Gamescom 2012: Next Sony PSN Vita Hands On

Sony showed its PlayStation VITA platform at Gamescom 2012 in Germany. Ant Pruitt says the quality, exclusivity and breadth games it offers will determine its success.

The minute Gamescom 2012 kicked off in Cologne, Germany this week, Sony chief Jim Ryan took the stage.

The president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe was here to announce a set of advanced new features for the next Sony PlayStation platform. He said the focus was on creating a more innovating gaming experience with a heavier emphasis on social.

Then he opened the kimono. Kind of. Scroll down and you’ll see what I mean. Bottom line: The solution is captivating, but pricey. So tthere had better be great games for it this Christmas season. Games make or break.

Image credit: Gamescom 2012

The PlayStation Vita device is Sony’s popular handheld gaming platform. Pricey at $250 SRP, it still captivates me.

There are a lot of reasons I see for that. I say its display is brilliant and its multitouch controls so far look great. And there will be games — that’s make or break for any gamemaker at the holidays. At the show, though, Ryan implied Sony has an all star major gaming lineup to take advantage of the new Playstation Experience.

How is it different?

What will it take for Sony to live up to Ryan’s promises and really develop a must-have gaming product in this upcoming Playstation upgrade? Based on just the display and multitouch, Ryan says.

Sony is expecting success. But as I must underline, the results will depend on the quality and breadth of games available for the platform — more than product platform improvements alone.

Sony tweaked the Playstation Vita gaming experience to revolve around three aspects. Those are: touch, rear touch and tilt.

This trifecta of controls allows game developers to maximize the hardware of the Playstation Vita. Gameplay for the popular Little Big Planet franchise is immersive to an insane degree on the PS Vita.

If found the analog sticks and buttons have their functionality roles in the game, but adding tilt motion brings the experience to life.

Image credit Gamescom 2012

Sony will continue to ride the wave of success from Little Big Planet.

Also, Sony’s development partner, Media Molecule, introduced a new game called Tearaway. This game allows the user to have “god-like powers” of the world Tearaway as they try to navigate the main character, Iota, through each level.

Inspired by a typical sheet of paper, Tearaway uses all of the multitouch functions the Sony PlayStation Vita has to offer.  That’s what made it an impressive hands-on first experience for me. We’ll see how it performs in real life when Sony releases it.

The exciting part of the demo was when Alex Evan’s graphic designer used his finger to tap the rear screen simulating the the ground of the game tearing away like a sheet of paper. Check it out. As you can see,  it’s even possible to use voice to manipulate what happens on the levels (1:40 mark).

Below you’ll find the official trailer of Tearaway.

Sony wants the gaming experience to be more social, Ryan says. Does it pass muster. Again, time will tell.

For sure, the new Cross Buy feature will allow PS3 owners to get a free PS vita version of their game to play with PS Vita friends as well as PSP friends.

PlayStation Mobile promises fuller social gaming experiences across Android based phones and tablets for the holidays, too. It’s a lot of promise to deliver on but Sony typically has little problem delivering.

At any rate, gamers can purchase a game from the cloud based PlayStation store and play it on all of their mobile devices.

Sony also announced more DLC will be available (as expected) for the new Call of Duty Black Ops 2 on PS3, but surprisingly mentioned a Call of Duty Black Ops Declassified for the PS Vita! The Vita version will have the gameplay such as Kill Confirmed, Team Death Match and Domination. A special bundle will be available for the holidays which includes a Call of Duty pouch, the game and a special WiFi PS Vita with a black Call of Duty casing. Other notable games included highly anticipated Assassins Creed III Liberation, Killzone Mercenary for the Vita and a scary feature game called Until Dawn. PlayStation Plus subscribers also have new perks in the works.

Sony looks to further innovate the gaming experience with great titles, loyalty programs and a social gaming experience. Will this be the holiday season of Sony?

A, I’m senor tech editor Ant Pruitt.