Uncharted: Golden Abyss’ status as a prequel seems somehow less interesting in the wake of Uncharted 3. Sure, we’re seeing another of Nate’s adventures and that’s all well and good, but with Uncharted 3 covering a lot of the background between Sully and Drake the idea of something set before Drake’s Fortune is less instantly intriguing.
On the other hand I’m sure many will be more than happy to get to grips with another of Drake’s adventures, even if the game doesn’t come directly from Naughty Dog. That’s right, the wizards of Santa Monica aren’t directly responsible for the Vita title’s development but don’t let that put you off; they are overseeing the team over at SCE’s Bend Studio. Bend have a good pedigree of working on portable games, having spent a lot of time with the Syphon Filter series and its PSP titles as well as Resistance: Retribution, the first portable game in the series.
If you haven’t heard much about Golden Abyss before, it’s worth noting that Bend haven’t just shoe-horned a scaled back version of the series on the portable console. In fact it’s fairly safe to say that this latest Uncharted easily competes with its PS3 based siblings. Nothing’s been trimmed to get the game working on the Vita, it sits at around the ten hour mark and back in June Blair remarked that it had the graphical sheen that has come to be expected from the PS3 entries in the series.
In fact, not only has nothing been cut back to get it to fit onto the Vita, but features have been added to take account of what the hardware has to offer. This centers largely around the machine’s touch capabilities, although motion controls have been refined and revamped. With the touch screen you can control Drake’s climbing, although the normal analogue based controls remain. The back touch pad also gets some love, being used for controlling the sniper rifle’s zoom amongst other things.
What Bend and Naughty Dog have been keen to stress about the touch controls is that they’re an extra, something to make use of the Vita’s capabilities. Whether you want to use these new controls is entirely up to you, if you feel more comfortable with playing the game as if you were holding a DualShock 3 then you’re free to play that way. There’s a number of Vita games that have taken this approach to touch controls and it’s refreshing to not have the functionality shoved down our collective throat.
Of course the game is out in Japan now, having launched alongside the console. There’s a trickle of English language coverage coming from those who have taken the plunge and imported a copy, along the with a Vita to play it on. Initial reports are positive, and it seems likely that Golden Abyss will be elevated to “must buy” status for those picking up Sony’s new portable.