|System: PS Vita|
|Dev: SCE Bend Studios|
|Release: February 22, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p/td>||Blood, Drug Reference, Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence|
by Scott Nichols
On PlayStation 3, the Uncharted series redefined what a cinematic game experience could be. Each game in the series has introduced increasingly grandiose set and some of the best voice and character acting in the industry. But now Nathan Drake is exploring his most unfamiliar territory yet: Sony's upcoming PlayStation Vita. And with Naughty Dog out of the driver's seat, many fans are wondering if Uncharted: Golden Abyss will live up to the series' high standards on the small screen.
Though Naughty Dog isn't working on Golden Abyss, fans should be reassured to learn that Sony's Bend Studio is at the helm. Bend Studio has been responsible for the Siphon Filter series, including bringing that series and Resistance to the PSP. And unlike the concessions that needed to be made for PSP adaptations, Vita has a nearly identical control layout to the PlayStation 3. So obviously dual-analog aiming is going to be a huge factor in bringing Golden Abyss closer to the console experience, but that doesn't mean there won't be some Vita-specific twists to take advantage of the new technology.
In addition to dual analog aiming, Uncharted: Golden Abyss will feature what Sony calls its Intu-Aim system. Essentially, this adds tilt control when a weapon is drawn for greater accuracy. For example, players can easily make large camera movements with the right stick to target enemies, then tilt the system slightly to pick off head shots or a stray limb peeking out from behind cover with pinpoint accuracy. The feature can be turned off entirely by purists, but this should start sounding very appealing to anyone who has ever lamented that a mouse and keyboard is more accurate than a controller.
Intu-Aim isn't all that's new, as Uncharted: Golden Abyss will take advantage of the Vita's touchscreen. Picking up weapons and ammo is as simple as tapping on them and swiping your finger across a ledge will send Drake shimmying to the other side. When a collectible treasure is nearby, a context-sensitive touchscreen icon will appear on the screen next to the right stick. At other times the context-sensitive icon could indicate an opportunity to interact with the environment. For example, tapping it as a machete icon could start a quick-time event where Drake cuts a path through the jungle as the player swipes on the screen. Given how prominent environmental puzzles have been in past Uncharted games, using the touchscreen could open up whole new possibilities in Golden Abyss.
The Vita's back touch panel will even come into use, as players alternate tapping to simulate Drake climbing hand over hand up a rope or ladder. Conventional controls will still be an option for actions like shimmying, but Bend Studios is trying to get the most out of the Vita's various inputs to make Uncharted a showpiece for the system.
Of course, it wouldn't be a cinematic Uncharted game without an epic story. While most of the specifics are still being held secret, Uncharted: Golden Abyss takes place before the events of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. But Bend Studios has been very careful to say it is a stand-alone game, not a prequel. This means familiar faces like Elena most likely won't pop up, as Drake and Sully meet, collaborate with, and inevitably get betrayed by a whole new cast of characters. Bend Studios has said the game will feature over two hours of cutscenes in total, so it's clear that story will be a large focus in the game. The only question is how well all those cutscenes will translate to a handheld game.
If there is only room for one PlayStation Vita game on your list for February 22, Uncharted: Golden Abyss aims to be the one to beat. It looks to offer the full Uncharted experience on a handheld, with a few tweaks here and there to fully take advantage of Vita's features like tilt control and a touchscreen. And with the promise of a brand new stand-alone story, Golden Abyss could be the just the justification to make Vita worth every penny.
Date: January 16, 2012