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PlayStation Vita Impressions

Posted on Tuesday, June 7 @ 00:40:30 Eastern by

The PlayStation Vita has been officially named, no longer the Next Generation Portable and only known as the PSP2 in our dreams. Sony's new handheld device is surprising in more than one way.

You already know about the PlayStation Vita's 5 inch OLED screen. You probably also already know about the front and back touch panels, the front and back cameras, and the dual analog sticks. Sony revealed that the PlayStation Vita will be priced at $249 and $299 for the Wi-Fi and 3G/Wi-Fi versions respectively.

I got our grubby hands on the PlayStation Vita tonight and had the chance to play five different games. First up was LittleBigPlanet for the Vita. LittleBigPlanet includes all of the customizable outfits and level designing you've come to know and love. In addition to the traditional dualshock-esque controls, LittleBigPlanet for the Vita allows you to touch the screen to use different level mechanics. The touch screen was responsive and reacted to every poke, prod, and flick. Look for further LittleBigPlanet impressions this week.

Next was Virtua Tennis for the Vita. This title allowed me to switch from traditional controls to touch controls on the fly. If I wanted to control our athlete with the left stick and swipe with my fingers to hit the ball back across the court, that was fine. The rep also informed me that swiping with two fingers with the correct timing would smash the ball back at the opponent. The multitouch capabilities of the PS Vita's front screen were just as responsive as when swiping with one finger.

Little Deviants followed Virtua Tennis and put a spotlight on the PlayStation Vita's rear touch panel and gryosensor. The first game put enemies all around us with the rear camera, a la Face Raiders. The right trigger fired away at the enemies and every downed enemy racked up further points. The next mini-game was a Whack-a-Mole style game where enemies would face forward and backward. If the little deviants were facing backwards, you'd have to hit the back panel. After a couple of misses it was easy to become oriented to the back touch panel.

While I didn't have an opportunity to craft a level with LittleBigPlanet on the Vita, Sound Shapes did allow me to create a musically oriented level where pick-ups would add notes or beats to the soundtrack. Placing hazards and platforms was a snap with the pinch and pull abilities of the front touchscreen and the ability to move elements on the fly with the rear touch panel. I'm not one for generating my own levels and content, but Sound Shapes made the best impression by showing how easy creation could be.

Finally, I got my hands on Uncharted: Golden Abyss which pushed the graphical abilities of the Vita and shows off the dual analog sticks. Uncharted looked like... Uncharted, albeit on a much smaller screen and with a much smaller level of fidelity. While the dualshock controls felt natural and responsive, the reps showing off the game also wanted me to try the Vita's touch capabilities like touch-brawling, touch climbing, and tilt jumping. Having two analog sticks felt great, but I can't say you'll want to abandon traditional Uncharted controls for the Vita's touchscreen.

One thing I noticed when picking up the PlayStation Vita was that the unit was extremely light, certainly lighter than any PSP (not including the PSPgo). While this may have been because there was no battery pack installed in these demo units, I would hope that the Vita would feel more sturdy at a $249 price point.

Remember to check back with Game Revolution for more PlayStation Vita coverage all week at E3 2011. We'll be hands on with a lot more games and you can expect further impressions and previews of everything out of Sony's E3 booth.
Tags:   ps3, sony, PS Vita
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