Saturday, January 05, 2013

My New Toy: A PlayStation Vita

In the run-up to our 3 week Australian trip to visit Tammy, I've been trying to think of ways to make the 25+ hours of plane-and-airport time - each way! - at least somewhat bearable.  I used to love flying, but even before 9/11 it had started to lose its appeal.  The tight confines of modern planes don't agree with my 6 foot, 2 inch frame, I really can't handle airline food and the whole experience is just always so damned boring!

One of my ideas was to buy a handheld gaming system, since that sort of activity is one of the few where I can completely lose track of time.  I wasn't sure which system to get, but in the end my loyalty to all things PlayStation won the day: I bought a Vita!  I got the Call of Duty: Declassified bundle, providing me with one game that I expected to enjoy.  At the same time, I bought Resistance: Burning Skies, one of only two Resistance games I've not already played (Resistance: Retribution, for the PS Portable, is the other).  I received that package of Vita + games yesterday, less than 24 hours after I'd ordered it from Amazon, and I've already tried both games out to make sure they're going to hold my interest (seems like they will!).  However, I'm still wanting to get another game or two, as there's going to be a lot of time to kill.  On a friend's recommendation, I've ordered Unit 13, which looks like another good shooter.  I'd certainly be happy to hear thoughts on other games for the Vita, if anyone has them.

The hour or two that I spent setting up and trying out the Vita yesterday fit with my expectations of the system, based on the reviews I'd read: it's sleek and impressive in many ways, and frustrating in others.  I like the look and feel of it, and some of the ways R:BS, in particular, uses the touchscreen capabilities of the device are mighty impressive.  On the other hand, there are some strange design choices that I just don't understand.  As a simple example: there's a browser built in, which claims to support the concept of bookmarking sites you like.  So far, so good.  However, it seems to keep a history cache of every URL you go to, as well, and intermingle it with the bookmarks you've specifically set.  Rather than giving you an easy way to clear the history cache, though, the only option you appear to have is to clear history and bookmarks!  I almost couldn't believe it, until I tried it: I selected "Clear History" and sure enough, there went all of the bookmarks I'd carefully set.  Damn, that's dumb.  Another example involved the e-mail app on it, which defaults the protocol choice to IMAP (rather than POP, or POP3), and only allows you to change that selection when you first add the account.  You can change just about every other attribute of your e-mail account afterwards, including the server names and passwords, but you can't edit the protocol.  I hadn't noticed it was set to IMAP at first, until my attempt to use that account failed.  Then I actually had to delete what I'd set up and go through all that typing on the virtual keyboard all over again, which was really frustrating.

Having said that, though, I woke up this morning with a strong urge to power up my Vita and play some games.  I had to remind myself that those games are for the trip!  And I think that's a good sign, as a few truly immersive shooters could most certainly make our travel doldrums fly by.

No comments: