS Vita has a touchscreen on the front and a touch pad on the back. In Uncharted: Golden Abyss, we were able to use the touchscreen to direct Nathan to climb rocky cliffs and in Little Deviants, we played a demo that had us whacking moles with the rear touch pad. Inputting various swipes in Virtua Tennis 4 was a bit confusing (you really don’t know what elements you can and can’t touch) and felt gimmicky, while building levels in Sound Shapes felt more like an iPhone or Android game (graphics included).
While the touchscreen felt solid, it didn’t feel as pin-point accurate as say an iPhone or Nexus smartphone, it was still very good.
Pricing and Release
With the $250 Wi-Fi model, it’s clear that Sony is gunning after Nintendo’s 3DS, which also retails for $250. And with a much larger and higher resolution screen, dual cameras, dual analog sticks, dual touch surfaces, the NGP is going to have a lot of pros, rather than cons when put up against the 3DS.
Sony didn’t reveal pricing on individual games at E3, so that’s still one piece of the puzzle that’s missing. We think anything more than $40 is going to keep gamers away, but Sony appears to have learned a lot from the PSP’s ups and downs.
We think we’re sold on the PS Vita on its price, features and the games we saw unveiled, but of course there are also other functions that can destroy our confidence in the system: namely battery life and cost per game. We love the option of 3G, but journalists who use iPhones on AT&T’s network, we can’t exactly say we love the network. Again, the PS Vita is launching this “holiday season.” Specifically what month and what date, we don’t know, but we do know it’ll be extremely competitive to the 3DS price point – and we like that a lot.