The Art of Gaming

Product Review – Sony Xperia Play (Verizon Wireless)

Hello all!

I’m usually pretty up to date with the latest and greatest technology on all fronts, so I’m pretty embarrassed to say I’ve been carrying the same old cell phone around for more than four years!   Kudos to LG for making a great phone (2nd generation chocolate) that lasted as long as it did, but I sure am glad to finally get my upgrade.

I’ve stepped into the world of the smart phone, and to celebrate the occasion I’ve decided to do a product review of my Sony Ericsson PlayStation phone, the Sony Xperia Play

 

The Xperia Play is an “Andriod” phone (gingerbread 2.3) with a 1Ghz processor, 512MB RAM and 8GB of pre-installed disk space on a micro SD card.  Being me, I upgraded my internal card to the maximum size supported by the device almost immediately (32GB).  :)  I won’t go anymore into the basics, because for the most part, it functions nearly identical to all the other android phones.   There is one feature, however, that is very unique to this phone.

Sliding the Xperia Play’s touch screen screen up from the horizontal position reveals a smaller version of a PlayStation controller.  It includes the familiar four directional D-Pad, X, square, triangle, circle buttons, the L1, R1, Start and Select buttons, and dual touch sensitive analog pads.     The configuration is definitely a little cramped, but all things considered I think it’s the correct size.  It certainly doesn’t need to be any smaller, and if the controller was made any larger, the sleek, pocket sized design would be lost.

 

The Xperia Play came loaded with six games, and all but one was pretty disappointing (Crash Bandicoot).   Despite my lack of interest, I fiddled around with most of the other games for a while to get a feel for how the controller responded to a variety of different genres.  It took more than a little getting used to the “analog sticks”, but after a couple hours I was able to get a better feel for how they worked.  They’re far from perfect, but they work well enough and I think they will prove useful when Sony releases more titles.

From what I can tell, there are two groups of titles for the Xperia Play.  The first group includes Android games available to all Android phones from the market place.  The second is a group of games released as Xperia Play exclusives – many of which being old PlayStation 1 games.   I’m new to “cell phone” gaming, but I have to say I’m not particularly impressed with either of these groups so far.

I have spent a good deal of time searching and I have only been tempted to purchase one – a turned based, artillery type strategy game called Worms – a familiar classic ported to many different consoles.  I went ahead and purchased the $3 title, but I anxiously await Pocket Tanks a very similar, lesser-known title that I enjoy more.

Personally, I think Sony has an untapped gold mine with the Xperia Play.  Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, Chrono Cross, Twisted Metal are just a few titles that would not only be instantly purchased by device owners, but would sell the device itself.    I have no idea why they haven’t released any games like this yet, because the device is built to handle these titles, but I certainly hope they do soon.

 

If you’ve read About Me, you know I’m a huge fan of older games.  Naturally, my favorite  part about the Xperia Play is it’s ability to run 3rd party emulators.   I have found the Xperia Play can successfully run Atari, NES, SNES, SEGA GENISIS, Gameboy, Gameboy Advanced, PS1 and yes…Nintendo 64 games all pretty smoothly.  :)  The “analog sticks” do not function with the 3rd party emulators (yet), so only the D-Pad for now – but overall, very impressive.

I know…any Android phone can run these applications, but it’s the on-board controller on the Xperia Play that sets it apart from the rest.  All the other phones use virtual buttons on the touch screen or tiny assigned buttons on a QWERTY keyboard.  (Playing games with your fingers in front of the screen isn’t too much fun)

The built in controller, although a bit cramped, allows the phone to transform into a hand-held gaming device.   Once you start playing, it’s not difficult to forget you’re playing on a cell phone.   It’s not as ergonomic, but in my opinion, it plays enough like a hand held to enjoy.   I certainly had doubts of my own when purchasing this device, but it’s safe to say – I’m impressed.

However…the Xperia Play it’s not for everyone.  For those not sure if they will use the Xperia Play for regular gaming…it’s a tough sell.

The Xperia Play can do most everything other Android phones can do, but it does have a couple notable shortcomings.  First off, the camera is a bit below average with a resolution of 5MP vs some 8MP, and for whatever reason, it cannot record 720p video – which is strange because the hardware is definitely capable of doing so (software update?).  The built in controller adds a little bit of extra thickness and weight to the phone that other Android models do not have and the Xperia Play is a 3G device, so it will not be downloading as fast as the 4G phones in the 4G areas.

Personally, I don’t care about these small gripes because I more than make up for the losses by taking advantage of the built in controller.  I can easily see, however, some may value other features over a built in controller.

In the end, the Xperia Play is a hybrid device.  It’s not a perfect smart phone, and not a perfect hand held.  Anyone looking at this device should understand this before they buy.   I personally accept it for what it is, and love it.

That’s all for now.  Game on!

 

-Pete

 

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