PlayStation Universe

Holiday Guide: Everything you need to know about the PS Vita

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on 14 December 2012

When I first opened the box of my brand new PlayStation Vita, I knew I was in possession of an impressive piece of kit. It felt substantial to hold and had a sleek and sexy design in almost every respect. The beautiful 5 inch OLED screen is perhaps its most defining feature. The technology facilitates some of the brightest, crispest most colorful visuals seen on a dedicated gaming handheld device. The fantastic display coupled with the much celebrated dual analog sticks have made many owners claim it's like having a console experience in your hands, and I'm inclined to agree.

Out for almost a year, Vita has slowly amassed a fine library of games across all genres and mediums. Whether you like having a physical copy or enjoy the convenience of no cartridge swapping with digital downloads, you have access to some of today's best IPs, including Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty, Need for Speed, LittleBigPlanet, Persona plus much much more. For more info on the must have Vita titles this holiday season, mosey on over to our Vita games holiday guide.

Recently Sony opened its PS+ subscription service to Vita. This means that the handheld now gets its own Instant Games Collection offering. The first wave includes Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Gravity Rush amongst other titles, including Mortal Kombat which is coming this month. Aside from getting access to full games at no additional charge, PS+ offers its own discounts to select Vita titles and DLC packs.

The value proposition doesn't end there. Sony has introduced an initiative called Cross Buy for certain 1st party games. With Cross Buy, when you buy the PS3 game, you get to download the Vita version for free. The first title to do this is the IP brawler PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royal. Not only does this let you take the game with you on the go, but with Cross Play, people on Vita can face-off against PS3 players so you can always be in the thick of the action with your favorite PlayStation icon. Other games adopting the Cross Buy feature include Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time and Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force. The latter has already had its console release but the Vita version is due out early next year.

Also coming soon to LittleBigPlanet 2 is Cross Controller (yes, another Cross-initiative!), this allows you to use the Vita as a controller for LBP2 on the PS3, with the added functionality of the front and rear touch pads and the second screen.

When you're not gaming you can enjoy the various applications the Vita has access to. Facebook, Twitter, 4square and Flickr join Skype, Google Maps and YouTube in the app department. The Vita is also able to access and play any music or videos you have on your home computer using a little trick with the Remote Play function on Vita and the PS3 Media Center PC program. Providing your PC is on, you can remotely activate and browse it via your PS3 on the Vita's screen. Navigating to the Video section of XMB, the media player will let you browse all shared content. Today's versions do the decoding PC side meaning you are able to stream file types not supported by the Vita itself -- effectively turning your PC into a cloud for the Vita. The streamed video looks great on the Vita's screen.

If you're buying a Vita, chances are there may be an accessory or two you may want. From screen protectors to protective pouches, hand grips to battery packs, there are more than enough extras to keep your Vita pimped (and your wallet light). Be sure to have a look at our Vita accessory holiday guide.

2013 holds a handful of possible gems for the Vita. At E3 2012, Sony showcased Killzone: Mercenaries, which looks promising. Media Molecule, the studio behind platforming legend LittleBigPlanet, also revealed Tearaway, a beautiful looking game that looks to make interesting use of all of the Vita's tech, including motion sensing, touch screens, front and rear cameras and the mic. Soul Sacrifice is perhaps the most interesting upcoming title. Players sacrifice parts of their body in order to unleash a devastating and unusual attacks.

If you are a fan of DUST 514, the free-to-play MMO FPS game by Icelandic developer CCP, and you have a Vita, then you may be glad to learn that Neocom is coming to the handheld. Neocom is the heart of the DUST experience when not on the battlefield. It gives you access to everything that the console iterations does including your skills, your loadouts, the marketplace, corporations and more. This means you can do all of your preparation on Vita so when you get home you are ready to jump right into the action.

With attractive bundles on offer like the Assassin's Creed: Liberation with the beautiful white Vita, now is a pretty good time to jump on board the Vita experience.