My PS Vita arrived this morning, and while it is too early to deliver any hard and fast thoughts on it, I just want to take a moment to run down some early impressions of the new handheld that is going to be the talk of the town when it goes on retail release tomorrow. Thanks to some speedy Amazon dispatching and the Royal Mail, I got mine today, although I know there are others who have ordered with Play.com who are still waiting for dispatch. Hit the jump for some early impressions.
The physical console itself feels very well built and fits nicely in my hands allowing easy access to the two sticks, face buttons and shoulder buttons. However, the most comfortable holding position sees my fingers covering the majority of the rear touch screen, I haven’t played any games which make use of that yet, so I can’t comment on how much of an impact that would have when playing a game. The front screen provides a very clear picture, and the touch response is very good and it has a very well realised virtual keyboard, typing with it is a breeze. The home interface is lovely to use, and while it is a touch screen based interface, I wouldn’t mind seeing it replace the XMB seen on the PS3.
On starting up I tried out the Welcome Pack, a short series of mini-games designed to introduce you to the various features of the Vita, they will keep you amused for one quick playthrough, but they do a good job and letting you get a feel for how the Vita works. The PS Store isn’t fully up to speed at time of writing, there is no content under the Game header, though the Video tab is full of various films and TV shows to check out. I would be a bit concerned about downloading too many film titles at once when you consider the prices of the proprietary Sony memory cards.
The Near app seems interesting for seeing who is playing what in your area, though I am not sold that I will use it that much, similarly I haven’t checked out the Remote Play option for use with the PS3 just yet. The Maps app which was made available with an update that was released today is a nice addition, but I can’t see myself using it on my WiFi only model, I would much rather use a PC for tasks like that. The web browser will likely suffer a similar fate for those of us with smart phones, it is quite slow on loading pages, but it is a nice addition that I can imagine owners of the 3G version will make use of.
I’ve only got the one game right now, Rayman Origins, but it is a lovely little piece of work. It doesn’t use the Vita’s features in an overtly gimmicky manner, rather it is simple things like being able to tap on Looms trapped in bubbles to capture them that are the extent of the gimmicks. Instead, it is a game that stands out on its’ own strengths as a platformer. Having missed the game when it was released on the home consoles, I am very pleased to have the chance to play it now.
Overall, things are looking promising for the Vita, there is a strong line up of launch titles, the few sticking points I can see people having are around the pricing of the console itself and of the Sony memory cards. It is a very nice piece of kit, I am looking forward to getting a few more games for it and trying out the AR cards when games for them come out.
First impressions then are that this is a very good piece of gaming hardware.