Digital Foundry vs. E3: Sony • Page 3

A technical perspective on Vita, its games and the PS3 big guns.

Saves can be shared between PS3 and Vita versions of the game, but Sony is unsure how to price the game. The concept of buying both titles doesn't really sit right from a value perspective and there is talk that it may well be presented as an add-on to the existing WipEout HD/Fury.

Also supporting cross-platform compatibility is Ruin, a Diablo style game that seemed to look nice, if a little dated on Vita, but enjoyed considerable upgrades when transferring across to PS3. Frame-rate is clearly 60Hz, character shadows and particle effects were bumped up and SSAO seems to have been added. The ability to save your game on one platform and move across to the other, picking up exactly where you left off, is quite remarkable and perfectly implemented for an action RPG. We'll be watching this one closely.

Cross-platform convergence was also showcased rather effectively with LittleBigPlanet too, which promises to allow for the inclusion of existing user-generated content on the portable game. The compatibility between the first game and the sequel on PS3 isn't perfect, and level developers have really pushed the envelope in terms of what the editor is capable of, so the level of compatibility with the Vita version will be interesting.

As for the game itself - what we saw was v-synced, with a target frame-rate of 30 frames per second, but there did appear to be the occasional issue with performance. Once again, we'd strongly recommend downloading the Vita trailer from PSN, which is lavished with bandwidth and is encoded at 60FPS (even if the game doesn't run that smoothly). Overall image quality is lavish and it has transitioned beautifully onto the portable screen, with just the low resolution, simply filtered shadowmaps presenting any kind of "jaggies" to the overall presentation.

LittleBigPlanet on Vita looks absolutely gorgeous, and looks set to be compatible with all the existing user-generated content out there. Remarkable stuff.

A revamped, reprogrammed Mod Nation Racers also appeared at the conference. Clearly the use of the front and rear touchscreens in sculpting the landscape was a superb use of the technology, but the game itself disappointed - certainly from a performance perspective. V-sync is engaged here, but frame-rate was immensely variable - very similar to the PS3 version, in fact.

Another title we spent hands-on time with was Virtua Tennis 4. From a visual perspective, the overall impression is that this is very, very close indeed to the Xbox 360 version, running at a lower resolution, but still retaining 4x MSAA.

In addition to the standard control method, the touchscreen can also be used for both movement and shots, with the player simply swiping the screen to execute shots. It seems a touch forgiving, but it is a new and interesting way of playing the game and purists can stick with the traditional controls if that's what they would prefer.

WipEout on Vita looked impressive, but performance was a bit of an issue for the game as we saw it. The ability to share game saves with a forthcoming PS3 version is a really nice feature.

Overall impressions of Vita are very, very impressive. At the core of the machine is a quad core ARM 11 CPU married to a PowerVR SGX543 MP4. In effect, what we are looking at is a SoC (system on chip) that is akin to two Apple A5 processors working in parallel. Combine this with all the advantages of an operating system designed exclusively for games and we are seeing a level of mobile power that is a clear leap above the competition - in the here and now, at least.

It's also great to see that the asking price for system is reasonable, coming in at around 230 for the WiFi model, based on recent retailer pre-orders: exactly the same as we saw for 3DS, and while Sony's handheld lacks auto-stereoscopic 3D, the overall quality of the visuals looks like an order of magnitude higher.

Questions remain about whether the sheer complexity and ambition of the games here is right for the mobile market, but the form factor of the unit, the quality of the screen, and the big name games are all factors that make Vita a hugely compelling proposition. An exclusive reveal of Call of Duty on Vita would have been the icing on the cake, but what we got was still very satisfying and more than enough to win over the core audience.

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