Review: Sony Ericsson Xperia Play
The crux of the Xperia Play is, of course, its gaming chops. How does it work? Slide the Xperia Play open to get at the gaming controls, and the Xperia Play automatically launches the game console. From the console, you can select one of the games and start playing. The device comes pre-loaded with a handful of titles, such as Asphalt6, Bruce Lee, Crash Bandicoot, Madden NFL11, Star Battalion, Tetris, and SIMs 3.
I found that all of the games - save for Tetris - were exceedingly slow to load. Star Battalion, for example, took a full minute from the time I selected it to the time it was ready to let me play. That's a bit long in my opinion. Each game has its own set of controls and functions, although you can learn by trial and error fairly quickly.
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Game play itself was great. The games played smoothly and without stuttering or crashing. I really enjoyed Asphalt6 and Crash Bandicoot. The graphics looked outstanding on the display, and the sound quality was superb. Attached to a set of real speakers, you wouldn't know that the sound was coming from a phone and not an actual gaming console.
Several of the games offer multiplayer modes. You can play others within your direct vicinity via Wi-Fi, or worldwide via 3G. For the best results, I'd recommend you stick to Wi-Fi for multiplayer gaming. Given the choppy network capabilities of the Xperia Play, I wouldn't want to rely on it for a serious session of multiplayer gaming.
There are 28 other games available for download from the Verizon/Sony gaming store. They run the gamut from first-person shooters, to racing games, Guitar Hero, Assassin's Creed, Pac-Man, and so on.
But the real question is, is the Xperia Play a better gaming handset than any other regular Android phone? That depends a lot on what type of gaming you do. If you're a casual gamer, don't care about Sony-specific titles, and the gaming control pad, then you will probably be happy with any Android phone with respect to gaming chops.
If you're more serious about gaming, are invested in Sony's catalog, then perhaps the Xperia Play's hardware is enough to make the decision an easy one. My concern is Sony's commitment to bringing new titles to the Xperia Play platform. How long will it take to ramp up more than the few dozen titles that are available? Will it get its own exclusive content? Will the titles be different enough from what's available to standard Android phones to make a difference? These are all unknown at this point.