I got a PS Vita. Don’t everyone get too excited. There are some nice things about the Vita, and a lot of bad things.
The PS Vita has a big beautiful screen. The resolution is much better than that of a PSP’s. The screen is also much larger. Oh and it’s touch-enabled. So…Sony makes you use the touchscreen…for almost everything. When you first fire up a Vita and go through its setup, you use the touchscreen. Aside from the stupid tumblers (which I hate in iOS too), the touch interface works nicely, but that’s the only interface you can use. No buttons here, folks. This continues on once the system is set up too. You can’t use the D-pad or analog sticks to move around. I really wish Sony would have given you the choice of which to use, or just make both usable.
The Vita doesn’t use the XMB. I have no idea why Sony ditched it. I have a feeling they did it because they want to focus on the concept of the Vita having “apps”. So, much like an iPhone, there’s a grid (of sorts) of “apps”. There are apps for group messaging, trophies, a web browser, and the Vita’s new Near app that lets you see what people around you are playing. Sadly, the app icons are ugly and the edges are jagged and they look nowhere near as good as those seen in iOS. Apps can run in memory in the background and you can force quit them by pulling down on the upper-right corner of the app’s UI. The force quit is actually the best use of touch I’ve seen on the Vita.
Unlike a purely touch device, the Vita’s got a D-pad, two analog sticks, two shoulder buttons and four face buttons. I expected the sticks to be short and stubby, but I was shocked at how small the D-pad and face buttons are. They’re smaller than those on the 3DS and PSP. They’re also a little high up on the body of the Vita and any farther up would’ve started bordering on uncomfortable. The system itself is a little thicker than I imagined it would be, but it’s not uncomfortable to hold. The only thing that will be uncomfortable will be reaching up the buttons. The PSP-3000 is definitely much more comfortable in long playing sessions.
Connecting to PSN is much better than it was on the PSP. The store feels snappy and is as easy to navigate as on the PS3. In a lot of ways, the addition of touch makes the PS Vita a better shopping experience than the PS3. It seems like two different teams designed the PlayStation Store and the Trophies apps when compared to the main menu. The icons on the main menu are so ugly that it feels way out of balance when compared to the Trophies app, because the Trophies app is fantastic. It’s easier to check out trophies on the Vita than on the PS3.
I haven’t got to spend a whole lot of time with the Vita, and even if I had the time, there aren’t many games I want to play. Uncharted is beautiful but Gravity Daze (which I really want to play) won’t be out till early next year. I’m slightly worried that my brand new Vita is going to wind up like my 3DS, and not get played very much.