It was almost a year ago that I picked up my beautiful Assassin’s Creed III edition PS Vita at a Black Friday sale. I can honestly say I’ve had no regrets. Between PS+ giving me access to many great games, my PS1 and PSP library, and all the great Vita titles that have come out, I’ve had plenty of games to play. Not to mention the beautiful OLED screen that has made the Vita my preferred device for YouTube. While the system isn’t perfect, the Vita is everything I’ve wanted in a handheld that I didn’t even realize I wanted until it slapped me in the face.
As pleased as I have been with the portable console, I also have had concerns about its life and its potential to grow. But some recent experiences have revitalized my hope for the system to get better. This week PS+ gave its members access to Shadow of Colossus. I was particularly excited about this because Shadow Colossus is one of those games that I’ve always wanted to play. As I booted up the game for the first time on PS3, I got a notification for the most recent update along with patch notes. As I skimmed over them, something caught my eye: “This title is now available for remote play with PS Vita.” I decided to download the update and go grab my Vita from its carefully placed charging dock on my nightstand. To my surprise, remote play on the Vita ran much smoother than I expected. Of course, it wasn’t a perfect experience as there were some hiccups of lag now and then, especially with the audio, but for the most part it was very playable. I know that PS Vita will supposedly have this capability with every PS4 title, an announcement that I was both excited and apprehensive about. Seeing how well remote play works with a PS3 title has me that much more excited about the future of this feature.
Now let’s talk about the fun I’ve had playing Killzone: Mercenary (which I will be reviewing soon). I never thought I’d have fun playing a first-person shooter on anything other than a console. I’ve tried playing some on iOS and Android, but they haven’t given me a good experience. So here comes Killzone: Mercenary to blow my expectations out of the water. I’m not going to talk too much about specifics here as I don’t want to spoil my review, but just know that playing a good shooter on the Vita is some of the most fun I’ve had in gaming recently. The comfortable design of the Vita coupled with the impressive tech under the hood makes for a perfect playground to facilitate a FPS. To see a handheld FPS done well not only makes me more excited for future FPS Vita games (like Borderlands 2) but also assures me that I’ll have a good time playing Killzone: Shadow Fall or Battlefield 4 via remote play — assuming the remote play with PS4 doesn’t have terrible lag problems.
Now let’s talk about the party system. Let’s face it, 360 owners have been holding Xbox Live over Sony fanboys’ heads since the release of current gen systems. To its credit, PSN has come a long way since its birth and has turned into a capable service. While not quite as streamlined and easy to use as Xbox Live, it effectively gets the job done and has birthed a great service in the form of Playstation Plus. Still, there is one thing that XBL on 360 can and forever will hold over PS3 owners: the cross-game party system with voice chat. But guess what also has this feature? That’s right, PS Vita has a party app that facilitates parties up to eight people, with full text and voice-chat capabilities. I honestly didn’t know about this feature until I stumbled upon it not too long ago playing the Killzone Mercenary beta with some friends. The simplicity and ease of use of the party app works well with the built-in microphone of the Vita as well as with a Bluetooth connected device. This Vita feature gives me hope that you, Sony, won’t disappoint in this area when it comes to the PS4.
I want to finish my little love letter to the Vita with some requests. While there isn’t anything I would change about the system itself, there are some other things that I would love to see. First of all, I would love for you, Sony, to stop being so proud of your little memory sticks. I know you saw an opportunity to make even more money out of people, but I think that having such high prices on those things is severely hurting you. Yes, you did just drop the price, I know. But they’re still too damned high for me to pick one up. The point of having a portable system is first and foremost its portability. Portability is restricted when you have to carry all your game cards along with your system because you can’t afford the big memory stick as well as the games. If I had the space for everything, I would definitely buy more games from the PSN store, if not all of them. I also would like to see more apps such as Hulu Plus, HBO Go (which PS3 doesn’t even have), Crunchyroll, CinemaNow, etc. You know, apps you have on your other console?
Anyway, keep up the good work you’ve done so far, Sony, but get your head out of your ass for the stuff you haven’t.
Fate of the Game’s resident Sony guy, Seth