Preview: Is Uncharted: Golden Abyss the Vita’s killer launch title?

August 10, 2011

The Uncharted series may very well be the flagship franchise on the PlayStation 3, but it has been conspicuously absent from the handheld lineup of first-party games. Bend Studios is bucking that trend, bringing Uncharted: Golden Abyss to the launch of upcoming PlayStation Vita.

Golden Abyss is a prequel to the Uncharted series, covering one of Nathan Drake’s first adventures in treasure-hunting. At the outset, he is far from the confident and brash adventurer we all know him to become. He’s hesitant and unsure of himself, which is why his mentor is along to give him pointers and mold him into our favorite Indiana Jones look-alike.

As a Vita title, Golden Abyss does feature both motion and touch screen controls, though these are all optional. In fact, all the control schemes are active at all times, so you can switch between them on the fly, whenever you want to. One climbing segment you can use buttons, and the next switch to ‘ledge-painting’, where you slide your finger over the ledges you want Nathan to climb, and he’ll jump to them in the order you touched them. All the controls felt very familiar, even the touch controls, oddly enough. Surprisingly, we found that our view of the screen wasn’t unduly blocked when touching it. This, and the fact that they are not required, lead us to heartily approve of the implementation.

The graphics, even in this early build, rival that of Drake’s Fortune. We knew the Vita was impressive technology, but never expected a first-generation title on it to look as good as this does.

There hasn’t been any official mention of a release date for it, but the developers we spoke to are hoping to have it ready in time for the early-2012 launch date.