20 February 2011

Hands-on / Xperia Play

After years of rumors and speculation Sony are finally giving us a PlayStation Phone. Kinda.

The recently announced Xperia Play may not hold the iconic brand name of the gaming giant, but the controls make it unmistakably PlayStation. We got some time to play around with the kit earlier this week, helping us to decide if this really was the gaming phone we’d been waiting for.

The Play will be instantly accessible to anyone who’s put their hands on an iPad, iPhone, or other smartphones recently. Boasting a slick 4.2 inch touchscreen, it’s simple and fast to navigate the menus, selecting Android apps/games and bringing up Widgets. Our model was loaded with the usual assortment of apps like YouTube and Facebook, all of which are easy to access. It seems like the device already has the basics covered, then.

But let’s be honest here, you probably already know how it’s going to work as a phone, what you’re here for is the games. Like giddy school children we scrolled straight to the first game we saw, Asphault 6 (leaving little time to wonder if there had actually been an Asphault 1 – 5). Flicking up the screen to reveal the buttons is a smooth action, although the task of then holding the set is admittedly a little cramped. Thumbs had no problem dancing around the d-pad and face buttons, but our fingers felt a little awkward reaching around the back of the phone to grab the L and R triggers. It’s not a deal-breaker as we managed to adjust as we kept playing, so the initial feel isn’t something that should put users off.

Onto the game, then. First impressions of Asphault 6 were a good indication of what we can expect from the phone; solid graphics and responsive controls, the latter of which is something we’ve been yearning for in this current generation of phones. The game itself seemed pretty fun, but more than anything it was reassuring to see a product of this quality running on the hardware. D-pad controls are definitely the way to go at this point in time; using the touch pad that’s meant to replicate analog sticks sent us straight into a wall, although we’re sure that’s just a case of practice makes perfect. Buttons are great, but if you’re “new wave” and want to stick to touch controls, you’ll get those too. In this sense the Xperia Play offers the best of both worlds.

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