As far as video games go, handheld gaming has long been the weaker sibling - paling in comparison to the big consoles. Following the death of the Game Boy as we knew it (big clunky brick shaped object with a green screen) and the admirable attempts of Nintendo and Sony’s various DS and PSP incarnations – the rise of the smart phone and it’s easy access and mostly free gaming has rendered these devices largely redundant.
The impending handheld release from Sony however, could be set to change all of that. With enough new features to make gamers the world-over weak at the knees, the Playstation Vita is the next generation of handheld gaming.
So what's new? Well in an attempt to bridge the gap between smart phones and handheld gaming systems – the PS Vita features both Wi-Fi and 3G (two versions will be released) connectivity meaning you can play against other gamers the world over - anytime, anywhere – successfully eradicating the pesky issue of toilet breaks in between serious online battles on Call of Duty. It also allows access to Facebook, Twitter and Skype allowing the user to maintain a constant link to the world of social media without reaching for their phone or computer (we’re all doomed to obesity).
In terms of playing controls, the Vita is overloaded with features. The classic Playstation d-pad and ‘shapes’ buttons are still present, alongside the dual analog sticks first seen on PS2 contollers – and that’s just the start. There is a 5” touch screen OLED display that features graphics rumoured to rival the PS3, and a multi-touch pad on the back – each providing fresh and unique ways to interact with the games.
Next up are the 2 cameras – both front and rear - these help to create ‘augmented reality’ which is the process of superimposing details (in this case video games) onto real life surfaces. Meaning you could essentially play FIFA over real grass, or race cars around your bath tub – whatever takes your fancy, the possibilities appear to be endless. It is with this feature, along with the social connectivity capabilities that really sets the PS Vida apart from the competition.
As with any handheld gaming device, the main gripe is generally carrying the thing and a sufficient amount of games around without the need for a ludicrously big carry bag. Well luckily Sony have thought of that as well and they’ve managed to squeeze the games onto small flash memory cards – much like the ones used in digital cameras. You will also be able to play a selection of previous PSP games and PS one classics that can be downloaded via the Playstation store.
With a release date of Feburary 22nd, an RRP of £279.99 (3G) and £229.99 (Wi-Fi) and over 80 games already in production including FIFA, Wipeout and Call of Duty – the Vita is sure to cause a stir among avid gamers upon it’s release. Whether it can revive handheld gaming systems to the glory days of Tetris on the Game Boy and pull people away from Angry Birds – well that is yet to be seen.