Uncharted: Golden Abyss Leaps onto PlayStation Vita - Hand-on

By Ryan Winslett in Previews/Impressions
Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 9:00 am
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Drake uncovers new mysteries on the PSV
If any line on the E3 show floor came close to competing with Nintendo's Wii U console, it was the three-hour behemoth you had to sit through in order to get your hands on PlayStation's new handheld, the Vita.

 

Thankfully, my appointment with the folks at Sony meant I got to bypass all of that nonsense. I was walked straight up to a podium sporting the shiny new console with a copy of Uncharted: Golden Abyss ready for me to tackle.

 

Find out why Drake's portable adventure looks to showcase the Vita's potential after the break.

 

The first thing I had to get used to in my time with Golden Abyss was that lovely second analog stick. Being a fan of the original PSP, I let my right thumb sit off to the side of the console rather than rest on the stick. When I started running around, my first thought was how bad the game's camera was. Needless to say, I felt like a complete idiot when I remembered the camera was now mine to control rather than relying on a "smart camera" like most PSP action titles. Once I got that in my head, it was smooth sailing from there.

 

The beauty of Golden Abyss is that none of the Vita's fancy new tricks are forced upon the player. If you want to play a portable Uncharted game with basically the same controls you're used to on its console siblings, you can absolutely do that.


I was there to get the full Vita experience, though, so I was all about touching that screen every chance I got. (Just a quick mention that, no matter how many times I put my grimy mitts on the front screen, not once did I see a smudge pop up. Conclusion: Alien technology.)

 

After getting my bearings, the first thing I did was start climbing a nearby wall. You can touch individual blocks to move about or, if you see a line of bricks, you can "paint" them with your finger to make Drake shimmy across them with a quickness. When jumping, you can lean the console in the direction you want to leap rather than use the analog stick, too.

 

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When I reached a ledge with a guard standing nearby, all I had to do was touch the guy on the screen to make Drake pull him to an unfortunate demise thousands of feet below.

While most of the shooting mechanics are the same, you pick up a new weapon by tapping it when the appropriate icon pops up on the bottom of the screen. You can also reload your current weapons by tapping its icon on the HUD. The touchscreen mechanics for grenades were also a lot of fun. To chuck an explosive with pinpoint accuracy, simply find some cover, touch the grenade icon, then drag your finger to exactly where you want it to go on the screen. This works wonderfully.


Sniping, too, has received a Vita facelift. Once you look into the scope, you enter a sort of altered reality that turns the handhold into a magic window. Wherever you look in the real world is where the scope will aim. To zoom, simply slide two fingers closer together across the back touch panel. It took a second to get used to, but once I figured it out I was pulling off head shots with ease.

 

I feel it's important to reiterate that these Vita controls were absolutely optional. Whether you want to stick to the sticks and button or tap the screen from time to time, or even a combination of the two, the choice is yours.

 

We already knew Golden Abyss looked amazing, and now I can confidently say the controls are just as impressive. It's hard to believe until you experience it for yourself, but the Vita's Uncharted game really does feel like having a PlayStation 3 title in the palm of your hands.

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