Approaching the PS Vita launch event registration desk in Johannesburg, South Africa, I put on my best confident smile and was ready to charm whoever tried to stand in the way to my hands-on PS Vita experience. You know you are on the list, after all you did confirm your attendance and got a read receipt.
Yet the trepidation is there that just maybe something has gone horribly wrong and you are not going to ride the lift to floor 22 and experience the PS Vita. Thankfully the registration official confirmed my admission and I boarded the lift to one of the most spectacular launch events I’ve had the privilege of attending.
The lift aptly had just two buttons, one for the ground floor and the other for the 22nd floor. When you are in a hurry to get your hands on a PS Vita you don’t want to be stopping at each floor! The lift doors opened and the wait was over. I was greeted by the very friendly catering staff with their assortment of virgin cocktails.
Throughout the night there was always someone within metres to bring you a drink or offer you the most delectable food items from a tray of tempting goodies.
To the left lay a stage with smoke machines, lighting, sound and a DJ who kept the party vibe grooving throughout the night with a modern blend that was perfectly suited to the crowd. It was refreshing to be entertained by a DJ who didn’t feel the need to talk the whole evening, all we heard was the rhythmic tunes at all the right times so thank you for your part in the success of the event.
The stage featured some rather radical dancers moving around in lycra bags, an amazingly talented Morgan Beatbox vocal whizz, more illuminated dancers and a PS Vita feature run down by none other than gaming personality Pippa Tshabalala. Unfortunately I got roped into the performance by Morgan to perform my interpretation of “The robot” dance moves to his wicked beatboxing track. Sadly no one came to try sign me up after my performance. Good event planning had the stage broadcast streamed to large screens throughout the venue so everyone could experience the entertainment without having to cram around the stage.
To my right a lavish bar staffed by the real deal bartenders! You know the ones who flip the bottles up, down, around their backs with a practiced dexterity to be admired. No request was too much for this team of seasoned bartenders and they certainly were put to the test to keep the crowd well refreshed.
I know, I know, you are asking why am I going on about the lift, the stage, the food and drinks when there is a PS Vita to be discussed. Right? The thing is an event is only as good as the experience which is a sum of the individual parts and whilst the PS Vita certainly was showcased, without the support acts it wouldn’t have shined so brightly.
Dotted around the venue were a number of PS Vita units all preloaded with a huge array of titles. The launch line-up for the PS Vita is astounding and there is no lack of content, regardless of what your preferred genre of game is. I got stuck into FIFA Football and tried to get my head and hands around the new touch screen controls and rear touch input mechanism. Admittedly I failed miserably and lost my Arsenal vs Man United two nil. The game oozes quality, from the crisp visuals, player motion and depth of control which just completely flummoxed me. You can play using the standard analogue sticks but I was curious about the touch input mechanisms. Despite my loss I think the rear touch for goal scoring will be a vital control mechanism for skilled players, and with a little bit more practice I’ll get into it.
Next up I spent a little time with the black and white Escape Plan. It lured me in with its “colourful” black and white shades and stylised characters. I escaped a room, moved through the next room by flicking a brick out of the way and then met my doom in the third room by plummeting through a hole in the floor. I am intrigued by the title and look forward to experimenting with it more, this time without the video crews filming my untimely deaths.
I’m not one to wax lyrical about graphics, however, the touch sensitive OLED screen on the PS Vita is a sheer thing of beauty. It shone out like a bright beacon of joy beckoning you to come and touch it. Touch it I did and it is responsive most of all. There is power under the hood of the PS Vita that I’m sure developers the world over have been rejoicing over. Many a mobile device has annoyed me with the sluggish user interfaces but with the PS Vita you get none of that. With the lightest touch it responds to your commands effortlessly. Thank you for getting this right!
I like the PS Vita. It has style, tons of raw power and plenty of neat features that you can read about in our tech review. Most importantly it has a solid launch line-up available right now. The PS Vita units are available in WiFi or 3G packages from all online and retail gaming outlets. If you are still uncertain there will be plenty of opportunities to try before you buy so watch the press for details.
You can browse through our photos from the launch event, and even watch Morgan Beatbox in action in the video, below. We’ve also included a video which gives you a feeling of the atmosphere at the launch. Don’t forget to read Lisa’s write-up of the event over here as well.
Morgan Beatbox video – prepare to be amazed!
Inside the PS Vita launch event