E3 2011: Uncharted: Golden Abyss Hands-On Preview - Touching and Tilting in Combat

We take another spin through Sony's portable adaptation of the Uncharted franchise and focus on the game's newfangled NGP controls.

When you think about the Sony franchises best suited for making the transition to the new NGP handheld, Uncharted might not be the first one that comes to mind. With its stunning visuals and movie-quality cutscenes, Uncharted seems like it would lose everything that makes it special if distilled into a portable game. And yet, that's not the case with the upcoming NGP version. Crazy as it sounds, Uncharted on the NGP simply looks like a PlayStation 3 game--perhaps a bit closer to the 2007 original than its stunning 2009 sequel, but a PS3 game nonetheless. Developing a game that looks this good on portable hardware is an impressive feat. But in order to really sell the system, Sony knows that it's going to have to convince people that the NGP's myriad control inputs--with all its touch and motion capabilities--can add something to the Uncharted experience as well.

Our first look at Uncharted on the NGP was focused primarily on the platforming and exploration half of the game, while our latest look was a good deal more combat-oriented. This new level was a nighttime stealth mission set in the ancient ruins of a lush jungle. Right off the bat you're introduced to a new means of controlling the game using the NGP's fully touch-sensitive screen. Sneaking up behind a guard overlooking a steep cliff, we had the option to dispatch this poor soul using the standard face buttons or by simply tapping the context-sensitive melee button that appears on the screen when you get close enough. It's a button that, thankfully, is placed along the far right edge of the screen so you can move your thumb over a smidge to reach it rather than having to set the (surprisingly large) NGP hardware down and use an index finger. And with that melee takedown button pressed, it was a long, hard fall down the cliff for that poor guard and on to the next batch of enemies for us.

Taking a stealth approach is surprisingly easy with the NGP controls thanks to the system's traditional analog sticks. Unlike with the consistently awkward PSP analog nub, it's easier to give the NGP analog stick a more gradual tilt in order to slowly creep up on a foe before taking him down. And once you're engaged in a shoot-out, having that second analog stick over to the right helps the game feel like its PS3 siblings with full freedom of aiming. The gun combat--for the most part--feels as it should. Things like handguns, AK-47s, and shotguns all feel and sound like they did in previous Uncharted games, while the enemies are more akin to the mortal enemies found in Uncharted 2 rather than the headshot-resistant cyborg pirates found in the original Uncharted.

The big difference comes with certain specialized weapons that have been given entirely different controls designed around the NGP's new hardware. The poster child for this is the sniper rifle. When you look down the scope of the sniper rifle, you then need to aim by physically moving the system around you as though it were a camera and you're trying to get the best angle on a subject. The gyroscope does a pretty good job of picking up subtle movements, though we did experience some unwanted camera drag from the natural shaking of our hands. You can also zoom in on the sniper rifle using the touch panel on the back of the system, pinching and pulling as if you were zooming in and out of a map on an iPhone. We really like the concept behind these sniper controls, but in practice they need to be fine-tuned a bit before you're really going to warm up to them. It felt a little bit awkward and imprecise in this early demo of the game.

Another use of the touch screen in combat comes with the way you throw grenades. In the heat of battle, you'll find a grenade icon on the side of the screen that can be used in two ways. Tap the button, and Drake will lob a grenade in the general direction of his enemies. But hold the button, and you can then drag your finger to the precise location where an enemy is hiding on your screen, complete with an arc showing you the new path of your grenade throw. We actually liked this system for aiming grenades. It's much more precise than tilting the Sixaxis to adjust the arc of a grenade throw on the PS3, and it really lets you get at those guys hiding in pesky spots behind cover. There is that sort of built-in conflict between trying to hunt out an enemy in hiding while your big dumb finger is obscuring part of the screen, but so long as you take a good look at the screen before you start dragging, you're OK.

We could go on about how the touch screen is used in other ways, such as climbing and leaping and whatnot, but that's all territory we covered in our first look at Uncharted NGP a few months ago. Be sure to go back and read those initial impressions if you haven't already, and we'll be sure to update you again once we see more of this new entry in the Uncharted franchise.

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Discussion

71 comments
nicholaslo
nicholaslo

Top the charts for vita. If you buy the vita you must buy this one.

madinime
madinime

first game to get for ps vita, lol

Shubhankar1321
Shubhankar1321

I really want to hear God of War news for PS Vita.

