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Presenting Vita’s home screen, It’s all floaty circular icons, with a nice 3D wave animationin the background, similar to the PS3. On the side of the screen you can see three dots,representing three pages of icons (if you’ve spent any time with an iOS device, you knowthe drill). Up top there’s a 3G signal bar, a clock and a battery monitor. The icon in themiddle reminds you that you’re on the home screen – when you have more applicationsopen, these will also display next to the home icon, and a quick swipe left and right flicksbetween open apps. The top-right corner plays host to a notification counter, includingreceived messages, party invitations or friend requests.
Clicking any icon on the home screen will take you into the LiveArea for that game or app –here we’re looking at the WipEout 2048 LiveArea, there’s also of a screen of Uncharted:Golden Abyss’ and the PlayStation Store’s in the gallery. As you can see, this is more thanjust a ‘are you sure you want to launch that game?’ dialog, instead presenting quickshortcuts to the leaderboards, your player profile, something called the “AG Museum”(presumably a supporting app), and a link to the PlayStation Store to grab DLC (the FuryDLC in the picture is actually for WipEout HD on PS3, and so is likely a placeholder).Uncharted’s LiveArea shows various stats both from your own game progress, and theonline community, with a link to the Black Market trading part of that game. ThePlayStation Store’s LiveArea just shows featured content at this time.
On LiveArea, there are also three quick links at the top of the panel. The first is to thegame’s digital manual – remember, all Vita games will be available on the Store, with onlysome of those at retail in card form – the second is an internet search for the game, andthe third icon isn’t quite clear. It could either manually refresh the LiveArea, or enable youto update the game/app without having to actually launch the game – if you can queuethese, that’d be a very useful feature.
Speaking of the PlayStation Store, here it is a tab toswitch between the game and video stores alongthe top – looks like the comic store won’t bereturning for Vita’s launch – and a search function.Further down, it looks like Sony has taken morethan a little inspiration from Apple’s iOS stores:there are three featured ads, and then a view thatcan flick between the latest releases, the bestsellers, and ‘All Games’.The product pages themselves are much the same,with artwork and product details. The rating systemfrom the existing Store has also made it over.Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that Sony are makingany kind of preview option compulsory on Vitagames, whether it be a trailer or even a set ofscreenshots like you get on most mobile platforms,at least it’s not in this build of the software. It’sworth mentioning the little button with three dotsin the bottom-right of the screen; that’s the optionsbutton, and shows up throughout the Vita UI.
Your existing PlayStation Network Group chats can be either text- oraccount will transfer straight over to voice-based, and messages can alsoyour Vita. Straight from the profile contain attachments – in thispage, you can see what your friend is conversation, the first message is anplaying and join them, or view their invite to a LBP level, with the secondrecent activity, whether that’s trophy reply containing a screenshot. As youunlocks or in-game progress. You can can see in the top-right, you canalso go right into a chat. manually refresh conversations should you go out of WiFi or 3G range.
With the PSN, must come trophies. Here you can see the trophy list, with a tab on the top-left corner to view all trophies or only those unlocked on Vita. Even if you choose to viewall trophies, you can see that games are labelled with which platform they are for – it’s notyet clear how this will work for games where progress can be transferred from PS3 to Vitaand vice versa, like Ruin. What’s also not yet clear is if Vita games will have platinumtrophies; it seems likely that it would work the same way as on PS3, with only the largertitles having the holy grail trophy.
Sony has show off Vita’s media capabilities, you can view photos taken with the cameraapplication (using either the front or back cameras), as well as JPEGs, GIFs, BMPs, PNGs,and TIFF images. The music app is capable of playing MP3’s, unprotected ACC files andWAVs, with MPEG-4 (high, main, baseline and simple profile) videos also compatible.Interestingly, there’s no sign of the WMA and WMV support in the PS3 and PSP – whetherthat’s because it has yet to be implemented, won’t be present, or will be added later in afirmware update is unknown. We also don’t yet know how to get media actually onto Vita,presumably through Media Go or some future replacement application, although there is a‘Content Manager’ app on Vita itself for on-device management.
Party is effectively an upgraded group chat Near is the halfway point between Vita’s GPSapplication. You can set up any number of support and games, allowing you to unlock‘rooms’ and flick between them, in which content for games by navigating the realyou can text and voice chat, as well as view world environment. Near also shows youwho’s playing what, or jump into multiplayer where your friends are, as well as whatgames together. The best bit? Party runs in other Vita users in the vicinity are playing,the background at the same time as games, should you fancy a tube carriage WipEoutso we finally have real in-game voice chat. faceoff. Note: the GPS chip is only present inParty rooms can also be favourited, and the 3G version of Vitaappear to exist even when empty, ready tobe jumped into next time players log online.
Sony announced that Vita will also play hostto non-gaming apps, and Facebook, Twitter,Foursquare and Skype will be the first ofthese (it’s not clear whether these will beavailable at launch or just after). Theredoesn’t appear to be any Vita specificfunctionality except the touch-centric UI, butit’s good to see Sony pushing the non-gaming capabilities of the console.
There are going to be two versions of the Playstation Vitareleased. One with just Wi-Fi and a more expensive versionwith 3G ($249 for the WiFi only version and $299 for the Wi-Fi/3G version).Online retailer Amazon.com has seemingly outed the SonyPS Vita release date and price, making the portable gamesconsole available for pre-order ahead on February 22, 2012.Advantages to buying at Amazon: FREE with Super Saver Shipping Pre-order Price Guarantee