With all of these unconfirmed "PlayStation Vita" reports swirling around, I'm not even sure what to call this thing. I mean, that's probably going to be the name, right? But let's just play it safe for now, because back when I actually played with an NGP and around nine different games, we were all still calling it the NGP.
It's an interesting device that straight-up looks expensive. Like the PSP before it, it's got a stunning screen on it, and it's capable of some pretty fantastic-looking graphics. The controls feel like the way you'd expect a PlayStation product to feel, with a nice D-pad and a couple of analog sticks. Of course, it's also ready for touching and tilting, with Sixaxis-style motion sensing, a touch-ready screen, and weird touch-sensitive rear panel. About the only thing that keeps it from totally matching the current PlayStation controller is that it only has one set of shoulder buttons, something that some games mitigate by placing virtual buttons on the sides of the touch screen, where it's easy for your thumb to reach out and tap them. It's seems like a solid platform.
It also looks like Sony's readying a good and varied collection of software for the NGP, covering a few standards, some new games from franchises you already care about, and some left-field stuff, as well. Though it didn't do much to sway me from the thought that I'd rather be playing all this stuff on a television, the NGP is pretty cool.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss is clearly the star of the show. Sony Bend is working on this one, and their presentation tossed out a few numbers, like their ability to put 160MB of textures on screen or the notion that Drake has 3,000 separate animations. That aside, the game looked good--not quite console-quality, if you were to hold it up against Uncharted 2, but close enough that it practically doesn't matter. The game appears to be a standalone adventure set before the first game, but that doesn't mean that it's a prequel that's designed to lead into the core series.
The game controls roughly like you'd expect, but it brings in a lot of the NGP's additional controls as mostly optional additions. When you get into a scrap with an enemy, you can go into a touch melee mode, allowing you to tap enemies to attack or fight by tapping icons that appear on-screen. Climbing can be done by touching the next ledge in a sequence to hop there, or you can just swipe up along a series of ledges and Drake will quickly make his way to your end point. This initially seemed like some kind of awful auto-pilot, but after thinking about it a bit, I realized that those Uncharted climbing sequences are always completely obvious and never difficult, which calmed me down right away. The ledges quickly flash as you swipe over them, giving you a visual indicator to let you know that you're getting ready to move. Tilt controls also come into play when climbing, as you can lean the NGP away from surfaces to get Drake ready for a jump from one wall to another.
Other NGP-specific controls include the ability to tap enemies while hanging from a ledge to grab and yank them over. There's also a sniper sequence in the demo we were shown that lets you tilt the device to aim. It's worth noting that this stuff is optional, for the most part. If you want Golden Abyss to play like a regular Uncharted game, it will.
Oh, and yes. Nolan North will return to voice Drake. I probably should have started with that, huh?