The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play tries to be the first Android-powered (Gingerbread 2.3) smartphone with a video gaming focus. Its set of slide-out videogame controls provides the only real gaming advantage over other newer Android phones like the Samsung Droid Charge and HTC ThunderBolt.
Verizon Wireless is the carrier for all three phones, and a recent price drop to $99 (with 2-year contract with data plan) finally makes the Xperia Play more competitive with its more powerful and more expensive brethren.
This “PlayStation Certified” smartphone comes with six preloaded games which run the gamut from racing to the Sims. The Xperia Play’s slide-out videogame controls – including two “analog” touch joysticks – are the handset’s only real advantage over other contemporary Android phones, and each games uses the controls with varying levels of success.
Asphalt 6 shines on the Xperia Play
Gameloft’s racer, Asphalt 6, is the highlight of the Xperia Play’s preloaded content. The game effectively uses the slide-out controls, although touchscreen control schemes are also available. Drifting and the Nitro function are easier using the videogame controls. Other than the enhanced controls, the Xperia Play version of Asphalt 6 is identical to the iOS and Android versions.
The Xperia Play’s Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee is essentially a martial arts fighter with the brand of the fighting movie legend. The game is a well-done button-masher with fast-paced fighting and a host of combo moves. Fans of fighting games will find Bruce Lee to be a worthy member of their Xperia Play game library.
Crash Bandicoot resurrected on the Xperia Play
The Xperia Play’s version of the classic PlayStation One platform-adventure tilt, Crash Bandicoot, is a direct copy of the original. Despite that, it’s annoying the analog touch-sticks on the slide-out controls aren’t supported. Still, its inclusion on the Xperia Play is worthy considering the title’s place in video game history.
Madden 11 struggles with control on the Xperia Play
The Xperia Play version of Madden 11 is arguably the weakest of the six preloaded games. Any mobile version of Madden (or NCAA Football for that matter) struggles with rendering 3D graphics, especially in the passing game. This version also features a confusing control scheme using a combination of the touchscreen and slide-out controls.
Star Battalion brings outer space combat to the Xperia Play
Star Battalion is an excellent 3D outer space shooter from Gameloft. The Xperia Play version is a near copy of the current iOS and Android editions, but with support for the slide-out controls. Flying is easier using the directional buttons as supposed to the analog touch-sticks, but this version definitely rocks the Xperia Play.
The Sims 3 on the Xperia Play
Finally, a version of The Sims 3 rounds out the collection of preloaded games on the Xperia Play. Fans of previous incarnations of The Sims will feel at home with this version. The graphics and control scheme are both well-done, making the title a nice alternative to the more action-oriented content on the smartphone.
Currently, there are 25 other Xperia Play-compatible games available through Verizon. The future success of the Xperia Play depends on a consistent supply of additional gaming content supporting the Xperia Play’s slide-out controls, as normal Android games available through the Android Market feature touchscreen control only.