Highbrow High Score

The Art of Gaming Intellectually

Archive for December 2011

Why Sony will cripple the PSVita (and why I hope I’m wrong)

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Although the Vita is missing the holiday gifting madness, we’re seeing more and more ads and videos about Sony’s next generation of handhelds. The Vita is loaded with features as well as gorgeous aesthetics – taking pages from smartphone design (sleek and interactive touch surfaces) and functionality (use of apps and connectivity) as well as finally integrating the second control stick to the handheld market. The announced line-up looks stellar with Uncharted, LittleBigPlanet and – my personal most anticipated game – Touch My Katamari. With state-of-the-art touch controls, the Vita is going out on a limb to deliver more options for gameplay and more features for developers to experiment with. And it looks just plain sexy.

Handheld high candy with real capabilities

I want my fingerprints all over that!

But, the cynic in me is reminded of another Sony handheld that was supposed to change the nature of on-the-go gaming – and the sad truth that followed. The original PSP boasted a bigger screen, beefier graphics, and a more “adult” experience than the Nintendo DS could offer. The system had potential to usurp Nintendo’s handheld throne with the grown-up gamer… but it fell short of just about every expectation or promise Sony made. I’ll note that although the system sold well, as someone who has owned and played the original, actually using it is frustrating on almost every level.

Here’s a brief list of why the Vita will probably* be every bit as unplayable as the PSP:

1. Proprietary media

With the PSP, Sony introduced both the UMD and their Memory Stick Pro. Now it seems the Vita will fall prey to the same overpriced proprietary forms of memory and media.

2. Sub-par online experience

But... but!

The free online gameplay network that Sony introduced is nowhere near as smooth an experience as Xbox Live and seems to be constantly updated to prevent errors like the hacking snafu earlier this year - which leads to...

3. Constant firmware updates

No one likes waiting on updates, but Sony must think we do because these are more frequent than any other comparable console or handheld.

4. Price

An acronym that could apply to a lot of the Playstation family

Even with a Wi-Fi only model of the Vita, buyers will be spending upwards of $250 on the unit itself. Add a few $50 to $70 dollar games and a memory card and the deal seems a little steep.

The PS3 clearly illustrates that Sony is dedicated to giving gamers a modern video game experience and the Vita seems to be a continuation of that; based on hardware alone, these consoles are superior to other consoles on the market. On the other hand, there is a reason the sales of the PS3 and the PSP lagged behind those consoles – trailing the Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS by one-third and half their stateside sales figures respectively. It’s a shame because I think the Vita will be a great handheld as far as the quality of game and functionality it will provide, but Sony’s history with “flash in the pan” gaming may kill the handheld shortly after it’s launch.

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Written by highbrowhighscore

December 16, 2011 at 3:00 am

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Rainy Day Games

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Although the holiday season is (frighteningly) close, most of the big blockbuster games came out earlier in the year. That being said, while I got the opportunity to buy and play a lot of great games this year, limited time and money meant there was a lot I had to pass on.  This year has added a few games to my “to play” list and hopefully 2012 will afford me more opportunities to enjoy them.

These games will have to wait until I get done with my Dragonborn duties...

  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Although I could not tell you exactly what this game is about, the “cool” factor was almost enough to make me buy it on release – but not quite.
  • L.A. Noire – Now that I don’t have to drop upwards of $50 on a game I’ll only play once, I may consider grabbing this old-school detective story.
  • Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – With this one still being pretty new, I don’t see myself going for it yet. Instead, I’ll watch the Indiana Jones films a few times – just the first three, don’t worry!

Indy would win this fight, but Captain Reynolds would kick both of their asses.

  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – Unfortunately, I will have to buy the console again, but I would feel cheated if I didn’t get to play a brand new Zelda adventure.
  • Minecraft – This one is sitting on my desktop, just waiting to be played, but I haven’t had the attention span or direction to really get into it yet.

    It looks so sad and alone

So, there are a few games that didn’t quite make it for me this year – what’s on your rainy day list?

Written by highbrowhighscore

December 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm