When PS Vita was released 2 years back in 2012 I was excited. I always wanted a portable gaming console that I can take with me on flights (I am a frequent flyer due to the nature of my job) and also I can use it in home to play PS3 (now PS4 games) when the living room TV is occupied to watch cable / Netflix etc.
Tablets and smartphones did not serve that purpose fully for several reasons:-
- No remote play until now (Sony Z3 phones and tablets now support remote play)
- These devices do not have dedicated buttons like Vita or 3DS or 2DS.
- Not for serious gaming like Borderlands, Uncharted.
- Did not want to be in a situation where my phone had (near) zero battery when I land.
However after 2 years it is disheartening to accept that Vita could not live up to my expectations. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons.
1. Inconsistent Remote Play
PS Vita was released in 2012 and at that time there was no PS4, only PS3. Sony did market the device stating remote play will be launching soon to PS3 for some games. And it did but to my disappointment, it was launched for a very handful of games and those I did not even play. However I was survived by some great games for Vita like Uncharted (though it was short), Rayman, Little Big Planet, Guacamelee (Best game till date), Persona 4 Golden among others. So I decided I will keep it and will wait for PS4 release to see if remote play is supported.
This time Sony did listen and remote play was supported for all games out of the box. Connecting Vita to PS4 does not take much time and it is like looking at your 5 inch TV hooked up to PS4. I was all happy and smiling that finally I can play games while I am in toilet or cooking etc. The joy did not last longer. I have 50mbps internet speed over wi-fi (yes over wi-fi as per speedtest.net) and that is well above what Sony needs for remote play but still almost all games had some issues over time. I tried it with Watch Dogs, Infamous Second Son, even recent titles like Shadow of Mordor and COD: Advanced Warfare failed to allow remote play flawlessly. Screens break in the middle of fight or there will be drop connections after every 15-20 minutes. It just killed my interest in playing AAA highly rated titles like those listed above.
2. Complicated Button Layout
PS Vita was the first handheld to have buttons like left and right sticks and triggers. It also was the first to have rear touchpad. All these inclusions ensured user to have console like experience while playing shooting / racing games like Uncharted, COD, Need for Speed etc.
It did serve the purpose for most games especially for the games that were made for Vita but was not a comparable experience when using it over remote play. Dualshock buttons (PS4 controller) like R3, L3 were either moved to front touch screen or back touchpad. Similar was the case for L1 and R1 or L2 and R2 depending on the game. Using those while playing was like doing finger acrobatics that made the whole process painful after a short game session of only 30 minutes. To explain more, in Shadow of Mordor you need to use couple of buttons to shoot an arrow; to do that on Vita you need to touch the rear pad and then click the R button as well to select the fire arrow. In most FPS games, either R1 or R2 is used to throw grenades; now Vita has only one R trigger that means you need to use either front or rear touchscreens to throw grenades. All this takes quite a time and more time means frequent deaths in FPS games. Another problem is that Vita is not most ergonomic design for long sessions especially because the left and right sticks are aligned in a straight like just like PS3/PS4 controllers and not diagonally (as in case of Xbox controllers). This does not hurt in PS3/PS4 as they have got better grips but on Vita it does not make much sense since there are virtually no grips on the back due to rear touchpad. (There are some grips available on amazon/ebay that can take some of that pain out but still not as good experience as with dualshock or xbox controllers.)
Summary – unplayable for most AAA games.
3. Small Screen
If I ignore the 2nd point and somehow make the games playable using whatever buttons / touchpads are available on Vita, there was still a problem for me when it came to playing those AAA titles – Small Screen. Okay I agree I wanted something portable and 5” should be good to suffice that need. But I found it in a expensive way that it was not. Enemies looked tiny; frame rate was issue in high speed racing; restricted viewing angles – major reasons that kept me playing big games on Vita.
4. Lack of Games
I was really hoping Vita to get more games like Uncharted, Borderlands, Need for Speed. But Vita never got beyond a handful of such titles; most games released this year are arcade like that I can even play on my smartphone and do not necessarily need dedicated buttons like L3, R3, L1, R1.
In most of my trips in 2012-13 I took Vita with me on flights but in last one year mainly due to lack of games I decided to carry my tablet to watch movies, read books and play games. At home as well due to remote play and button issues I did not use it to play PS4 games. Eventually the day came when I decided to part ways and sold it on craigslist.
I really hope things improve with Z3 tablet as it has got 8” screen and I can connect PS4 controller to it. This will resolve at least 2 issues listed above – dedicated buttons and small screen. But I will not buy it unless there is a price drop, current price of $499 is on higher end and not worth in my opinion or for my wallet.