Review: Sony PlayStation Vita Slim (PCH-2000, Borderlands 2 Bundle)

Manufacturer: Sony | Year: 2014 | List Price: $199.99 | Buy from Amazon

PS Vita SlimI am a Nintendo fanboy through and through. I have never owned a video game console made by any other company. A couple of days ago, however, that changed as I bought the PlayStation Vita, Sony’s current-generation handheld and the successor to the PlayStation Portable. I decided to make the purchase primarily to play PlayStation 1 classics and also for some PS Vita exclusives such as Persona 4 Golden and Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Seeing that it only cost $200 bundled with Borderlands 2 and including an 8GB memory card, I jumped at the chance. And it’s actually pretty nice! (Note: I’ve only had my console for 3 days, and so far I’ve only played Borderlands 2 and Persona 3 Portable on it. I do feel I have had enough time with it to write a good review, though.)

The PS Vita was released in North America in early 2012 as the successor to the PlayStation Portable to low sales despite positive reviews. It is the more powerful of the two handheld game consoles of the current generation, but critics cited its shallow game library and high cost as reasons for its flop. Earlier this year, North Americans finally got to buy the PCH-2000 model as a bundle with a port of Borderlands 2. The new system advertises increased battery life, decreased weight and thickness, and 1GB of internal memory, though it no longer boasts the OLED display of the original, opting instead for a more mainstream LCD screen. (Note: Though this is a review of the Borderlands 2 Bundle, I’ll likely do a separate Borderlands 2 review at a later date.)

Design: There is no doubt that the PS Vita looks great, with a sleek, modern design scheme. The buttons and D-pad are all very responsive and quite clicky, which I personally like. The analog sticks act like minature versions of those on the PlayStation 3, and are extremely sensitive but low and can be uncomfortable to use in extended play sessions. The touchscreen is capacitive and supports multi-touch, and I found it generally nice to use, though as a Nintendo fan, I sometimes wish I could use a stylus for certain tasks. The L and R buttons are not clicky but still nice to use. They are unique in that they sort of hinge in the middle and can be depressed to rotate either up or down. I only wish Sony would’ve taken this into account and made two separate inputs depending on which way you pushed the button. Just a minor thing though, as two shoulder buttons are enough for most games. A bigger complaint is the rear touchpad which takes up much of the back of the system. It’s a cool idea, but I’ve found it quite annoying as I often touch it inadvertently and cause my character to do strange things. Otherwise, the system is quite comfortable to use, seems quite durable, and has a lot of graphics and processing capabilities. (Great)

Library: The PS Vita library has been criticised for being rather shallow and not possessing many games other than indie games and obscure Japanese titles. However, more and more games are still being added to the list, and although I haven’t played them personally, I’ve heard great things about Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Persona 4 Golden, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, and LittleBigPlanet PS Vita. Something I really like about the current-generation’s handheld situation is that there’s very little crossover between the 3DS’ and the Vita’s game libraries, meaning that there’s an incentive to buy the other if you already have one of them. The Vita’s online store has many great indie games, like Spelunky and Thomas Was Alone. Finally, I have to mention the Vita’s ability to play many PSone classics as well as PSP games. This really opens up your options, as among all these platforms, you can get all the first 10 Final Fantasy games, all 4 Persona games, and other classics such as Silent Hill, Vagrant Story, and Metal Gear Solid. (Great)

Value: This is where the PS Vita lags behind its competition from Nintendo. At $200 bundled with a game, the PS Vita costs the same as a 3DS XL, a 3DS with two games, or a 2DS with two games. Not bad, right, considering Borderlands 2 as well as an 8GB memory card are packed in? Well, not really. Borderlands 2 will take up about 5.5GB of memory, leaving you with just over 2GB left. This will leave you with only enough space left for perhaps one more PS Vita game. I couldn’t even buy both of the two classic games I’d originally really wanted to download: Final Fantasy VII and Persona 3 Portable (I chose Persona 3 Portable). And because even physical games require the memory card to save and for patches, you have to leave enough buffer room. Sony do this to encourage you to buy their proprietary memory cards which are grossly overpriced. The retail price of 16GB and 32GB cards are $40 and $80 respectively, easily twice as much as comparable SD cards. It is for this reason, and for this reason only, that the PlayStation Vita cannot compete with the 3DS in the value department, since the hardware is no longer too expensive and games are reasonably priced. (Retail games are about $35-$40 new, $20-$30 used, PSP classics are $20, and PSone classics are usually about $6-$10.) One can only hope that prices on Sony memory cards will drop sufficiently in the near future – I really want Final Fantasy VII! (OK)

Should you buy it? Yes, if … you already have a few games in mind that are exclusive to the system. There are quite a few, but they’re not for everyone. Also, the $200 price tag is rather misleading, since you’ll want to add either $40 or $80 for a 16GB or 32GB memory card. Otherwise, the PS Vita is a great handheld with great games marketed to older teen and adult gamers.

List Price: $199.99 | Buy from Amazon

Do you have a PS Vita or are you looking to get one? Do you agree with my points above? Tell us in the comments! Also, what are you favourite PS Vita games?

Check out our other video game reviews here, and see the always-up-to-date list of my favourite video games here! There are no PS Vita games on there yet, since I’ve only gotten started with Borderlands 2 and Persona 3 Portable, but watch out for their additions and reviews soon!

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