It's an Uncharted game, running on a handheld. That's impressive enough in itself, but to understand the implications of that simple statement you've got to appreciate what Naughty Dog has crafted - a series of light-hearted adventures based around solid third-person mechanics, all wrapped up in Hollywood production values and framed within this generation's most sumptuous backdrops.
Sony Bend has studied that formula closer than anyone else. That's because the Oregon-based team has taken on development duties for Uncharted: Golden Abyss. It's a new chapter for Nathan Drake and a game that's fast become the poster boy for the NGP.
Having previously delivered PSP title Resistance Retribution, Sony Bend is in danger of becoming Sony's in-house cover band - but at least it's proven itself to be a safe pair of hands. For Golden Abyss, the studio has mimicked Naughty Dog's own formula while at the same time exploring some of the new possibilities offered by the NGP.
This spin-off's imitation of Uncharted's trademark visuals is its most stunning trick. Uncharted is a series renowned for its looks and here, on that rich 5-inch OLED screen, they're remarkably intact. Some simple numbers underline that fact: Resistance Retribution pushed some 50,000 polygons per frame, whereas Golden Abyss is throwing around 260,000.
Impressive figures, but what really counts for many is how close the game flies to the PS3 originals. Bar the occasional flat texture, it's every bit as attractive as Drake's Fortune (though understandably it can't quite scale the incredible heights of Among Thieves). Real-time dynamic lighting and advanced shaders bring some current-gen flair, and the environments are every bit as glorious as those featured in the console versions.
Drake himself looks equally dashing, especially once he's been plunged into water. He emerges soaking, his damp clothes slowly drying out over time as he leaves soggy footprints in his wake. It's a trick we've seen before, but it's much more impressive when it's playing out in the palm of your hand.
There's more to Drake than wet t-shirts, and the biggest challenge Sony Bend faces is pinning down the breezy charm he personifies. Sony Bend's John Garvin is on writing duties under the watchful eye of Amy Hennig, the creative director whose deft touch has been behind Nathan Drake's other adventures.
Golden Abyss's story is the same matinee fare that's been such an effective springboard for past Uncharted games. Set prior to Drake's Fortune, the game sees our hero on the trail of an expedition lost some 400 years ago. Unsurprisingly there's a mythical lost city to discover along the way.
Brief cut-scenes (of which there will eventually be two hours' worth) show that Drake's rapier wit is intact. It's exercised against a new cast of characters, with Jason Dante fulfilling Sully's role while Marisa Chase appears as the inevitable love interest. The quick-fire, Hawks-esque dialogue is all present and correct, thanks in no small part to the use of Naughty Dog's own motion capture facility and the return of Nolan North.
For the exploration and third-person shooting at the heart of Uncharted, Sony Bend hasn't altered the essentials - but its interpretation is often surprising. The NGP's dual sticks can keep up with the cover-based gunplay well enough, and the duck and run segments are as tight as those in the PS3 games.
The exploration and scaling of the environment is likewise largely untouched. It never ceases to amaze how many walls crumble at Drake's touch, leaving him dangling in a pre-canned animation. But there's a creep of the NGP's new and varied control methods that's sometimes welcome, sometimes less so.
For the stealth sections dotted throughout the demo they're a neat fit, with a tap of an enemy on the touch-screen triggering a takedown from behind cover. Scrambling across ledges and swinging across poles are also activities simplified by the touch-screen; all it takes is a swipe in the desired direction for Drake to traverse the environment.
At other points, Sony Bend's eagerness to play with each and every toy within the NGP's box of tricks can make for some counter-intuitive and sometimes downright ugly play.
Sections utilising the Sixaxis are the worst offenders, whether that's when balancing Drake as he traverses across a thin platform or, late in the demo, when they're used to control a rifle during a particularly awkward sniper scene. Motion controls can work well when sitting on a sofa, but there's surely little room for them in the more discreet world of portable gaming.
Such problems are an understandable by-product of Sony Bend's enthusiasm for the new hardware. It's commendable that the studio is so eager to experiment with all of the strange new features at its disposal. Any early missteps shouldn't detract from its achievement; this is authentic Uncharted on a handheld, and that's an impressive feat.