PlayStation Vita Buyers Guide

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While the majority of TECHGEEK’s writers (not myself) have been negative towards the PlayStation Vita, that doesn’t mean that it is a bad gadget. In fact, if you want a dedicated portable console, the PlayStation Vita could arguably be the best choice and it has been well received.

So if you’ve decided to invest in a Vita, here is a collection of tips for buying games, accessories and the console itself.

I will be updating this post as we review some of the launch or launch window games, so stay tuned for more.

Buyers Guide

3G or Wi-Fi?

There are two SKU’s of the PlayStation Vita currently available: a PlayStation Vita with 3G, Wi-Fi and a GPS for $418 and one with just Wi-Fi for $348.

Right now, the 3G PlayStation Vita is fairly pointless. While buying one will ensure you don’t miss out on any potential upcoming features, at the moment you can only use location services and some non-live multiplayer games, such as uploading lap times and competing not simultaneously. There is an included application called Near, which lets you find things in real life, such as DLC at a gaming shop, as well as seeing what people around you are playing, but it’s not really that useful. You can’t download games and you can’t play multiplayer games simultaneously over 3G. Sony may one day do something, but you’re probably safe with a Wi-Fi model.

3G is provided, in Australia, through Vodafone and is priced exactly like Vodafone’s Mobile Broadband. It’s expensive, and as said above, fairly pointless. Still, if you want to be future proofed, the extra $70 might give you peace of mind. Otherwise, I’d go with the Wi-Fi model.

Accessories

Memory Card (required)

If you want to play the Vita, then, unfortunately, you’ll need one of Sony’s new, expensive and proprietary memory cards. A memory card isn’t included with the system, and it has basically no internal storage, so you’ll need a card from day one.

There are two things to keep in mind when buying your Vita a memory card. Are you looking to buy all of your games digitally and store them on the Vita’s memory card or do you just want to walk into a real shop and buy the physical game cards.

If you want to move digital, and don’t want to carry around any game cards, then you should buy a big card. Digital games are cheaper than physical games, so the investment could be worth it eventually. It’s expensive, but Vita games take up lots of space, so without one you’ll be spending a lot of time making games fit on your small card instead of having peace of mind. You can put games that you no longer want to play onto your PlayStation 3, like you would sync apps to your computer from an iPhone, and when you want it back just sync it back, but you should still get a card big enough to hold a couple of games. The biggest card, the 16GB, in Australia costs $68. The next card down is 8GB for $48. I’d seriously recommend you buy a 16GB if you want to go digital, or even buy a 32GB one online for around $100 from the US (excl. postage). If you really can’t spend that much, a 8GB should be good if you own a PS3.

If you just want to buy your games from the store, then a 4GB or 8GB card would be fine. You still need a card for retail games, and a big card will let you buy DLC and PSN-only games like Super Stardust Delta.

Really, I’d recommend going digital. The games are cheaper and it’s more convenient to have every game at your fingertips, no matter where you are. If you don’t have a good connection, and aren’t going to get one for a while, then buying retail would be your best bet as Vita games can range from 1GB to 4GB or more.

Starter Kit

Sony is selling a PS Vita Starter Kit alongside the Vita, and this costs $34.95. It includes a case, pouch, screen protector, wrist strap and game holder. Really, the two things that are useful are the case or screen protector (if you’re a bit OCD about your gadgets, like I am). Really, this kit is a bit overpriced for what you get, so I’d recommend buying what you need seperately. You do need something to protect the Vita if you’re taking it somewhere, so if you need a case, just buy a case.

Top launch games

The PlayStation Vita has launched with a truckload of games, but you probably don’t have $1000 to invest in every launch game, so here are my top games. If you’re still not sure about a game, plenty of the launch titles have free demos on the PlayStation Store.

Rayman: Origins


This is surely my favourite PS Vita launch title, mainly because of how incredible it looks on the Vita’s gorgeous 5″ OLED display. Rayman: Origins is a platformer with beautiful hand-drawn graphics, and it just looks phenomenal and plays like a dream on the Vita. It’s clean and refined gameplay, and while it isn’t doing much different from classic platformers, it is still very fun nonetheless. If you haven’t played the game on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, then Rayman: Origins is a must on the Vita.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss


If you want to pump-the-guns of your PS Vita, then Uncharted is one of the games to pick up. While this game isn’t developed by Naughty Dog (it’s noticeable), Sony Bend has still created a game that is comparable to the full console versions. It’s not as good, but it gets close at times. The occasional touch controls are annoying and gimmicky, but these kinds of things should be toned down in future games, and it’s obviously not as beautiful and sometimes not as fun as the full games, but it’s still very impressive for a portable console. It’s great, has good voice-acting, but storytelling isn’t as strong in this game and the gameplay can get repetitive.

If you love Uncharted, then give it a rental or try the demo. If you don’t like Uncharted, give this one a miss.

Super Stardust Delta (PSN only)


This twin-stick shooter is very similar to the console-original, Super Stardust HD, on the PS3, and that makes it a very awesome launch game for the Vita. It’s not for everyone, but if you enjoy the demo, then you’ll love the full game. It’s only available from the PlayStation Store and, for the asking price of $13, it’s so worth it.

FIFA Football


FIFA Football on the PlayStation Vita is another one of my favourite Vita games, but it’s not perfect. Similar to FIFA 2012, the portable game is very fun on the physical buttons, making it much better, for me, than the iPhone game FIFA 2012 with its virtual controls. It’s more beautiful too, but the framerate can drop dramatically during some replays and other camera shots. During the game, it’s fairly smooth, but in other spots it can become quite unstable. And while playing online, the framerate can make the game unplayable.

While I haven’t played too much of FIFA 2012, the home-console FIFA game, Tom Bramwell from EuroGamer says that FIFA Football for Vita feels like it’s more a port of FIFA 2011, not FIFA 2012. But, seeing as I haven’t played the console games for long, I still had lots of fun with the game. And, while framerate is choppy at times, the singleplayer experience is fairly smooth. You should, as I’ve said with other games, try the demo before buying the full game, but I’d still say that this is a great Vita game, just not the best EA could do. Launch games are infamously rushed, and FIFA Football is no exception. Hopefully, with more time, the next FIFA Vita game can be better.

WipeOut 2048


It wouldn’t be a Sony launch without a WipeOut game, would it? I’m not too much of a fan of WipeOut, but this game feels fast and is up there with the best looking Vita games. It doesn’t run at 60FPS, like the PS3 game, but it still plays smoothly at 30FPS. And there are some gimmicks, but overall, WipeOut fans will love this game and people not familiar with the franchise won’t be disappointed. And it’s a full game too, so it’s worth the price for the amount of content that you get.

Remember that this post might be updated with links to full reviews (if we decide to do some) and also more information, as it becomes available.