This is the reason you will buy a NGP/PS Vita/PSP2. You don’t need to read about any other games. In fact, if you just look at the screenshots and the video included in this preview, you should be convinced. Yes, it’s looking that good. If for some reason you want more information, I’ve got you covered.
Let’s begin with the game’s developer, Sony Bend. You might remember them as my favorite first-party developer from the PSP’s heyday. These were the guys behind the two Syphon Filter games and Resistance: Retribution. That means they know Sony’s portable hardware like no ones business. It also means Sony has realized their full potential and has challenged them with creating the one-stop showpiece for the PS Vita (are we calling it that now?) From what we’ve seen thus far, the developer will not disappoint.
What you can expect right from the beginning is a true Uncharted experience. Sony Bend made sure to use the same motion capture studio as Naughty Dog. Nolan North returns to voice Drake, and as you can tell from the screenshots, they nailed the atmosphere. Gameplay is also pretty much what you’d expect. There are platforming elements, lots of action and a deep storyline. In fact Sony Bend says there are over two hours of in-game cutscenes used to flesh out the story. That is about the same as what the previous two Uncharted games featured. In terms of where Golden Abyss falls in the canon, it takes place before Drake’s Fortune.
If you’re kind of nervous about another developer taking over the reigns don’t be. The creative director at Naughty Dog is helping Sony Bend create a game that feels like a natural extension of the others. The standalone story won’t feature the same cast of characters as the previous titles, but that’s actually a good thing because it allows players to experience an entirely new experience. You remember Resistance: Retribution don’t you?
The advanced technology in the PS Vita/NGP allows the game to make use of dynamic lighting, 250K character-polygons, real-time lighting and environments that look better than anything we’ve ever seen on the PSP, PS1 and PS2. Sure it doesn’t quite make it up to par with the PS3, but honestly, it’s extremely close. Hands-down this is the nicest looking portable videogame I have ever seen, and by far the most complex. Animations are tight and fluid and the small touches make you come to understand why Sony wanted to make a dedicated videogame portable instead of just another device that can do it all.
The PS Vita/NGP features several different input controls. There’s the traditional buttons, but there’s also the touch screen, a sixaxis gyroscope, and a trackpad on the rear of the device. Some of these input methods are being used creatively while others are more of a gimmick than anything else. For example, using the back trackpad to climb up a rope by flicking your index finger one over the other. Is that really necessary instead of just pressing upwards on the analog? One that works well is if you see a weapon in the background, just touch it and Drake will go and pick it up. Want to peer over an edge of a cliff, just tilt the NGP. If you need to throw a grenade from cover, you can tap where you want it to go. I’m glad to report that if these advanced controls aren’t your cup of tea, you can turn them off. That should please a lot of the more traditional players out there, or those that simply don’t find these controls that comfortable.
Golden Abyss still has a few more kinks that need to be ironed out before launch, like the weight of the guns and touch-input delays, but Sony Bend is aware of the issues. They’re also one of the best internal studios Sony has and I’m positive what little is wrong with the game will be cleared up before launch. Keep in mind there’s over a half a year before this device launches, if not more.
I wasn’t sure about the PS Vita/NGP or whatever it finally ends up being called, but after seeing so much of Uncharted: Golden Abyss I’m convinced. I adore this series and now that I know this is a brand new stand-alone game I simply cannot miss out. If you’re a fan of the series neither can you. Once E3 officially kicks off next week we’ll let you know exactly when you can expect to get your hands on Drake’s next masterpiece.