Naughty Dog turned the Uncharted page in style last Saturday evening at the Spike TV Video Game Awards. The Last of Us has many PS3 owners licking their chops at another exclusive heavyweight. Meanwhile, Nathan Drake lives on in Uncharted: Golden Abyss, a PS Vita launch title developed by another Sony-owned team – this one responsible for Resistance: Retribution on the PSP – called SCE Bend Studio. Their current project is commonly described as being “overseen” by the franchise’s original mommas and poppas over at Naughty Dog, but Sony America’s Frank Simon calls it a mutual and level collaboration. Yes, Nathan Drake is in good hands, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss strikes a familiar note in sight, sound, and feel.
My first venture into the portable Nathan Drake had me picking my way through a broken down wooden structure. As usual, the HUD is pleasantly nonexistent, and the platforming elements have a learning curve as horizontal as Nathan’s obstacles aren’t. In no time I was clambering over crates and throwing myself onto the yellow pipes worming through brick walls.
I was seeking evidence of torture, and having found them – a grim rack and an interrogation chair – I proceeded to take photo evidence. That’s when the Vita’s motion sensor kicked in. Twisting and turning the handheld changed the content of the frame within it. It was pretty satisfying finally getting that 100% on photo quality.
Another chapter tasked me with providing cover fire for a friendly, staying aware from a vantage point and sniping foes as they popped up. Again the Vita’s motion controls were at my disposal, and they worked pretty well for that last second adjustment before letting the slug fly. Motion control features are available for every gun in the game, and can also be turned off by skeptics (or those uncomfortable with twisting over to their neighbor on the plane just to aim true).
A funny application of the Vita’s features is that of the game menu. Neither D-pad nor left analog stick will work here. You can almost hear Sony whispering in your ears: “Swipe, damn it! Witness the responsiveness!” Eh. If I have to, okay.
My time with Golden Abyss was far too short to make any far-reaching judgments whatsoever, but it seems as if Bend Studio is respecting the game’s ancestry, and looking to provide an unmistakably “Uncharted” experience on the PS Vita’s fateful day: February 22nd, 2012.