A Bunch Of Facts You May Not Know About The Vita
The Vita is only a few months away here in the states, but we’ve got the Vita in the Game Informer offices, and I was the lucky editor who got to take it home over the holiday break. I’ve been able to spend some quality time with the device, and I wanted to point out a few things that make the handheld great, and a few that make the handheld not so great.
The control stick is really close to the X button
Getting your thumb on the X button without accidently pushing the control stick is difficult. Among the demos and games I played around with, it never caused a major problem, but I did have to consciously rotate my thumb to lay horizontally above the control stick. It may be an issue for gamers with larger hands, or swollen thumbs from accidentally hammering it while hanging a framed picture. Sony needs to account for its carpenter demographic, and I fear they may have overlooked that whole group.
Accidentally touching the touch-screen is common
Much like the control sticks’ proximity to the X button, it never caused a huge problem, but I did find myself accidentally touching the touch screen all the time. In the Uncharted demo on the system, there is a sniping section. You pull up the sites with the right shoulder button, and zoom in and out with a slider on the right side of the touch screen. You can use the back panel to adjust the zoom as well. I played the demo a few times, and the first few times, I found myself zooming in and out by accident frequently. As long as you are conscious of the sensitivity of the screen though, it seems like something you can get used to.
You have to use the touch screen for menu navigation
This one surprised me. All menu navigation performed outside games on the Vita OS is done entirely via touch screen. You can’t use the buttons to select games, or open the assorted applications, it’s all on the touch screen. Initially, it seemed like the Vita was going to be a handheld gaming device with touch screen options, but the more I play with it, the more it feels like a touch-screen device with handheld gaming options.
Gravity Rush is awesome
Uncharted is technically impressive, but I have already played it before. I know what to expect. Gravity Rush, however, is completely new and incredibly cool. It has standard melee combat, but you can fling your character around the world by manipulating gravity, and it feels great. I can’t wait to partake in another adventure with Nathan Drake, but Gravity Rush is the reason I want my own Vita.
Remote play is still disappointing and laggy
Vita offers the ability to control your PlayStation 3 with your Vita, and even let you play some PlayStation 3 games using the Vita as a controller and screen. It sounds as amazing as it did when it was introduced on the PSP, and it’s just as laggy and disappointing as it was on the PSP. It’s an impressive technical feat, but I can’t imagine myself ever actually playing a PlayStation 3 game remotely with my Vita. It just doesn’t work well enough.
However, I full expect the connectivity between Vita and PlayStation 3 to get better and better, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for these devices.
Closing games and applications automatically creates a shortcut in the home menus
You can remove these shortcuts at your leisure, but if you wanted to, you could have shortcuts to almost every application and every game you’ve played available to you. You just have to swipe from right to left to access these shortcuts. To remove them, you just peel them off of your screen by swiping from the upper-right toward the bottom-left. It sounds a bit confusing in text, but it is very intuitive when you encounter it in person, I promise.
There are built in minigames with trophies
Perhaps taking a cue from the built in game options of the 3DS, the Vita has Welcome Park. The games are simple, but interesting, and they show off the assorted capabilities of the Vita, and they offer Trophies. One game tasks the player with finding faces in nature and everyday objects. I was only able to find one.
The Vita is friendly to Trophy gatherers
Along with the traditional alerts when you gain trophies during games, you also get an alert when you close your game by hitting the home button. When the game shuts down, an alert pops up in the upper-right hand corner reminding you of all the Trophies you gathered during that play time. You can then tap the icon and be taken directly to the Trophy screen to marvel at your digital spoils.
There is some required touch-screen stuff in Uncharted
Somewhat cementing the idea that the Vita is a touch screen device with handheld game options, Uncharted has some required touch-screen integration. The demo does not represent the final game, so that could change, but there were a number of context sensitive moments that required the player to use the touch screen. In the demo I used the touch screen to machete my way through a hanging cloth, hoist a partner up to an out of reach ladder, and navigate all of the menus.
Be sure to check out the photo gallery below full of high resolution pictures of the handheld and size comparison photos of the Vita next to random objects I found around my house. This gallery is presented by Gordon Freeman for no reason other than my Half-Life mouse-pad seemed like as good a backdrop as any.