CES 2012: Hands-On With Sony’s PlayStation Vita
The Consumer Electronics Show harbored many new pieces of technology, including some from Sony. We got a glimpse at some great new televisions, as well as tablets and phones from its mobile division. But it certainly didn’t forget about its gaming audience, as it had plenty of PlayStation 3 games on display, as well as its new PlayStation Vita, a handheld it’ll be launching next month in the United States. We managed to go hands-on with the device, both in its interface and with several of its games, to get an idea of what it has to offer.
First off, the PlayStation Vita is definitely a few steps ahead of the previous Sony handheld, the PlayStation Portable, in terms of features. It has two built-in analog sticks instead of just a singular nub; it features a fully capable touch-screen, larger in diameter than the PSP; and it also has back touch sensors, so players can slide their fingers around to perform additional actions in games and menus.
The PS Vita’s menu interface works primarily with the touch screen, as you can switch between screens by sliding your fingers and choose options. These include looking at photos, browsing the PlayStation Store (either through a Wi-Fi connection or the AT & T-supported 3G, depending on model) and pausing and resuming your game with the press of a button. The menu system is quite cool, as you can “peel away” pages that aren’t in use and minimize them for quick selection, with a simple double tap of the home button in the corner of the unit.
As for feeling, Sony has modified the PlayStation Vita since its introduction at the Electronic Entertainment Expo a few months back. It’s a bit more comfortable than it was before, with better modified analog sticks for movement and easy reach to both the digital pad and buttons. What’s more, the back pad is actually quite responsive, along with the touch screen, as you’ll be able to see through a number of products.
Sony has over 20 games lined up for the PlayStation Vita’s launch window, with several more to follow over the next few months. We got a chance to check out a few, and here are the highlights…
Uncharted: Golden Abyss – The portable debut of adventurer Nathan Drake couldn’t be better, as Golden Abyss is an entirely unique adventure in the series, combining innovative motion sensing controls for weapon aim (using the system’s gyro sensors) with fluid gameplay, supplied by both analog control and swipes on the screen. But the game faithfully retains the adventurous style of the original PS3 games, so fans needn’t worry.
Wipeout 2048 – A futuristic racing game that will no doubt delight fans with its return, Wipeout 2048 features a number of great new vehicles and tracks, along with tilt-sensitive controls and online multiplayer. You can also hook up with players of the PlayStation 3 game Wipeout HD for cross-network play, which is actually quite entertaining.
ModNation Racers: Road Trip – The hit PlayStation 3 kart-racing game makes its portable debut on the PS Vita, complete with improved control, tougher racing enemies, kart and course modification options that utilize both touch screens and plenty of racing fun for all ages.
LittleBigPlanet – Sackboy and his stuffed friends return for yet another platforming outing, working together to complete levels while also taking part in mini-games. This game was built specifically with the PS Vita’s touch sensors in mind, as you can interact with items on the screen to help your characters maneuver their way through each stage.
FIFA Soccer 12, MLB 12: The Show – Though they won’t entirely make the launch, they are slated for release just after, and sports fans will appreciate both of these games. FIFA Soccer 12 looks fantastic, and plays even better, with full kick control through the back touch pad and plenty of simulation options. Meanwhile, MLB 12: The Show offers superb pitching touch controls, so you can get your ball across the base any way you please. (Batting and fielding options will also be included in the final game.)
Unit 13, Resistance: Burning Skies – Last but definitely not least, hardcore players will appreciate these shooters. Unit 13 is a third-person action game where you’ll have to use military tactics – and a whole lot of weapons – in order to survive. Meanwhile, Resistance is an all new chapter in the alternate history driven universe, where you fight an alien horde in the 1940’s to prevent their domination of the planet.
In addition to these games, the PS Vita will also support numerous multimedia services, including Netflix (which supposedly will be ready to go on day one), Music Unlimited (a streaming music service with millions of songs available) and various movie and TV show purchases available through the PlayStation Store.
Though it’s got a few more technical features than most players expect, the PlayStation Vita is definitely the next level in high-tech portable entertainment. We can’t wait to see how the final unit shapes up.
The system will release on February 22 for $249.99. If you prefer to get it a little sooner, you can snag a special bundle a week earlier, February 15, for $349.99, including a supplementary memory card and the touch-sensitive puzzle game Little Deviants.