The PlayStation Vita & How Sony’s “Doing it Wrong”

Oh PlayStation Vita, PlayStation Vita…. what can we say about the PlayStation Vita that hasn’t already been said about Duke Nukem Forever? As one of the people able to say I’m an (un?)lucky part of the launch purchasing parade, there’s a lot going dreadfully awry with Sony’s new gaming handheld… which is quite dumbfounding considering that this could’ve been the best thing to happen to portable gaming.

The situation Vita’s in doesn’t make a lot of sense because they did alot of things right with the hardware. From the days of the PlayStation Portable, we know to expect people to be up in arms chanting “IT HAES NO GAEMS!” and jumping at any opportunity to cite low sales… but the major difference back then was that the PlayStation Portable had a strong line-up from the get-go and has only improved – and it was a non-stop ass-kicker regardless of what people wanted to say about sales. Trying to make the same statement about the PlayStation Vita is – truthfully – pretty damn hard.

To date we’ve had four supposed “killer apps” which have all failed to move systems, but more importantly is that everything’s been handled and executed incredibly poorly.

First off, I’d like to thank the crew at CheapAssGamer for putting together this list of PSP Games, PSP Minis and PSOne Classics that work on the PlayStation Vita. All the same though, the fact that this list exists at all exposes a huge, gaping flaw in the way things are being handled. You see, there should be no reason for this list to exist because the PlayStation Vita should not be blocked from accessing content. The first immediate thought would be that games are blocked for a functional/technical reason, yet it’s already been discovered that some blocked games are fully functional, so the real issue is that someone made the decision that simple I/O switches can govern what of our paid content we are allowed to access.

That’s just one of many total screw-ups here. If you plan to deal with the PlayStation Vita, plan to deal with Content Manager as well… and also plan on hating Content Manager, because it is the slowest, most archaic and feature-lacking piece of rubbish Sony could’ve ever forced into the user interaction experience. It is absolutely required to be the middle man of all incoming data on a PlayStation Vita, and with it’s restrictive nature, they’ve found a way to single-handedly compromise every form of user interaction, thus cutting us off from being able to use Killzone: Liberation’s epic DLC, being able to use DLC for many other PSP games or even being able to properly play BEATS… and for a “keeping the hackers out” cause which hasn’t even succeeded.

But how about the content Vita does have? Surely if we cut out all that non-Vita content and try to judge the Vita as a Vita – we should get better results, right? Not quite. A trend that’s already long overstayed it’s welcome is this phenomena where developers are allowed to release games running at less than the Vita’s resolution… and what does that mean?

Awful, jagged, pixelated, muddy, abrasive messy gross-ness

To be clear, upscaling is not exclusive to the Vita one bit… and Sony Defense Force specialists will not hesitate bring that up in attempt to ‘damage control’ with this fact. A bit of mathematical failure on their behalf; however, would be that citing the inexclusivity of upscaling completely factors out distance. Of course upscaling will be tolerable when viewing a game system from half a room away – because you’re half a room away (where all the image distortion isn’t directly evident). However; when dealing with something you keep 1-2 feet away from your face (ala: The PlayStation Vita) you get a face-full of compromised image that’s incredibly bothersome for… anyone who isn’t too blind to notice the image distortion.

It’s truly a shame to see this happen to the Vita too, because it has a gorgeous 960×544 resolution screen with wonderful levels of contrast… since Sony wants to be in control of everything, there should be a level of direct quality control making sure lazy developers aren’t insulting the Vita’s gorgeous OLED screen with games that utilize upscaling on a sub-resolution picture.

To address a complaint that, nowadays is sort of generic and beaten-to-death is the price of memory cards. But what’s even more bothersome than the fact that they’re far overpriced is that there’s no justification. If one’s going to pay 3x more than a given amount of memory is worth, the justifying factor should at least be that the memory of question has blazing-fast access speeds… yet we can blindfold ourselves, pick any review for any Vita game and have a high probability that load times/data-access speed complaints will have defied the point of even using flash memory.

You may or may not remember this; it’s the prototype of the PlayStation Vita (from back when it had the “work-in-progress” name Next-Generation Portable)… and this form factor actually made quite a bit of sense. Using a bar form factor would (and does) pose as an obstacle for those wanting to use the on-screen keyboard, and this slider would have not only remedied that, but made it much more portable and practical for those wanting to use it’s media consumption features  (as an alternative to; say, the iPod Touch) for uses such as Netflix, Skype, Internet Browsing, listening to music, Facebookin’ and chatting… things that are better realized when there’s not a gargantuan gamepad on either side. While the PSP Go was, by all means, not a financial success, it was the first PSP model that could be taken seriously for media – and the slider form factor contributed greatly to that.

One would think Sony would have considered to integrate what was successful about the PSP Go – yet instead of resolving the heating issues that ultimately stopped this model from going through, they went with the bar design that not only features no internal storage whatsoever, but proved to be completely impractical for media consumption. Not only that but it’s large size compromises it’s portability. From an ergonomic standpoint, protruding analogs were a good idea, however it proposes the issue that a protective case will then be needed – and with that, any possibility that this could be pocketed without a degree of being ridiculous is gone. As an even greater addition of insult to this injury is that it’s battery life is toppled three-to-five times over by devices of lesser overall volume… It’s like they forgot everything they learned last generation.

What this device lacks is focus, polish and proper execution. It’s too large and unwieldy for the media consumer who wants to chat, listen to music, browse the web, make Skype calls and get on Facebook… but at the same time, the experience is marred by flaws even for those that look at this from a pure gaming standpoint…which leaves us with the question “Who is this thing for?!”

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