The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is available from today in the UK (shipping problems aside). But what sort of gaming duration can you expect from it? Will this be a flash-in-the-pan 2 hours and you’re done? Or can you game your way through the night? I needed to know, so I decided to game to battery death.
19:00hrs: 100 per cent
I settle down for a marathon gaming challenge. The irony hits me that I’m starting this gaming challenge at the same time as the rest of the tech glitterati are hitting the official VIP launch party for the Xperia Play. Pah, this is where the action is: I fire up Asphalt 6: Adrenaline and check the battery is reporting full - it is.
Four cars unlocked, I have new upgrade options and I’ve finished the Bronze level of racing the career mode, so I jump out of the game to pour some more wine. I plug in my headphones, having been playing in silence so far and check battery. It looks perfectly healthy.
As I draw to a close on Asphalt 6, the game stats tells me I’ve completed 12 per cent of the career mode, so by my calculations, that gives me about 10 hours of career racing, if it progresses at the same rate. The double/triple-tap nitro is a great tool and having the brake on the left-hand shoulder button means that drifting is pretty easy, but so far braking has been something of an optional novelty as it doesn’t seem to care if you just bounce off the crash barriers side-on.
I check the battery: it’s dropping off slightly, the screen eating its way through it and I start to regret my decision to leave Wi-Fi on: so I check my emails and I only have one, from the boss, reflecting on the hardship of this busy time in the mobile phone calendar.
I decide it’s time to hit a new game: Assassin’s Creed. I’ve played a bit of Assassin’s Creed on the Xperia Play already and I find myself back on my quest, climbing, jumping and slaying. Finally I chase down Fajera who directs me into the sewers. I keep getting flushed off the walkways and decide that I’ve had enough, after 45 minutes of the dodgy voice acting and slightly stilted cutscenes. I check the battery again and decide to download a battery meter from the Android Market to better track my progress: I’m on 70 per cent, I’ve been running for 2hrs 14 mins, most of which was gaming, and I have the munchies.
Having carved myself a slice of homemade focaccia I’d baked that morning, I settle down to Star Battalion. I put in 45min screaming around shooting things with lasers and missiles, then shooting things with lasers and missiles, then shooting things with lasers and missiles.
22:00hrs: 55 per cent
I come up at 22:00 for air, and find my battery is now on 55 per cent which suddenly feels like a bigger drop. The continuous flying and shooting with the repetitive soundtrack of Star Battalion is getting me down now; 3 hours 9 minutes have passed on the battery, my left thumb is feeling decidedly achy.
But I feel Bruce Lee calling me, so while the wife watches The Inbetweeners on E4 and examines virtual haircuts online, I’m off to become the Dragon Master. I’ve put a few hours into Bruce Lee already and 40 minutes later I’m stuck on a Survival level. I have at least managed to crack out an 8 hit combo and pulled off the legendary 1-inch punch.
Hitting the home button I put on a little music and fire up Splinter Cell Conviction. This is the first time I’ve played Splinter Cell and as with many of the games I’ve installed on the Play, once you start the game it then goes off to download data. It’s only 180MB, but it seems to take an age, so I switch back to Bruce Lee for a bit more fighting, with music, which doesn’t really help me. At least thanks to Android's multitasking it doesn't mind doing these things all at the same time.
23:06hrs: 40 per cent
I’ve been gaming pretty much straight-up since 19:00hrs, and in those 4 hours I’ve depleted 60 per cent of the battery. I’ve broken the back of the Xperia Play’s game life, Shameless is on the TV, the wife has retired to bed and Splinter Cell has finished downloading. Sam Fisher gets serious.
Splinter Cell is a great game, but the transition to Xperia Play controls seems to be confusing. I find myself using a mixture of screen and buttons, the analogue sticks seem too unpredictable to look around the environment and move accurately.
One thing that goes against the fixed controls of the Xperia Play is how the actions change in game. So far there doesn’t appear to be a direct translation - it’s easier to hit the control on the screen because you know what it’s going to do. Perhaps this is the effect of 5 hours of gaming? Splinter Cell: Conviction at least as some sort of plot and graphically it’s interesting, with plenty of variety, so I do want to play some more.
00:10hrs: 27 per cent
It’s just gone midnight. My left-thumb has decided that actually it can cope with what I’m asking it to do. But my neck is starting to ache from staring intently at the screen. The battery is now sitting at 27 per cent. It’s telling me that 5 hrs 15 mins have been spent on battery, almost all of it gaming.
To give my thumb a rest I glance at Twitter and see that the Xperia Play launch party was actually pretty good, with reports of celebrities, plastic hand grenades and thumping bass. I’m going to hit Real Football 2011 and like other new games, it dances off to download data, but only 80MB which arrives in a flash.
00:52hrs: 14 per cent
The last 27 per cent of the battery runs away like the ball at Heskey’s feet as I fire up the session of Real Football 2011. It’s my first time playing this particular take on football and, as I’m not a massive football game fan, I’m glad to steer England to a hollow victory over Spain in my first match. I ignore all tactics and can’t figure out the translation to the Xperia Play controls properly. Once again the tutorial is designed for the on-screen controls, labelled A and B, but I seem to get on fine with the cross and triangle buttons.
The game is interrupted by a warning that I only had 14 per cent battery left at 00:52hrs, 10 minutes later and I’m on 10 per cent: I eagerly await the end, we're coasting on bingo fuel.
01:18hrs: 3 per cent and we're done
And there we have it. We’ve hit rock bottom. The phone is telling me that it’s been 6 hrs 26 mins 43 sec since I unplugged it. I’ve spent as much time gaming as I possibly could, allowing time for the occasional comfort break and a slice of some very fine focaccia.
I was wrong about the thumb: it hurts like hell. When I tried playing Asphalt 6 (which seems to be my favourite game of the lot) in these dying minutes I couldn’t really control the car when drifting round the corners.
Satisfied that the battery is gone, I race to the wall charger to plug it in. Just as I pick up the Micro-USB cable to keep the phone alive, a buzz from the Xperia Play signals that it has drawn its final breath.
You can read our full Sony Ericsson Xperia Play review here.