Upon firing up Playstation Now on my Vita I didn't expect it to be all that great. While I find the service to be strong on the PS4, with my hardwired machine, the Vita's wifi has been nothing but trouble for me. In fact, it took me over 10 minutes to download the 100mb application... something that would take maybe 25 seconds on my PC or wired PS4/XB1.
My initial connection test revealed that I did have reason to worry. It said I did not have a suitable connection to play. I quickly remembered that the base for my wireless Turtle Beach headphones causes issues for anything wireless within a 15 mile radius, so I turned that off and tried again. It said I was good to go.
In my active rentals I have "Deadliest Warrior" which I did a 90 day rental of back when the beta was free. It's a fighting game that requires a fair amount of timing. It's not exactly Street Fighter level of timing, but it's more demanding than say a button masher like God of War. Upon starting the game up I was quite surprised by how nice it looked. On the PS4 the game looks like garbage. The low res textures mixed with intermittent bouts of artifacting made for a ugly game on the big screen. The smaller screen helps cover up the blemishes, and we also must remember that the PS3 powering these games is, in fact, much more powerful than the PS Vita is on its own.
I felt very little button lag. This wouldn't be my desired way to play the game if I was entering a competitive tournament, but to just hop in and chop off a pirate's arm, it works just great. After that I decided to rent Killzone 3 for four hours. FPS's have not been as successful on the Vita as we had first hoped when it was announced it had two sticks. Killzone also uses every button, something the Vita doesn't have (which it makes up for with touch screen options). I wanted to try something a little bit more twitchy, as Killzone is a slow and heavy feeling game before you even enter in streaming lag but the PS Now selection is lacking. The few games that did fit the bill were far more expensive to the point that even in testing I didn't want to encourage the price.
Killzone 3 on the Vita is not perfect, but after about ten minutes of thinking "this just isn't gonna work" it started to click for me. There's only two different button options in the game, plus the four presets that the PS Now app on the Vita offers, but between those I found a control scheme that was functional. I got to the point where I hopped into an online game and got a couple kills. I died far more than I did rack up kills, but I could see with practice that even online might be ok. The aiming is tough because of the modest amount of lag and the fact that the Vita sticks are shorter than the PS3's, but I didn't find that to be the gamebreaker it felt like in the beginning. This is certainly not the ideal way to play Killzone 3, but it works.
I've seen many complaints saying "I'd rather just play it on my PS3." I understand that, but I also don't think that makes you a target market. I no longer own a PS3. While Killzone 3 and Deadliest Warrior aren't anything I want to spend a lot of time with, it is proof that the system works. I never got to play Final Fantasy XIII-3. If it ends up on PS Now I may rent it. There are a number of niche JRPGs finally coming out on the system. For me personally, that's where I'm a target market.
Right after playing on the Vita I fired up the PS4 PS Now application to see the differences back to back. Killzone 3 doesn't look that bad, mostly due to solid (and blinding) lighting. The Deadliest Warrior looks like garbage. PS Now, as of now, is far better suited for smaller screens.
Now that the proof of concept is complete, the streaming service works, it is possible to even play multiplayer shooters through it, the question is... will people care? I listed the rare times I could see myself using the service. Most people I know have no reason to ever use it. The much maligned pricing has gotten better, and some of it is even decent, but there are still a few games that cost far too much. It is a beta, and things will change, but right now the software lineup is fairly mediocre. Another issue, for people like me who buy everything, is that many of the games in there I already bought, digitally, on the PS3. No matter how much I want to play Critter Crunch again I'm not going to pay to rent it when I already paid the same company to buy it on the machine it's being streamed from. That, to me, would be like if I had to rebuy my digital PSP games when I got the Vita. It's a frustrating concept that Sony is going to have to find an answer to. Because whether we should have or not, a lot of people saw this as the way to make the PS4 backwards compatible and expected games we owned to be free or at a significant discount.
Sony has a lot of things to sort out to make this a success. They did get one of the biggest hurdles out of the way, however; even in beta, it plays great.
Rain City Gamer
Thanks for the info Pete! I was very happy with PS4 PSNow experience and am looking forward to checking it out on my Vita. I like you am looking forward to one game, XCOM Enemy Within and I will DEFINITELY pour some time into it over PSNow. Until then it will just be to test it out and get an idea of what the service offers.
I've a feeling a lot of the target audience Sony see accessing through Sony TV's, Blu-ray players and other devices. Nice write up Pete.
PS Now is eventually coming to tablets and everything as well. If I can use it on my iPad with a DS4/3 bluetooth connected I'll be very happy. Still waiting for Lightning Returns to be on the service to try it.
Great article. Can't wait to get PS Now in Europe. Lets hope the pricing will improve.