Happy New Year, I guess, this being the first post on here dated 2013 and all. If you're at all familiar with my blog you'd know going weeks without posts shouldn't seem too out of the ordinary. I generally don't adhere to the philosophy that more content is better. I'd much rather there be a post ever month or two where I actually have something to say as opposed to once or twice a week where I have to force myself to write about something that I don't particularly feel the need to. I was the same way when I used to make silly Call of Duty videos on YouTube. I didn't have a partnership, so I didn't make money, so there was no benefit for me to shit out videos every day. I could put out something when I felt I actually wanted to, and as a result, my soul remains thoroughly intact.
But today, I do have something to write about on here. Since last we met, I've attained an entirely new device for playing video games on. A PlayStation Vita. I didn't really ask for anything for Christmas, so I was originally planning on using the inevitable Christmas Money towards a Wii U. However, since the new Nintendo console is on the better side of £300 (and there's fuck all games for it yet), I decided to hold off for a while and put my money towards a Vita instead. So imagine my surprise when I was gifted one on Christmas. First time in a long time that I remember being genuinely surprised at what I received. I had casually mentioned to my mother that I was interested in one and might think about picking one up maybe 6 months prior, but apart from that, I'd made no mention of the thing.
So I picked up a few games for it, both retail and downloadable. The hardware itself is very nice. Sleek, sexy black, with an absolutely gorgeous OLED screen. It's a capacitive touchscreen as well, and is really responsive in that regard. The analogue sticks feel pretty decent, considering their size. The Dpad is nice (and apparently one of the best in existence for fighting games). The system just feels good. The OS interface itself, is not so good. It's fine for what it needs to do, but there could definitely be some improvements. Being a touch screen, it's inherently easier to simply navigate than the XMB was, but the OS has some really odd omissions, like not being able to manage your save files. The home menu apparently has a 100 item limit as well, which may not seem like a total problem now, but a couple years down the line when the system is (hopefully) more established, it could be a real problem for people who play a lot of games. The use of expensive, propriety memory cards is annoying as well, especially considering the system doesn't even come with one. But other than a few glaring issues, some of which could hopefully be fixed with firmware updates, the system overall seems pretty well made.
But onto the games. I'm yet to amass a vast collection, but I've picked up a few: Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Modnation Racers: Road Trip, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection and Persona 4 Golden. Mortal Kombat and Gravity Rush I also got through PlayStation Plus as well. I'm not going to talk too much about them all (except for Persona 4, which I will at some point in it's own separate post), but they're as you'd expect. Console-like experiences on a handheld system has always been PlayStation's thing, so the games play as you'd expect, though obviously not with quite the same amount of graphical fidelity. Need for Speed in particular has some particularly brutal framerate issues, especially in multiplayer, in my experience. Uncharted as well, while looking pretty fantastic for a handheld game, is nowhere close to the quality you'd expect from the full-blown console releases. When comparing with console releases, I should probably make special mention of Mortal Kombat, since they're pretty much functionally the exact same game. The portable version has taken a pretty hefty downgrade in the looks department though. The character models, especially when viewed close up, are laughably terrible. The game still runs at 60 FPS though, so that's something. Whether or not this is indicative of the system's power or simply a case of devs not being intimately familiar with it remains to be seen. For the most part, the games I've seen look pretty good though, considering the context. Unfair comparisons are inevitable though, simply due to developers aiming for console like experiences on a system that can't handle the fidelity expected of such releases.
But overall, the system is good. Would I recommend one? That depends. Generally, I'd never say buying a console for a single game is worth it, though Persona 4 Golden is that game for a lot of people, and I'm almost inclined to agree with that sentiment. However, the amount of games out for the thing right now is pretty sparse, with not a whole lot announced for the future, it seems. The PSN store has a large back catalogue of PSOne and PSP games that are downloadable and playable on the system, but recommending a system solely for old games from a previous system isn't exactly a ringing endorsement. I wanted my Vita mostly for Persona 4, with a passing interest in some other titles. It's an awesome Persona/Final Fantasy machine, but its not that great of a games machine at the moment. Unless you are desperately wanting one, I'd recommend holding out for a price-drop and/or some more signification game releases.