Saturday, October 10, 2015

Review: PlayStation Now (PS Vita)

Well this is fun, I'm playing Dead Rising on my PS Vita, and it all works! There's beaches and palm trees and everything. Plus zombies, but we'll ignore them for now, and big questions like why throwing a paddle at a gas canister would make it explode?

But, the point is, that after years of acquisitions, back office jiggering around and slowly-but-surely beta tests, PlayStation Now has arrived in the UK, with a seven day free trial, a £13 monthly subscription, or that mad game-per-few-hours rental idea.


The key question is, would I pay for the 100 odd games currently on offer? In all honesty, I think I will, even though some of those games are already on Vita or I own via PS+ on PS3. Looking through the list though, there's enough good stuff, and more will keep coming. But its not all roses. 

I'm guessing the PS Vita app is merely a web wrapper for the PS Now service. It looks terrible, works horribly slowly and sometimes text is missing or it fails to connect, despite my Internet working fine. (You can't take screens of the app or games, so forgive these poor photos). It also seems confused about users status and your play history on an erratic basis. 


On the plus side, you can launch into a game from the Home Screen, so your recent titles are more easily accessible, but it can still be slow going. On the even better side, you get trophies (visible on the PSN tab of the Vita's trophy app).

You can also pick up and carry on a game on the PS3, PS4 or some other devices, and then move to the Vita if you have to. The Vita maps L2, L3, R2, R3, to the corners of the touchscreen, which can be rather fiddly in some games, but is manageable. 

Despite my raging fast Virgin broadband (up to six megabytes per sec downstream, 1MB up on any other device), Sony's piece of shit WiFi chip or antenna, or the security coding or something else inside means you may often see a slow or no broadband warning. Depending on the game you're playing, that will have a different level of impact. Physically, it doesn't seem to matter if I'm in the same room as my router, or upstairs. This even happens, but less often, on my wired-to-the-router PS3, so its definitely a PS Now issue.

UPDATE: Managed an hour of Uncharted Drake's Fortune on the Vita - not a blip - either the service is behaving better, or that game is less demanding on the back-end. Keep this up and I might push that score up to an 8. 

When things do judder, the game's music sounds like its playing underwater, and the screen quality can drop or start to break up, or the game can freeze. It usually only lasts a second or two but can ruin your play, inconvenience it or drop out completely. Depending on the game, autosaving means you can pick your progress pretty quickly. The likes of Sonic 4 quickly becomes unplayable, but it was rarely an issue in Dead Island. 

So, the content, and hopefully regular updates to the back-end should give PS Now more value, and make it more reliable. I just hope whichever cheapskate put that WiFi unit in the Vita is working for Sony with a mop now.

Since the Vita now has a crippling lack of big western games, this is Sony's solution - it isn't perfect but it helps solve that problem. Let's just hope Sony does some marketing of the Vita with this growing library of games as a valuable resource.

Overall, 7/10
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