EG Expo: PlayStation Vita Hands On
Sony’s upcoming handheld, the PlayStation Vita, was playable for the public in the UK for the first time at the EuroGamer Expo. After queueing up for over an hour, seeing happy gamers come and go after their play time and walkthrough from their personal PlayStation assistants; the time had come to get my hands on Sony’s black beauty.
Each player chose a paper card at random telling them the game they would get to demo from a selection of Little Deviants, Sound Shapes, LittleBigPlanet, Uncharted: Golden Abyss and WipEout 2048. I’d been personally hoping to get my hands on Nathan Drake’s portable adventure, turns out I was lucky. I was guided over to the ‘O’ table (PlayStation themed button layout) and took my seat.
I immediately felt fimilarised with the shape and form factor of the Vita. Its strikingly similar to the original PSP just as you’ve seen from the pictures. The system has a nice weight to it which doesn’t make it feel too bulky, nor too tacky. My thumbs were quickly drawn to the dual analogs placed on either side of the console. The first thing I noticed was what felt like extreme sensitivity on the analogs. The movement was incredibly responsive, however the size of the analogs compared to a traditional Dualshock controller made for some required adjustment time. I found aiming while scoped in particularly challenging to start with, however this was expected.
As I crept up behind an enemy, I was prompted to make use of the Vita’s touch screen. A simple yet responsive tap was all that was required to stealth attack my first kill. The touch screen is further used in Uncharted by what can only be described as ‘sketching’ out a route for Nathan Drake to climb. The game will prompt you to do this as the rocks on the wall shimmer. Initially, I thought this was just a gimmicky way of utilising the Vita’s functionalities but I later came to be instinctively doing it rather than traditional button pressing. It feels natural and the game responds to the first touch, even if it was premature.
As the level progressed, I picked up the Dragon Sniper rifle. This weapon shows off the Vita’s SixAxis ‘Gyro’ technology. To aim, you had to tilt the entire handheld in the desired direction of your target. This was a nuisance, but it worked. I was a bit disappointed that you didn’t have the option to aim manually like you had with the touch screen’s alternative methods. However, the demo was most likely showing of Vita’s tech.
Now, here’s an important part; graphics. What can I say? The hype is true. The graphics on this machine are brilliant for a handheld. After being underwhelmed getting my first hands on of Nintendo 3DS games, the leap was incredible. The graphics were not far off the original Uncharted on the PS3. The game looked better than some console games. The lighting and fluid animations really did create a portable console experience. I saw no graphical glitches like you’d get on the original PSP and adjusting the camera to get a perfect view was never a problem.
Being able to get my hands on the Vita and particularly Uncharted: Golden Abyss was a fantastic experience. The handheld shows a lot of promise, perfecting the things that made the PSP fall short of true portable console gaming. The graphical power and qwerky controls were certainly welcomed additions. Despite the intial shock to the system, the controls were great. The dual analogs are definitely a winner and it allows the system to have a diverse range of games. I was a little bit disappointed that I didn’t get to test the rear touch pad, but that is down to the game I picked to play.
I certainly have no regrets in either queueing or picking Uncharted. The game and system show promise. The additional, but optional functionalities give players a choice in how they play and the amazing LED screen, coupled with the fantastic graphics truly bring console gaming into your hands…finally.