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 MULTIFORMAT FEATURE

Top 5 best reasons PS Vita will totally outshine PSP

Bigger, better brother
 
PlayStation Vita Multiformat, thumbnail 1
The PSP is a great handheld that unfortunately never got the recognition it deserved in the wider gaming space.

Perhaps, it was too focused on 'core' gamers while the DS was getting people from all walks of life involved in electronic entertainment? Maybe, it was too expensive at launch? Maybe, piracy crippled it from a developer's perspective, resulting in fewer games for the platform?

With Sony's second portable console, the PS Vita, though, there's a chance for the company to right the wrong turns it took with the PSP, and we think it's very likely Sony will.

Here are our top five reasons the Vita will outshine the PSP...



Being social

The PSP did eventually get Skype for users to try out once, realise how much of a hassle setting everything up was, and then never use again. Otherwise, its forays into the social world were sadly lacking.

The Vita is different: connecting with friends is a high priority for Sony on this platform. The first of Sony's main social initiatives is Near. With this pre-installed software, you'll be able to see who's in your local area, see what they're playing, swap game information, and even open up new content for the titles you already own.

Soon after Vita goes on sale in the US and Europe, a bevy of well-established social networking services will launch apps on the device, including Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter. So, on your shiny new Vita, you'll be able to see 'hilarious' pictures of people's children, track your mates in real time, and see what the internet is furious about today.

Skype will also make a return, taking advantage of the Vita's built-in cameras and microphones. Because of these on-board bits of tech, the likelihood of using Skype on a day-to-day basis suddenly increases manifold. With Party chat and the PSN's messaging service in full effect, too, playing games on the go will have never felt more friendly.



Taking advantage of digital downloads

Every game that we've had through for review so far has been digital. Uncharted: Golden Abyss, WipEout 2048, Everybody's Golf, and more have all been delivered to us in download form. The Japanese Store is also bountiful, full of games to grab right off the bat.

If there's any indication that Sony is taking the digital route to market seriously, it's that it's putting so much weight behind its launch titles being available in this manner. A far cry from the PSP digital download experience, even when the PSPgo launched.

From the fact that the pricing structure for Vita games isn't as rigid as the PSP's early catalogue, to the dabbling with flexible pricing on the PlayStation Store recently, it's safe to assume that the company is well aware that digital can be priced differently from retail.

It's easy to imagine the Minis service - which has witnessed some great games of late - taking off on Vita. A device that's always connected can access more bite-size content more readily, so publishers can put out smaller experiences with greater confidence regarding visibility.

More convenience, a wider array of prices, and a better choice in terms of time investment can only be good for a platform, and we'll see that with Vita as it moves forward.



Full control

One of the major complaints about the PSP has been that it attempts to mimic full console experiences without providing the precision of controls those titles need. A single nub instead of two full analogue sticks held games like Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker back from realising their full potential.

Vita's plethora of input methods changes this for the better, not least because the system is much closer in design to the Sixaxis controller of the PlayStation 3, with its dual-stick setup. It makes things like camera control more intuitive, and first-person / third-person action games are now much better suited to Sony's portable platform.

Yet, it's surely the touchscreen that will open up the system to a broader audience. Now, classic iOS games can make the jump to the system without compromise: no more slightly borked ports of Angry Birds hampered by the traditional thumbstick controls.

The Vita's touchscreen helps out in more ways than that, though: it makes simple things like entering text to search a website, flicking through a digital game manual, or browsing the Store much more fluid. These may seem like small improvements individually, but combined they add significant value to the overall experience.



More games, better games

There isn't a chance Sony will let the rampant piracy that plagued the PSP - not least in discouraging developers to produce games for it - recur on the Vita platform. A more robust system from Sony is likely to make for plentiful store shelves as the audience interested in gaming grows.

It's reputedly easier to port home console efforts to the system, as demonstrated by Hideo Kojima's tech demo of Metal Gear Solid 4 running on the device when it was unveiled, and popular console titles such as Virtua Tennis 4 and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 getting reworked for the Vita.

The new control schemes noted above will also boost the number of potential ports, as will the backwards compatibility with PSP and other PlayStation legacy titles. Though PSone support won't be available on Vita out of the box, it's definitely on its way. If we had to guess, we'd say PlayStation 2 titles won't be far off, either - the system could handle them with ease.

Quantity is great, but quality is better, and the vastly superior power of the Vita over the PSP and even the 3DS will ensure the system is at the forefront of mobile gaming technology. Its only rival in the immediate future is, perhaps, the long-awaited iPad 3.

With more mechanical grunt to call upon, games on the Vita will be bigger, better, and more diverse, completely outstripping the PSP's software library.



Integration with PlayStation 3

The PSP had an odd relationship with its stay-at-home cousins. While it barely had any contact with the PlayStation 2 (aside from some content unlock abilities in a handful of games), its communications with PS3 have been largely relegated to Remote Play.

But, with Vita, there's already movement afoot to make it a far more integrated part of the play-at-home experience. WipEout 2048's Cross Play - where owners of the title can take on WipEout HD players - is an early example of this, but there's more to come.

Again, Kojima seems a big proponent of this cross-platform integration via his Transfarring idea, where you can move from one version of the game to another with little to no impact on play. Essentially, you can take the same experience wherever you go, continuing a session anywhere in the world or just in the comfort of your living room.

There are more innovative cross-platform possibilities on the horizon, too: with the Wii U setup serving as inspiration, the Vita could become a wireless controller for use in PS3 games.

If Sony can discover more fresh and interesting ways in which the two devices can be integrated, and it can create a unified ecosystem for players, the future looks extremely bright for the Vita and for the PlayStation platform as a whole.
 

Reviewer photo
Peter Willington 2 February 2012
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