So here I find myself, queuing with hundreds of other gamers at the Eurogamer Expo in London’s Earls Court to be one of the first people in the UK to play test Sony’s latest entry into the handheld console market, the Playstation Vita.
Moving with the queue, it was very hard not to get caught up in the anticipation and build up for the Playstation Vita, I promised myself that I would try and remain impartial and reserve judgement about the PSVita until I had a chance to use one but being surrounded by large TV screens displaying the different adverts and promotional footage for the PSVita and being asked questions by members of enthusiastic Playstation staff, I quickly found myself practically giddy with excitement for the new handheld.
Originally labelled the Next Generation Portable (or NGP) The Playstation Vita offers a new variety of goodies to Sony’s previous handheld, the PSP.
– Voice chat whilst watching a video or playing a multi-player game.
– Unlike PSP, the PSV will not support video output or contain a removable battery.
– For the tech geeks like myself, the device features a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 MP Core processor (3 of the 4 cores will be usable for applications) and a quad-core SGX543MP4 + GPU. It will have a 512 MB of system RAM and 128 MB of VRAM.
– Roughly 3-5 hours of battery life for game play, 5 hours of video, and up to 9 hours of music listening with the screen off.
– The PS Vita will have a storage media card slot, where users can plug in NVG cards of capacities ranging from 4 GB to 32 GB.
– The Six-Axis system – 3-axis accelerometer and 3-axis gyroscope – enabling the PS Vita for sensing motion. Along with that, it has another 3-axis compass with integrated GPS and connectivity options such as 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1
– The PlayStation Vita has both front and rear cameras with supporting features such as face detection and head tracking.
– The device will also support backwards compatible PlayStation Portable downloadable titles and comics.
Being lead to one of the Vita tables at the Expo, I was presented with one of the devices, the first thing I happily remarked on about the unit was how light it was, I have to assume that it was without a battery as there were at least two cables coming from the top of the Vita, one (I assume) was power and the other one led to a large chain, securing it to the desk nearby.
I was then helpfully shown the game Little Deviants, the PSVita title I had been hoping for, I realise that most people would have preferred games such as Uncharted or Little Big Planet 2 but I wanted to play a title which would help flex all of the Vita’s muscles a little.
When Deviants Attack
Beginning with a game which utilised the Vitas rear camera – Bots Blast had me holding my Vita up and shoot flying aliens around my immediate area without letting them attack the titular Deviants. A fun experience but I was constantly aware that I was randomly pointing the camera in peoples faces which some people seemed somewhat distracted by.
Moving on I was shown a game reminiscent of Whack-a-Mole, the basic idea behind House of Whacks was to watch a 3 x 3 panel of doors and if a monster popped out facing towards the screen you tapped the screen on the front of the Vita and if the monster was facing the rear of the device, you tapped the rear touchpad. This was made even more difficult by the fact that little humans dressed in monster costumes sometimes popped out also.
This game was probably the most fun of the different modes I tried on Little Deviants, but alas, whilst most of my movements felt natural and accurate, there were moments when I would completely miss the monsters which were facing the back of the device simply because of my complete lack of blind-hand-eye coordination.
The next game was Hole Roll Control – basically a reflex game where I had to guide a rolled up deviant around a small and colourful course whilst trying to avoid the Monsters on the level, essentially it was golf without a club.
I don’t mind admitting that I was rubbish at this game, and not because of the Vita’s response times or technology either, I was simply too slow to react to the movements of the Monsters to guide my little deviant around the course.
Finally we came to Depth Charge, the game which showcased the Vitas gyroscope, the basic premise behind this game was you had a floating deviant in a 2d side-on cave system and you used the tilting motion of the Vita to guide him through to the exit, picking up extras along the way and avoiding hazards such as bombs and spikes.
I’ll admit, I can’t ever see myself being one of the people who would sit on the bus on the work commute and use a Playstation Vita to play games like Little Deviants because I’d probably look crazy but to play games to the standard of Uncharted I think the Playstation Vita has a very strong future ahead of it.
I’ve heard the comparisons to Wii-Sports being made over recent weeks and it’s not without its justification, every new hardware platform needs an adrenaline boost like Wii Sports to not only sell it to the millions of gamers but also, and possibly as importantly, sell it to its shareholders and investment partners.
My time with the Playstation Vita wasn’t nearly long enough but the time I spent with it made me realise one thing very clearly, the Playstation Vita is a completely different animal than its predecessor. This is basically a PS3 in your hands everybody reading this has to agree, that can only be a good thing.
So, is Little Deviants simply a collection of mini games? Well, yes – but then again, so was Wii Sports, every new console, be it home or handheld needs a good release title to showcase anything new that it can bring to the console market jamboree and I believe that Little Deviants does exactly that.