Everything You Need to Know About Sony’s PlayStation Vita Launch

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Will My PSP Games Work?

The PS Vita will play PSP games, but won’t take the PSP’s UMD game discs, so if you want to play PSP games, you’ll have to buy and download them from the PlayStation Store. That said, you’ll have the option use the Vita’s second analog stick in select PSP games (to pan the view around in a first-person shooter, say) by simply remapping the controls.

Will It Support My Favorite Social Network?

Probably. While these are all “coming in early 2012,” Sony says the Vita will eventually have access to Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Flickr and Foursquare via freebie app downloads from the PlayStation Store.

What’ll It Cost?

The basic Wi-Fi model runs $249.99, while the version with integrated 3G will set you back $299.99.

(MORE: E3 2011: Sony’s New 3D Monitor, $249 ‘Vita’ Handheld, ‘Uncharted 3’ Gameplay)

How About Games?

While you’ll no doubt be able to buy games for less once developers have bite-sized Vita content up on the PlayStation Store, the average going price for a Vita game is currently $39.99 (a handful are $10 more, others are $10 less).

What Are the Launch-Day Titles?

From Sony Computer Entertainment America: Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational, Super Stardust Delta, Little Deviants, ModNation Racers: Roadtrip, Wipeout 2048, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Escape Plan and Hustle Kings.

From third-party publishers: Army Corps of Hell (Square Enix), Asphalt Injection (Ubisoft), BEN10 GALACTIC RACING (D3), Blazblue: Continuum Shift EXTEND (Aksys Games Localization), Dungeon Hunter Alliance (Gameloft), Dynasty Warriors Next (Tecmo Koei), F1 2011 (Codemasters), FIFA Soccer (Electronic Arts), Lumines Electronic Symphony (Ubisoft), Michael Jackson The Experience (Ubisoft), Rayman Origins (Ubisoft), Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen (Namco Bandai), Tales of Space: Mutant Blobs (Drinkbox Studios), Touch My Katamari (Namco Bandai), Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (Capcom), Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition (Sega) and just announced — Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus.

What Else Do I (Probably) Have to Buy?

The Vita ships without built-in storage (like the PSP before it), which means you’ll have to buy proprietary memory sticks (from Sony) if you want to save games or download content from the PlayStation Store (some games may let you save to the game card itself, but not all). Sony’s price lineup Vita-brand memory cards is as follows: $20 for 4GB, $30 for 8GB, $60 for 16GB, and $100 for 32GB. Note that it’s possible to backup or transfer data between memory cards, but you’ll need a PC or PS3 (as intermediary) to do so.

If you opt for the pricier $299.99 3G model, you’ll have to pay AT&T for the privilege (AT&T’s the exclusive wireless carrier for the system). An “AT&T Data Connect” plan for the Vita runs $14.99 per month for 250MB and $30 per month for 3GB. Both plans have 30-day recurring opt out options and include complimentary access to about 29,000 AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots in the U.S. Note that the 3G feature is currently touted as a way to socialize with friends, sync news feeds, and play turn-based games — just like using your 3G phone tethered to your PC for Internet access, the connection won’t be fast enough to handle head-to-head racing sessions or first-person shooter square-offs.

You might want to budget $10-$20 for a carrying case and/or a pack of screen protectors, too — remember that we’re talking a full five inches of OLED screen real estate you’ll want to protect. And depending on your needs, there may be a decent pair of headphones, a cleaning cloth, and a car power adapter to think about.

Does It Support the PlayStation Network?

Of course, but what’s more (and unlike the PSP), PS Vita games now support PlayStation Trophies — Sony’s version of game achievements — too.

How Much Space Do Saved Games Take Up?

This varies by game, of course, but to give you an idea based on back-of-the-box specs, a game like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 requires 4,096 KB, Uncharted: Golden Abyss needs 64 MB and FIFA Soccer will use a whopping 160 MB.

When Can I Actually Get One?

Both models go on sale in the U.S. on Wednesday, Feb. 22 (the system originally launched in Japan on Dec. 17, 2011). [Update: Some stores will sell the Wi-Fi + 3G model early as a “PlayStation Vita First Edition Bundle,” basically the high-end $299.99 Vita (Wi-Fi + 3G) bundled with Little Deviants (free), a “limited edition” case, a DataConnect Session Pass (basically a chunk of pre-purchased AT&T 3G air time), and a 4GB memory card for $349.99. Its release date: Wednesday, Feb. 15, a full week ahead of the general public launch. You can either order it online and have it shipped direct, or pick it up in one of the stores, some of which are offering midnight launch parties.]

MORE: 5 Game Stories to Watch in 2012

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