I was asked to attend the On The Go Mums With 3 event last week but other things have rather taken over and I couldn’t attend! However, when they read that The Tall One had just turned fifteen, they asked if he’d like to try out the Xperia Play. Of course he would! Here’s his review!
The Xperia Play is Sony’s attempt at creating a mobile gaming phone for a more serious gaming market. It adds to the now wide-spread use of touch screen gaming on mobile phones with a slide out game pad, featuring a set of high quality responsive buttons, two shoulder buttons and two analogue touch pads (as a substitute for the analogue sticks used on Sony’s PlayStation consoles), while still retaining a high quality four inch multi-touch screen. This layout is very comfortable and intuitive, and lends itself to longer gaming sessions. Unfortunately the slide out game pad means that the device is very bulky- a full 16mm thick.
The phone’s speakers aren’t nearly as tinny as some of its counterparts, the practical applications of this being that you won’t have to plug in headphones when playing games if you don’t want to be driven mad by the poor-quality noise. This carries over to phone calls as well; the sound is all very crisp and clear.
In the telecommunications aspect, the phone can call, text and email people (I am reliably informed that these features come as standard). The phone runs on the latest Android operating system (they call it ‘Gingerbread’. Whatever possessed them to name it after a biscuit is beyond me), and it is all very user-friendly. I myself find the interface of the iPhone nicer, but I guess that comes down to personal preference.
However, there is one particular area in which the interface falls down, and unfortunately it is the main selling point of the system. The menus from which you access the games are poorly laid out, and they are in two different places. Basically, at launch there are two kinds of games available for the system. There is a selection of old-school PlayStation titles (like Crash Bandicoot), and a bunch of crudely adapted multi-format phone titles (Fifa, Assassins Creed, the Sims etc.), and with such a wide variety of games there is something to appeal to everyone (my sister is obsessed with The Sims). Sliding out the game controls launches the menu for the latter, but from there you cannot access the PlayStation games; instead, you have to exit the menu and trawl through the phone’s main menu until you find the relevant games. This is all unnecessarily convoluted. Sony may fix this at some point in the future, but for now at least it is unnecessarily awkward.
Some of the titles from the android marketplace are also poorly converted for the platform. In one instance a game requests that you press the A button, when the phone does not possess one. This is just one example of how the titles have been shoddily ported from touch screen devices.
It is better to think of this as less of a phone with a games console and more of a games console with a phone; it isn’t worth getting this unless you want to play the games. The phone itself all works very well, and when you are playing the games it is very comfortable and easy to use, but the difficult gaming menus prevent this from reaching the perfect hybridisation of games console and phone. For now I think I’ll just stick with my 3DS.
Disclosure: We were loaned a Sony Ericsson Xperia Play on the Three Network using all you can eat data for the purposes of this review. The views and words are entirely my son’s and, apart from one missing apostrophe, completely unedited by me.