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Status Check | PlayStation Vita

Posted on November 9, 2012 AT 12:05pm

With any new system, it’s hard to tell what its life will be like too early.  The Nintendo 3DS, while having a very rough first year, has bounced back decently and solved many of the issues that plagued the handheld.  Sony’s PS Vita has been out of the gate for a little under 9 months, and it’s had some issues as well, but it might be about time to analyze what’s worked so far and what’s flopped.

Well, do we have some good games yet?

As it turns out, we’re at a stage that there are a decent stable of games to choose from for the system with more to come in the near future.  The games that are trying to be portable versions of their respective series, Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation for example, have received a critical potpourri of praise and criticism.  Some truly see these games as full versions of these games you can carry around with you; others view them as failed attempts that leave less of an impact than the full versions they represent.  While I agree with some aspects of what the critics say, I have rather enjoyed my time with these games and will continue to check them out as they come.

The real gems for the system are games like Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, Gravity Rush and Sound Shapes which were designed with portable gaming in mind.  Each of these titles also take advantage of the specific features that the Vita has to offer.  With more games like this yet to come, there is a bright future for the library of software available for the system.

Okay, are the features of the system being taken advantage of?

Some of the specific built-in features of the Vita have been used quite well in several games while others have been locked away and used infrequently if at all.

Many games have the Sixaxis features of the system thus far to really good effect.  One of my favorites thus far has been, in various shooting games, being given the ability to tweak your aim just a little bit using the gyroscope.  This gives you that little extra edge that makes you feel more a part of the game.  The touchscreen on the system has also been used quite a bit.  Sometimes these features feel a little extraneous, like doing rubbings in Uncharted, but when they have been used with the right amount of subtlety they’ve felt quite good.  Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is a great example of a game that has taken the functions of the system and used them, but didn’t abuse them.

There are some features the system has, that haven’t been addressed very much as of yet.  The cameras on the console, save for a few AR games, haven’t been used much at all.  The back touchscreen, while it has been used, hasn’t found its true usefulness for the system.  In many cases, I’ve found those attempts to be a hindrance when I accidentally do something I didn’t mean to by touching the back screen while holding the system.  The fact that a microphone is built into this system is often something that escapes me, because it’s been used so infrequently.  If you own the system and want a refresher course as to what the device is actually capable of, then Frobisher Says! is a perfect game to remind you of all the promise those features hold.

What does the future hold for this console?

There are still quite a few things to look forward to in the near future of the PS Vita.  If you like RPGs, then it would be a little silly to pass up the opportunity to play Persona 4 Golden when it comes out.  With some noteworthy additions to the original game and the ability to take it with you, it looks to be a great addition to the handheld lineup.

Also coming soon for the system will be the games that release simultaneously for both systems.  The first game to implement this will be PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and the purchase of the game for the PS3 will net you a free copy of the title for the Vita.  This will give you the ability to save your game on your PS3 and then pick it right back up where you left off on the Vita.  This won’t be the only game that does this as other titles, such as Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, are already slated to do the same.

So, where does the system stand now?

The PlayStation Vita, like any handheld console, has had its share of bumps in the road out the gate.  Games are steadily coming out for the system, but the pace needs to pick up if it wants to keep up with everything else out there.  There are a lot of unused features that he system has and some of the ones that are being used, could be better utilized.  All that being said, the hardware has the potential, both in power and features, to produce some unique and impressive games.  The OLED screen still impresses me every time I turn on the system and, perhaps most importantly, I’ve been having a lot of fun with it.

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