Is Sony's Console-Quality Handheld Worthwhile After All?

What You Should Really Do With Your PS Vita

Is Sony's Console-Quality Handheld Worthwhile After All?

So, due to the recent lull in big releases for Sony’s little handheld, some people would tell you to trade in your PS Vita. Allow me to offer a counter argument as to why you most definitely should keep your PS Vita. I’ve had mine for roughly two years now, and still use it regularly, so here’s how to get the most of your powerful little handheld.

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1. PlayStation Plus

While it might only seem necessary for PlayStation 4 owners, PlayStation Plus is a key thing for any modern PlayStation gamer; especially on the Vita. With a Plus subscription, you regulary get anywhere between two to four games for your Vita every month.

Considering the cheap price point of Plus alone makes getting titles for your handheld that much simpler. The fact it often gives you downloadable Vita games near or at launch, along with cross-buy Vita versions of games you also receive on PS3 and/or PS4, is a huge bonus. This is how I got CounterSpy and The Swapper on my Vita.

The titles included are also not limited to smaller games. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royal, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, WipeOut, and Gravity Rush were all made available to me thanks to Playstation Plus. I also get serious discounts with Plus and was able to get Killzone: Mercenary at the pittance of only $9, while physical copies still retail at over $20.

So get PlayStation Plus, and your concerns about not having games to play on your Vita vanish away. From fantastic indies like Hotline Miami and Don’t Starve (both of which I actually prefer on the Vita over their PC and console versions), to hardcore titles, there’s plenty to keep you going.

2. Video Streaming

Now I know what you’re about to say — “My tablet can stream video!” You are correct that the functionality is available, but I still cannot deny I’ve found my Vita does a far better job at it. Having immediate tangible controls on top of the touch interface gives me the best of both worlds, and viewing YouTube on my Vita is fantastic.

On top of this, your Vita can play console games via PS Now. So, you can rent from over a hundred games, including some really good ones like inFamous 2 and Of Orcs & Men, and have them streamed to your Vita. The library continues to grow and they’re even letting people pay a subscription fee to just stream whatever they want for a set amount of time.

Tablets have attempted this in the past with streaming services, but short of spending a costly amount of money to get a dedicated controller for your tablet, it is incredibly hard to play and control. You don’t have this problem with the Vita because it has two anlaogue sticks and nearly every button and feature the PlayStation 3 and 4 have.

Oh, and did I forget to mention you can stream your physical and digital PS4 games from your PS4 to your PS Vita? Well you can! And while I haven’t gotten to try it yet other than with a PS Classics on my PS3, I’ve heard plenty of praise for the feature.

3. The Core Library

As I mentioned, the PS Vita has a fair amount of solid games. The dual analogue sticks have allowed for genuine shooter experiences with Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Killzone: Mercenary, Unity 13, Borderlands 2, Freedom Wars, and most recently Deadman’s Cross. Role playing game fans have Persona 4: The Golden, Dragon’s Crown, Silent Hill: Book of Memories, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD, Soul Sacrifice, and more.

That’s only two genres and you have enough games to keep you busy for months, as more titles are released. None of the titles mentioned above are indie games either. On top of that, Borderlands 2 and Persona 4 aren’t the only awesome ports to go along with the regular Vita exclusives. Sly Cooper HD, Ratchet & Clank HD, and Jak & Daxter HD are all on the Vita, so you can play your PlayStation 2 favorites on the go. You can also play most PSP and PlayStation 1 games.

Yes, including Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron and it’s 16 player multiplayer!

So when it really comes down to it… the PS Vita does have a decent library at this point. In fact, by comparison to the PS4, it has a higher success rate with its exclusives and offers around 90% backwards compatability with most digital PSP games. It’s not something any of us were counting on, but it is what it is.

Even without the older games and re-releases, the core set of games for the Vita are good enough to carry it through. I know we all are having fun singing the death bell for the Vita because “it has no games”, but weren’t we doing the exact same thing for the Wii-U? And before that, the 3DS? And before that, the PS3?  Let’s try to keep a realistic perspective here.

4. Second Screen Capability

I already mentioned how I used my Vita for video streaming, but that is not the only functionality it offers. You see, for the longest time I was a skeptic of the idea of “Second Screen” gaming. Yet, I cannot imagine playing on my PlayStation 3 without it now.

Instead of a long pause and delay as I go back to the XMB, I can instantly check my trophies and send messages over PSN at the touch of my finger tips. I can Google a walkthrough if I’m having trouble in a level. I can have a Skype call with fantastic video quality, and carry them with me wherever I walk in my house. And like with the Video Streaming, I can still use actual buttons and not just depend on a touch screen if I don’t want to.

This is on top of the capability to use certain apps previously only available to tablets, such as for Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Director’s Cut and GTA V.

When it comes down to it, I am happy with the Vita. Sure, I’d love it if we got more action games and Sony was better supporting it; anybody who has the handheld wants that. But as the system is now, there are plenty of ways to have fun and enjoy yourself. I’m not sure if I can call the Vita a success, but I also wouldn’t call it a complete failure. It’s opened the door to AAA handheld gaming, and I look forward to seeing what comes next. Until then, I’ll be getting back to playing on my Vita.

Image Credits: DualShockers, AU PSN, Pocket-Lint, US Playstation, GamerInvestments, PC Mag, Forbes

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Elijah Beahm
Grumpily ranting at this computer screen since before you were playing Minecraft. For more of my work: