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Uncharted: Golden Abyss & NGP Hands-On

We peer into Uncharted's Golden Abyss.

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?

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
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Posted by Jeff

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?

Staff Online
Posted by somethingepic

uncharted is jesus

Posted by MrMuscle

Nice
Posted by brocool

curious how comfortable it is to hold

Posted by Sil3n7

Portable half tuck.

Edited by Slaker117

Neat, I guess. Kind of a bland article, but that's probably because there really isn't that much that can be said.

Online
Posted by rndmtask

Looks pretty damn nice

Posted by Floppypants

Beats Steel Diver.

Posted by Drakeon

Uncharted is the game that's seriously making me consider getting an NGP at launch. I <3 Uncharted soo much.

Posted by PillClinton

Definitely interested.  

Posted by blacklab

Perhaps Sony Bend can redeem themselves with this one.

Edited by buckybit

The code wizards from Naughty Dog sure can deliver a magnificent handheld game, no doubt.*
 
Sony owes game developers a mobile game platform, that allows them to finally make some money on? They need a DRM system that is actually working and finally deliver on what the promised and wanted to do with the first PSP?
 
If game publishers & developers can make a living, we consumers will profit from more and better games too.
 
Uncharted is a great start.
 
[edit] *it's not Naughty Dog but Sony Bend making the game ... as the article says. I made a mistake.

Posted by Pop

I guess there's no point in asking how the framerate is cause Jeff would of probably mentioned if it was bad or not, I looked at some screenshots of the game and they have a pretty decent resolution, I'm excited to try the NGP out at a store or w/e to see how it looks, don't think I'll buy one at release might wait for a price drop, like I did with the PSP, playing god of war on that thing is cool, cause I didn't have the cash to buy a PS3, haha I wonder if the NGP will be same price as a PS3.

Posted by Klaimore

So the screen is going to get really dirty, perfect.

Posted by PLWolf

NGP+Uncharted=Day One Purchase 

Posted by BeAr00X

I hope this thing has an affordable price point. Really want this game!

Posted by kennybaese
@Sil3n7 said:
Portable half tuck.
Fucking SOLD.
Posted by ComradeCrash

Sounds good! Now I just need some video.

Posted by damswedon
@buckybit:erm 

Uncharted: Golden Abyss  is clearly the star of the show.  Sony Bend  is working on this one 

 
Maybe I was just burnt by Sony on the PSP's bad ports of PS2 and 3 games but I really won't care about the Playstation Vita until they show me why it won't just be the same. 
To put in in better terms, Sony needs a Kirby game like Canvas Curse.
Posted by Ventilaator

Uncharted is going to pull a God of War and have portable entries that do nothing else except hitting all the bulletpoints.
 
Get ready for a plot twist that makes some supernatural enemies show up 2/3 of the way through.
 
Or maybe I'm being way too pessimistic about this.

Posted by PieGuy

Wonder what the battery life is like.

Posted by Hector
Really thinking about getting this. The option of letting me play all my PSP digital downloads on it is enticing.
Posted by hagridore

Looks nice. I was so throw by the lack of interest in any handheld during that pre-E3 Bombcast. Maybe its 'cause I'm a child of three, I love having my own little screen. And DS/PSP multiplayer is always great.

Posted by FesteringNeon

Sounds and looks pretty slick.

Posted by keyhunter

I will buy this when homebrew PDF viewers become available.

Posted by Digi7alS3lf

How does the device feels on your hands is my question. 
I still think it's bigger than it should

Posted by buckybit
@damswedon: oops - my bad. I read too quickly over the article. 
 
Now, I am not so much convinced anymore. Agree with your general sentiment.
Posted by Alphazero

I know a girl that has a weird touch sensitive rear panel. 

Posted by TechnoHermit

I'm in!

Posted by TenStoryMother

Any word on whether or not you can hook the NGP,Vita, Expensive Sony Hand Thingy, or whatever it will be called up to your TV to play? 
Posted by Enigma777

I may buy the NGP for this game alone.

Posted by sage2

I wonder if the NGP because its graphical power will sound like a

Posted by ShaneDev

With the amount of tech packed into this thing its probably going to be very expensive.

Posted by sage2
@sage2
I wonder if the NGP because its graphical power will sound like a
Portable vacum cleaner.
Edited by Sanj

The PSP was basically a portable PS2 without the ability to use dual analog sticks, a second set of shoulder buttons and the rumble. Playing games like Dissidia on it just made me really wish I was playing it on a TV.  
 
The NGP, however, seems like it feels less hindering in terms of how you play these games compared to how you'd play them on the PS3, but more importantly, it adds functionality that isn't present in consoles, namely the touch screen/back panel. The back panel seems like it could be a pretty interesting feature and could factor into making gaming on the NGP a uniquely fun experience (if it's implemented well that is)
 
One of the main reasons the DS was so popular was that it had a lot of great games that made good use of the dual/touch screen. So if Sony makes more "portable" games (e.g. patapon) that take advantage of the system's features, as well as make these typically console-type games fun to play in their own right via the same way, then they may be onto something big.

Posted by BD_Mr_Bubbles

Lets hope it turns out as good as it seems to be.
Posted by Tally_Pants

Good call on the Uncharted game Sony... Up until reading this article I was completely ready to dismiss the NGP the same way I did the PSP (I have literally never touched a PSP, of any generation or model) But I do love me some Nathan Drake...

Posted by soanesify
@brocool: That's what she said...  hah
Posted by HydraHam

Already have $500 set aside for it, started putting some money back the day NGP was announced.
 
Hopefully that will cover the system + a few games.

Posted by artofwar420
@Alphazero said:

                I know a girl that has a weird touch sensitive rear panel. 
           


Posted by Snipes424

Sounds great, thanks Jeff

Posted by brocool
@soanesify said:
@brocool: That's what she said...  ha  
haha.. Hey its my coolbro!
Posted by ModernAlkemie

I will ask the same question I ask of any handheld device. How does it handle me dropping it. Because that is going to happen. A lot.

Posted by PKHilson

CHARTED!

Posted by spilledmilkfactory

I'd rather not spend hundreds of dollars on a device that I essentially already have (it's basically a portable ps3, and I'd rather be playing ps3 games on a television,) but Uncharted might make it hard to stick to those guns. I love me some Uncharted. Sigh.

Posted by AURON570

sounds great! and let's not forget Uncharted 3 is also coming out soon too!

Posted by Cazamalos

hey Sony i will buy the PSVita don't worry, just give me more than 2 hours of battery life and we're good

Posted by foxhound421

as one of the seemingly few people who really enjoys their PSP, i'm incredibly excited about this platform and game.  
 
Jeff, i've heard you, and your compatriots, mention a few times that you'd rather be playing these games on a television, but try and keep in mind that not all of us play videogames daily as a part of our careers. i spend a lot of time using my PSP on lunch breaks, while my wife is watching something stupid like Glee, when i'm out of town on a business trip, or other times that i just can't play a full-fledged console game on the tv. so, while i agree that i'd rather be sitting on my couch playing Uncharted 3 on PS3, i'm equally pumped about being able to play a near-console-quality version of Uncharted on the crapper at work.

Posted by NeoTechni

Are the thumbsticks clickable? (L3/R3)

Posted by beeftothetaco

The battery life on this is going to be abysmal. People are going to essentially pay an extra $300-400 for a slightly less powerful PS3 with a small screen and a 10 minute battery life.
 
I think I'll pass.

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