During tonight’s E3 press conference, Sony revealed more details of its forthcoming portable, formerly known as the Sony NGP (Next Generation Portable). Kaz Hirai brought out the latest PlayStation Portable, which is now officially named PlayStationVita or PS Vita (pronounced “vee-tah”, not “vy-tah”).
As we learned back in January, the PS Vita (NGP) will offer both front and rear touchpads, a high-res OLED Screen, SIXAXIS motion sensor technology, dual analog sticks, and both front and rear cameras – providing support for augmented reality gaming.
The Vita will come in both WiFi and 3G/WiFi models, and Sony also announced an exclusive partnership with AT&T as the 3G carrier for PS Vita (which brought along with it substantial groans from the audience). They also showed off a demo of Uncharted: Golden Abyss, running on the portable, and it not only looks damned impressive, it takes full advantage of the front and rear touch controls, along with the motion sensors and both thumbsticks.
Another nifty feature that was shown was the ability to start a game on your PS Vita, then resume it on your PS3, using cloud-based saves. Sony also announced a feature called “Cross-play” which will offer games which can be played between players on both PlayStation Vita and PS3 consoles. Also revealed was an awesome looking new PS Vita version of Little Big Planet, which takes full advantage of the handheld’s unique control capabilities, as well as a cool touch-based level editor. This could be one of the Vita’s killer apps, IMHO.
There are more than 80 titles in development, with titles mentioned during the presentation including Street Fighter X Tekken, Wipeout, and ModNation Racers, among others.
The Sony PlayStation Vita will be available in time for the 2011 holiday season, and will sell for $249 (USD) / €249 (EUR)/ ¥24,980 (JPY), with the 3G/WiFi model selling for $299 (USD) / €299 (EUR) / ¥29,980 (JPY). No word yet on an AT&T subsidy, or costs for a 3G data plan. Both models can be pre-ordered now over at Amazon.
There’s no question that the hardware in the PlayStation Vita looks impressive. The real question is whether or not handheld gaming systems can compete with smartphones and tablets now that they’re so pervasive. Personally, I bought a Nintendo 3DS, and it’s frequently gathering dust in favor of playing games on my iPad 2. That said, the PS Vita’s hardware and control capabilities are arguably more advanced than the iPad, and the inclusion of tactile controllers might be enough to convince me to buy one anyhow. Now if only Sony could keep their PlayStation Network alive and secure.