We have had to wait a little longer than our Japanese counterparts, but the Sony PS Vita portable games console has finally landed in the UK bringing with it hopes of breathing new life into the handheld gaming market.
Our PS Vita review is already live and we’ve been busy over the last few months checking out the best PS Vita games and seeing how it compares with the Nintendo 3DS, but it is now time for you to decide whether you will stump up the cash to buy one.
Helping you decide whether the Sony handheld should be in your life, we run down 10 things that you need to know about the PS Vita.
1. There will be plenty of games at launch
We were perhaps not the only ones left massively underwhelmed by Nintendo’s choice of 3DS launch titles, but it doesn't seems like Sony will be making that mistake announcing over 30 titles available as the Vita lands in shops. Big name titles like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, FIFA Soccer, WipEout 2048, Rayman Origins and Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 make the cut, while a range of augmented reality games will also be available to download for free from the AR Suite.
2. It will run a bit like the Apple iPhone 4S
Under the hood, the Vita packs a 2GHz quad core ARM Cortex A9 processor, which is similar to the 1GHZ dual-core ARM Cortex A9 chip found inside the latest Apple smartphone, which should ensure a similarly considerable zip in overall performance. Both devices also boast 512MB RAM which is by no means impressive, but should see the type of multi-tasking performance we've seen with the 4S.
3. You can play mobile games and PlayStation One games
Remember the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play? Launched last year it was supposed to be the PlayStation phone we were so desperate to see made for years. The Play didn’t exactly set the smartphone world alight, but there was a glimmer of hope in the form of the PlayStation Suite platform which the Vita supports. This means you will be able to play a host of mobile games, PlayStation One titles ported for Suite supporting devices and further down the line the possibility of playing PS2 games on your Vita.
4. Don’t throw away your UMD games just yet…
For those of you who have kept hold of UMD games from previous PSP models, Sony will be introducing a UMD Passport scheme that will let you download digital versions of your games at a discounted price. Sony has yet to confirm when this will be coming to the UK and how many games it will support, but this is good news for those who are invested alot of their money in UMDs.
5. PS Vita digital games will be more expensive than physical Vita games
For US and Japan PS Vita launches, Sony opted to offer digital copies of Vita games at a cheaper price compared to physical versions. According to MCV, PS Vita games in the UK are on average more expensive when downloaded through PSN. For example, FIFA and F1 2011 are both priced in at £44.99 but are around £10 cheaper when purchased at online retailers. So the advice to Vita owners is to check the PlayStation Store as well as high street shops and online stores before buying your games.
6. The PS Vita will play nice with Facebook and Twitter
As it seems is customary with most devices these days, the Vita will have plenty of social networking support. Twitter and Facebook will be available as apps as will location sharing service Foursquare and photo-sharing site Flickr. All of the apps will be available for free. Sony will also be introducing is own social features which include a Party chat mode and Near, which lets you exchange virtual gifts with Vita owners near by.
7. Don’t lose your PS Vita games!
The Vita lacks internal memory so you will be required to invest in memory cards that are worryingly on the small. When we say small we mean that it could easily be left in a pair of jeans heading for the washing machine. Available in 4GB (17.99), 8GB (£31.99) and 16GB (£44.99), it looks like UK Vita owners will not be able to buy the bigger 32GB cards. When you consider that Uncharted: Golden Abyss requires 4GB of storage, you might well need to consider investing in some memory cards when you decide to buy your Vita.
8. The Vita will augment reality just like the 3DS
If you’ve spent some time with the Nintendo 3DS, you’ll probably remember the AR cards packed in the box that came to life using the console’s camera. Sony have also embraced all things augmented reality using rear and front-facing cameras to deliver WAAR (wide area augmented reality). There is already a series of games that have demonstrated its capabilities including Reality Fighters and a impressive Table Football game which suggests it could be a more impressive offering on the Sony portable.
9. It will cost about as much as a PS3
So how much will the PS Vita cost you? Well, if you are buying the Wi-Fi model then you can expect to pay around £229.99 and for a 3G model £279.99. If you head to Asda you can get a PS Vita for just £197 making it a sub £200 purchase. If you are willing to part with your current console love, Gamestation is offering a range of trade-in offers which includes trading in your 320GB PS3 or 250GB Xbox 360 and paying just £79.99 for a PS Vita Wi-Fi model.
Vodafone will be the network carrier in the UK for the Vita and currently offer the 3G model in a special console bundle which is priced in at £279 and comes with a free 4GB memory stick, and a free digital copy of WipEout 2048 when you first top up £5.
10. Sony almost said no way to rear control
One of the most unique Vita features that had yet to be seen on any portable gaming device previously, is the capacitive rear touch panel. With the aim of giving ultimate control without the need to get your grubby hands on the OLED touchscreen display, it was something that developers considered ditching with concerns that it might ramp up costs to make the Vita. Gladly it has stayed and in the time we have spent with it, clearly offers a unique controller experience.