Sony’s new PS Vita a big improvement

So there’s a new video game system on the market. Can you spare $250 to $300 for Sony’s PS Vita — the best hand-held gaming device yet invented?

It’s a big step up from Sony’s old PSP. Vita features high-definition mega games that rock. And Sony promises to eventually offer many apps and movies for sale.

It’s twice the size of my BlackBerry and much heavier. It doesn’t fit in my pants pocket. I took it to restaurants, and I had to carry it, like a handbag.

Thus it will be most useful to me at home and on trains, planes and automobiles.

It has a magnificent, 5-inch, OLED, high-definition touch screen for HD games and movies (but no 3-D).

The back of the Vita is also a touch screen. You sometimes fiddle with that backside screen — and a built-in gyroscope — to solve puzzles and make motions in games. This is odd but I got the hang of it quickly.

If you buy the $250 Vita, you game online via Wi-Fi. If you get the $300 Vita, you get AT&T 3G. The Web browser and connections are fast. But YouTube and Flash sites weren’t working while I was writing this review.

The rechargeable battery lasts about five hours. Two cameras and video recording aren’t as good as my old BlackBerry.

Serious gamers will like all the buttons — two joysticks, two shoulder buttons, a D-pad and an action-button pad.

Here’s the best news: Vita already has handfuls of great games for sale. Nintendo’s 3DS came out a year ago and still offers only a few must-have titles.

I haven’t played through all of my 15 games at this point. But I can review two excellent titles.

“Uncharted: Golden Abyss” looks and feels like “Uncharted” games do on PS 3.

It’s a sprawling, cinematic adventure starring Nathan Drake, a globe-trotting archaeologist, a la Indiana Jones and Lara Croft.

The puzzles are more plot-dependent in “Golden Abyss” than in previous “Uncharteds.” The action is excellent. The shooting is pretty good. The dialogue is funny and intriguing.

But I am surprised to say I’m more addicted to “Hot Shots Golf World Invitational,” the golf sequel starring cute/hot little anime women.

I’ve only mildly enjoyed previous “Hot Shots” games. But this one is a perfect outing on par with the best “Tiger Woods” titles. There are incredible courses; no lag times between swings; upgrades to improve your golfing; and fantastic drives, approaches and putts.

I’m still working on reviews for “Wipeout 2048” (the cool hover-craft racer); “FIFA Soccer” (it feels like the PS 3 version but with tiny men); and “Lumines Electronic Symphony” (the futuristic “Tetris”-type series).

Other launch sequels bear familiar names, such as “Rayman Origins,” “Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom” and “Ninja Gaiden Sigma PLUS.”

Bottom line: If you have the cash and you prefer massive hand-held games rather than dinky little phone games, then consider Vita, even though the name sounds like pasta.

(PlayStation Vita by Sony retails for $250-$300 — Plays very fun. Looks fantastic. Easy to challenging games. Rated “E” to “M” games. Four out of four stars.)

(“Hot Shots Golf World Invitational” by Sony retails for $40 for PS Vita — Plays addicting. Looks great. Challenging. Rated “E” for mild suggestive themes. Four stars.)

(“Uncharted: Golden Abyss” by Sony for PS Vita — Plays fun. Looks great. Moderately challenging. Rated “T” for blood, drug reference, language, mild suggestive themes and violence. Four stars.)

Contact Doug Elfman at
delfman@reviewjournal.com.
He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

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