The Tuesday Triple: Vita Remote Play

This is The Tuesday Triple, where I attempt to break down random topics into three points, and maybe an “and one” if I need it. Similar to the established Friday Five by Andrew, the topics will be related to basketball video games and their communities as a whole.

About a month ago I found an auction on eBay I couldn’t pass up. I finally got a PlayStation Vita, the current portable console from Sony, for a little more than $90. It was a great deal and I got very lucky with how great the condition is for something I got for so cheap, used. Since NBA 2K13 was the last basketball game to come out for the old PSP, I wasn’t getting this for playing virtual basketball on the go. I wanted it for Remote Play with my PlayStation 4. For those unaware, you can stream from the PlayStation 4 to the Vita and play without a controller or a TV. So now that I have had plenty of time to play NBA 2K14 and NBA Live 14 with it, I figured I would give some of my impressions of Remote Play basketball.

Free Throw – It Works!

I don’t really know how else to put it, but remote play works and it’s pretty awesome. Being able to boot up the PS4 if it’s in standby mode works, I can shut it down, buy stuff on PSN, take screenshots or videos and transfer them to USB, or most importantly redeem Locker Codes in 2K14. I mean it is just like having a controller and display in a handheld…which is good, and what it’s supposed to do. I rarely run into issues where my WiFi will force the resolution or frame rate to drop and the latency is noticeable compared to playing on a TV but I haven’t had to compensate for it.

For clarity sake, I am using this as a way to watch my kids and still be able to play games (father of the year!). So being able to do the standby boot with the Vita, load up a game on the PS4, and still be mobile is very helpful. Depending on what they are doing, I can usually get a game or two of my 2-minute quarter basketball games in before I need to turn it off.

Hook Shot – It Looks Nice!

I was able to snag one of the 1100 model Vitas, which is the revision of the launch model. You may or may not know that last month a 2000 version came out, which improved a lot of things but replaced the OLED screen with an LCD one. While I have not played the new version of the Vita to compare, I have to admit that this OLED screen is very, very, pretty.

When using the remote play though, it can be a mixed bag. Remote play is limited to 30fps (for obvious reasons) and the small screen at 960×544 resolution shows a noticeable drop in quality when zoomed out. In replay mode you can still see all the details if you zoom in and during gameplay the downgrades aren’t that noticeable. The main thing is that I can read all damn MyGM text without squinting.


Three Pointer – The Controls Are…

ugh. First off, even though there is a second stick on the Vita, it doesn’t compare to the full controller sticks. It works fine but leaves a lot to be desired for me with my big hands. The absolute worst thing is the default mapping for the triggers (Vita only has 2 shoulder buttons) and clicking the thumbsticks in. You have to tap and hold the back touchpad to emulate those inputs, meaning there is no feathering for slow motion replays and hand cramps if you play like I do.

So to sprint in NBA 2K14 and NBA Live 14 you need to touch and hold the upper right quadrant of the back touchpad. I got used to it, but the positioning gives me cramps in my palm. It sucks since other PS4 games like Infamous remap their control schemes to swap R1/R2 L1/L2 when using the Vita, which would be great for NBA 2K15 and NBA Live 15, hint hint.

Overall, I am very happy with my Vita. The remote play for basketball games (despite the control mapping) is very playable and other games have been working great too. I also had a bunch of “FREE” PlayStation Plus games for Vita too, including the amazing Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed, which all look great on the OLED and 60fps for some Vita games. If you have a PlayStation 4, I would recommend getting a Vita, even if your best reason to use remote play (which doesn’t require a memory card FYI) is to game while watching the NBA Finals or something else on your gaming TV.

I hope you enjoyed this little review. If you have any questions about the Vita, I’ll do my best to answer them in the comments below.

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June 10, 2014 5:39 pm

Solid review, should hopefully help out those thinking of playing the NBA PS4 releases on the Vita. As much as I love tech and gaming, I might give it a miss myself. It’d be an unnecessary gimmick for me, with my setup the TV, console, and regular controller suit my purposes just fine.