With the launch of the Sony PS Vita less than two weeks away for customers who have ordered the First Edition Bundle, and a little less than three weeks away for those who pre-ordered another version or are simply waiting to purchase it until launch, there are now Demo units popping up at some stores. I can only really speak for my area when saying this, as I’m not sure how prevalent Demo units may have been in metropolitan areas such as Chicago or New York. Around here, we have just gotten the opportunity to play a real PS Vita at one of the local participating retailers. I went to scope one out the other day and found one at my nearby GameStop, and they had just received it that day. It was nice to be able to hold one in my hands to see and feel how it works.
There are no doubts about it, the PS Vita is BIG. Measuring the front of the device vertically, it is “taller” than the original PSP and perhaps a little wider, too, but don’t let this dissuade you from purchasing it. It is actually more comfortable in-hand than the PSP, in my opinion. The design is so ergonomic that it fit perfectly in my hands and I didn’t feel like I was fumbling for any of the buttons. It is also extremely light. I double-checked with the retailer, while it is hooked up to external power so that it is continuously charging, the battery is installed in it. It’s also hooked up to a dock and an anti-theft tether, so it might be even lighter in reality than it is in-store. The screen is large, with beautiful color dimensions and gorgeous crisp graphics. A few seconds of running Uncharted confirmed that the Vita can indeed perform graphically on a level equivalent to the PS3.
Unfortunately, the Demo unit only had demo versions of games installed, so I was unable to evaluate the full aspects of any one game. What I can say, though, is that I played a few minutes of “Little Deviants” because I was dying to try out the rear touchpad. While the game’s loading sequence seemed a little slow, it is entirely possible that it is because of the fact that it was after all a Demo unit and was loaded with a bunch of game demos and didn’t have a memory card installed. After loading the level, I jumped into the tutorial. The goal was to push “bad guys” out of the doors of the barn and leave the people and little deviants alone. If the baddies were facing outward, tap them on the rear touchpad to knock them down. If they were facing the other direction, tap them on the touch screen. The rear touchpad is situated in such a place that it wasn’t difficult at all to make my movements correspond with the exact location of the baddie on the front of the device, it was intuitive. It was also extremely responsive; as much if not more so than the touch screen itself.
I had my reservations about the Vita, regarding it’s size and the probability that it will be redesigned for a slimmer, lighter frame later on as all portable handhelds are these days. After getting the chance to play with the Demo at GameStop, I can’t wait for my PS Vita to arrive. I will be writing a full analysis, with photos, when I receive mine on February 15 and will then begin reviewing games for the system as I get them. Those of our readers near Battle Creek can test out the Vita at the GameStop location on B Drive, others can call their local GameStop or Best Buy locations to see if they have a Demo set up yet.