Uncharted: Golden Abyss Features

Digital FoundryTech Analysis: Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Where no handheld has gone before.

Given the task of translating the much-beloved Uncharted franchise to Sony's shiny new portable, Bend Studio - best known for the Syphon Filter games on PSP - has taken on a huge weight of responsibility from the original series creators at Naughty Dog. By entrusting the team with the engine that drives the three console games, alongside a degree of freedom over the back-story of its leading characters, Uncharted: Golden Abyss sets out to be a fully-fledged adventure that is both essential to fans of the series, as well as early Vita adopters looking to showcase their handheld's graphical prowess.

FeatureClever Game Pricing, Not Just Games, Is Key to Vita's Success

The last piece to the Vita puzzle is perhaps the most important.

Sony's cards are on the table at last. All six of them, in fact, as part of the WAAR (wide area augmented reality) feature Vita developers have been banging on about recently, with the console able to register up to six cards at once to create fancy AR experiences on the fly.

Vita Launch Line-up

FeatureVita Launch Line-up

The best - and more interesting - of Sony's day one releases.

Nintendo may have done its best to spoil Sony's party by announcing that Monster Hunter would be coming to the 3DS, but the air of celebration continues around the Vita. 31 games for the handheld made an appearance at the Tokyo Game Show, and - Monster Hunter aside - it was the biggest pull of the event.

With no firm word of a release date outside of Japan and no region locking for the console's software, there is of course a huge temptation to import Sony's Vita when it comes out in the East on 17th December. 26 games launching alongside the handheld ensure that, unlike this year's 3DS launch, there will be a wealth of options when it comes to picking up games.

Sony's first-party games provide the obvious highlights - and Uncharted: Golden Abyss is as close to an essential purchase as there is for the Vita, both a technical marvel that's perfect for showcasing the console's power as well as an extension of one of this generation's best-loved series.

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Uncharted: Golden Abyss Preview

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.

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FeatureNGP Hands On

So does it do everything?

So much for pocket gaming. The first thing that strikes you about Sony's NGP (a name whose days are numbered, with a sexier and more practical alternative likely to be unveiled at E3) is its size. Larger by some measure than its competition, the NGP's closest comparison in handheld history is Atari's Lynx.

FeatureBeing Nathan Drake

Nolan North’s life in games.

There can't be many lead actors and writers in the games industry who know each other so well they practically finish each other's sentences. But then, how many can say they've been working together on their latest project almost every week since last June, let alone for large, intensive chunks of the past five years?