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Sony PlayStation Vita hands on review

We get down and dirty with Sony's pocketable quad-core gaming powerhouse

Sony PlayStation Vita – build quality & controls

Despite being fairly large, the Vita feels light enough for long gaming sessions without causing wrist-ache. Pushed around by our powerfull muscular thumbs, the Vita’s analog sticks felt a little bit flimsy – if they were stiffer, moving and aiming would be smoother. We also wonder how durable the sticks will be when stuffed into a rucksack, although their low profile will probably help.

The touchscreen is useful, allowing you to quickly select items from your character’s inventory and adding extra swipe commands for combat. If you don’t want to smudge the crisp 5in display, the back is also a stroke-sensitive panel.

Sony PlayStation Vita – graphics

The Vita isn’t quite a PS3 in your pocket, but it’s still the most graphically capable machine you can buy for TV-worthy gaming on the go. The qHD display is bright, bold and smooth, and the Vita’s extra power really shows when playing games like Uncharted: the Golden Abyss, which offers complex environments and proper first-person shooting elements – not bad for something you can fire up on a bus.

Top Darts on the other hand is a bit rubbish, but other bundled games like Reality Fighters is particularly impressive. It uses the Vita’s front-facing camera to create a personalised avatar, then uses the rear snapper to augment it on the ground in front of you, where it can fight AI opponents or another gamers’ avatars generated using the Near service.

Sony PlayStation Vita – the games

With the extra power offered by the processor and graphics card (both quad-core beasts), a 5in screen and proper controls, the Vita is geared for bigger, more serious adventures than disposable commuter-friendly app store games. Assassin’s Creed and Bioshock are among the big names heading for the Vita, and there’s no reason these shouldn’t be proper portable versions of blockbuster games rather than lame nods to the franchises.

Sony PlayStation Vita – network smarts

Near locates and talks to nearby Vitas and the obligatory social networking bumpf is built in, including Skype. Is this important to the hardcore gamers the Vita is designed to appeal to? Possibly not, but the all-important casual gamer and social media-types will find it handy not having to drag their smartphone out of a pocket to tweet about their latest achieveme- sorry, trophies. Two models – a wi-fi only version or one with 3G courtesy of Vodafone, will be available.

Sony PlayStation Vita – hands on verdict

The Vita is undeniably the most powerful portable games console in existence, but will all that grunt matter to the Angry Birds generation of gamers? Sony is hoping that by including a touchscreen, camera, social networking and hardcore games, the Vita will appeal to everyone, and the evidence of this hands on shows they’re on to something. We’ll be giving the PlayStation Vita the full review treatment closer to the UK launch on 22nd February, so stay tuned.

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