Let me start out by saying that, yes, I know it's been a few months since I last blogged and, yes, I haven't really been keeping up with other's blogs the way I used to either. I used to always check up on everyone else's blogs when I did my own, but since I stopped doing my monthly blogs I always forget to check so if I've missed out on some your blogs, I apologize. I'll try and get back to checking but we'll see.
With that out of the way, the reason I'm writing this blog is that I recently bought a PS Vita and figured I'd give my impressions and comparisons to the Nintendo 3DS to hopefully help out any prospective buyers. Here was my blog about my initial impressions on the 3DS. To be honest, after playing around with the Vita for a few days it has actually changed my opinion on the 3DS a bit. I still love the 3DS, but I'm finding the Vita to be more to my liking. Note: this about the system itself, and NOT the games. Each person has their own personal taste in games and I can't say which system has better games for each person so I'm not even gonna comment on that aspect.
First thing about the Vita is the system design. I am absolutely in love with it. I bought the white AC III: Liberation bundle and system looks freaking sexy in white. The size of the system is much bigger than the 3DS and fits in my hands more comfortably, which is saying a lot since I have small hands. The back grips are a nice resting place for my middle finger and feel comfortable, but I probably wouldn't even notice if they were gone. They've moved the volume and power buttons to the top of the system and I really like the placement. The face buttons are clicky like the 3DS which as I've stated, I love as it leads to less accidental button presses. The buttons are probably half the size of the PSP face buttons, but I actually like the smaller size better. The Start and Select buttons are a little small for my taste but not that bad. The D-pad is on a rocker now (kinda like the 3DS) as opposed to individual buttons like on the PSP, and again, is noticeably smaller but that's not a bad thing either. The biggest draw on the design of the Vita, and what separates it from the rest of the handhelds, is the dual sticks. Gone is the incredibly uncomfortable 'nub' of the PSP, and in it's place are 2 full-fledged analog sticks. The stick placement is perfect and the sticks are comfortable to use and incredibly responsive. The overall design of the system is nearly flawless, with my only gripe being that the game card slot can be a little touch to open at times.
Then we get to the technology. The Vita features a beautiful 5" OLED display which is bright and vibrant. I've been playing AC III: Liberation and tried out a few demos like Uncharted: GA and Gravity Rush and the graphics are amazing for a handheld. Uncharted looks almost as good as Drake's Fortune did on PS3, which says a lot about how good this thing looks. A huge step up from the PSP and considerably better than the 3DS as well. Next is the UI, and Sony nailed this as well. I had been skeptical of it in the past after seeing screens, but after actually using it myself I find I really enjoy it. Much of the UI is done via touch controls, which I didn't care for at first (and even turned on the option to use buttons), but now I'm in love with. Pressing the PS button takes you back to the home screen where you can switch between apps or close down apps. This functions similar to the 3DS, except that you don't have to close other apps to launch a new one. You can have multiple apps open and by simply pressing the PS button, it pauses the current app and allows you to seamlessly switch just by swiping and pressing continue with the app resuming just the way you left it. Very intuitive and something I would like to see become the standard in the future. The system also features dual cameras, a built-in mic, and a gryscope like the 3DS. These are features I haven't used in the 3DS and don't see myself using them with the Vita either. I tried using the gyroscope for aiming in the Uncharted demo and quickly switched it to aiming with the stick, and I have no use for the cameras or mic either. The last feature of the Vita is the rear touch panel. The only experience I have with it is using it to pickpocket in AC Liberation, and it feels unresponsive at times. Seems like an unnecessary feature to me, but something that does have potential if used right. Guess I'll have to see how other games use it. The Vita also allows you to sign into your same PSN account from PS3 to carry over your friends, trophies, and any downloads you have. This is something Nintendo really needs to get working on.
Closing impressions, this is the handheld I have been waiting for. Sony touted the PS Vita as a console experience in your hands and they delivered. As much as I love my 3DS, the PS Vita outshines it in every area in my opinion. With a nearly flawless design, intuitive UI, and beautfil graphics the Vita is definitely a system I will be using for a long time to come. If you're on the fence about getting one or trying to choose between the 3DS and the Vita (just based on hardware alone), I say go for the Vita because in the end you'll find it to be worth it.
Footnote: An additional thing to note for prospective buyers, the Vita does require a memory card for game saves and downloading games. These things are ridiculously overpriced, but luckily my bundle came with a 4GB card. My suggestion would be if you are interested in the system to try and find a bundle that includes one to at least get you started. The AC III: Liberation bundle and CoD Black Ops: Declassified bundle both include their respective games and a 4GB memory card for the same price as the system by itself so both are great deals.