|System: PS Vita|
|Release: February 22, 2012|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 544p|
Out of all the Vita's features, the only one that feels truly sub-standard is the camera. It's essentially useless for everything except the occasional augmented reality title (I'm looking at you, Little Deviants), because the low resolution (640 x 480) makes it far worse than whatever camera-phone you currently have in your pocket. In fact, the only thing that's more insulting than the Vita's tacked-on camera is the fact that it has two of them.
Aside from the camera, the Vita's battery is definitely its most disappointing feature. Actually, it might even be more disappointing, because you'll probably never actually need the camera. According to Sony, the battery should maintain a charge over a 3-5 hour period of playing time, and that was my experience as well. But for a system that leans more toward hardcore gamers than casual, 3-5 hours doesn't even come close to measuring a hardcore gaming bender. It's kind of hard to call a system "portable" when you're tethered to an outlet the entire time.
Lately, some industry folk have been worried that tablets are starting to elbow their way into the gaming world, and they are probably right. But a rock-solid gaming tablet hasn't splashed down yet, and there's a possibility that it never will. The fact is, until we come up with another type of tactile interface, touchscreens just aren't going to get us the same type of comfortable controls that gamers are used to. So, instead of the "either/or" attitude that most developers seem to have adopted, Sony has implemented both... and more.
The Vita definitely has all of the tools needed to entertain the hardcore gamer, the casual gamer, and everyone in between. But for all of its technical achievements, in a lot of ways the PlayStation Vita feels like one of those pocket knives that are too big to fit in your pocket. The camera is significantly underpowered. The unit itself can feel bulky, and the touchscreen and touchpad often feel slightly unresponsive.
But it's still far too early to tell if the Vita will suffer the same unfortunate fate as its predecessor, and the outcome of that fate has far more to do with the developers than with the console itself. Sony has given developers an extremely functional pocket knife. Hopefully they can build a few campfires.
Date: February 16, 2012