VilandasUK
VilandasUK

I hope that this game will be playable on psp, because this is such an amazing game :cry: and I can't afford an NGP at the moment which is sad :cry:

ShadowofSonic
ShadowofSonic

Well in the 3DS's case,a little after launch.

ShadowofSonic
ShadowofSonic

It needs 'big-name' launch titles like the 3DS has.

yixingtpot
yixingtpot

I hope this makes launch title status for real, i plan on getting this and HotShotsGolf, plus at least a 16GB new flash card. I'm very curious to see just how sensitive the analog sticks are, it will be amazing if it equals the feel of the DS3.

Walker42
Walker42

The graphics are awesome for a handheld, Especially the environments they're gorgeous! But Drake just doesn't look right, He's taller for one thing......

Trenchman
Trenchman

My main concern with this, and any high end portable, is the production costs for games. I don't want to pay console price for handheld games, I just don't.

Franzkill
Franzkill

This will be a day 1 purchase for sure! @Coolyfett referring to yourself in the third person makes you sound very random..

Coolyfett
Coolyfett

Infamous, God of War, Lil Big Planet, Mod Nation Racers, Wipeout, bring out all the Sony heavy hitters for this system!!!

Coolyfett
Coolyfett

Coolyfett has never played an Uncharted game, he will be buying this the first day that it comes out. The Vita needs more games to be announced though.

SANDMAN201
SANDMAN201

Okay, now I am totally convinced that I want this.

racing1750
racing1750

Looks good for a portable game :)

shandyconstant
shandyconstant

it's incredable....NGP is more than PS3 or Wii............ its....just great handheld.... :D

chyng85
chyng85

I would like to see him naked....

slayersdeath200
slayersdeath200

I can see myself being broke the year this comes out.... it will be worth it

BoogieL0ve
BoogieL0ve

I am a firm believer in the role Sony has played in the handheld market... the only thing I'm not feeling is the back sensors.... it just looks so foolish.... But, other than that, the NGP is gonna be a force to be recokened with...

bobochan91
bobochan91

mini ps3 dammit, i need this NGP! please come out fast!! haha

fend_oblivion
fend_oblivion

Holy crap, this game looks amazing! :O Kudos to Sony Bend for doing a great job so far :D

devrindare
devrindare

if the NGP have the same thing then their is no need to buy PS3, go directly buy a NGP

dinslacck
dinslacck

Uncharted is one of the launch games for NGP, which does not maximize the NGP hardware capability.. yet the graphics already this awesome.. wow.

andrei_10
andrei_10

wow,no matter what nintendo does, sony will always kick their asses :D

alext_b
alext_b

I'm looking forward to this. I don't like handhelds but Sony just might make me change my mind.

Leonhartsama
Leonhartsama

I think I'll pass 3DS, and buy NGP... I Hope...

the_requiem
the_requiem

Finally a handheld that is worth buying. Just waiting to see what Kojima comes up with, ability to carry on with my PS3 games when on move... priceless.

Neophyte555
Neophyte555

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

alanthreonus
alanthreonus

Nintendo's going to have to come out with some really awesome 3DS games if they want to compete with this.

tryagainlater
tryagainlater

This game will probably convince me to buy an NGP.

aaaaaa12
aaaaaa12

it looks really nice!! hope we don't have to wait too long to play the game =)

daniel_chacon
daniel_chacon

yyyyyyeeeeeaaaaaaaaahhhhh!!! ngp will rock with awesome games unlike the 3ds which sucks!!!!!

Albino494
Albino494

i dont care what i have to sell to come up with the money for this, im getting an ngp dammit!

crunchb3rry
crunchb3rry

Wish Sony would pony up the cash to get Drake some better clothes.

Franzkill
Franzkill

@Sony heed my words. Give this thing PS2 emulation support alone and this will beat 3DS to the ground for years to come. Oh god playing FFX on the train just sounds like bliss! :)

metalkid9
metalkid9

Sony is gonna own this year and next year once again!

Cartr1dgeBased
Cartr1dgeBased

games have come very far the past 25 years. but the growth of handhelds as evidenced by the NGP (PS Vita?) is truly astonishing. im sure people will figure out what to do with the 3DS eventually and start producing some great games (everyone I know pretty much demoed the 3d aspects and went back to playing DS games). but it seems sony has really knocked it out of the park. i dont know if that will translate to sales or not, but I for one am eagerly anticipating the release of this piece of hardware/

OmegaGear
OmegaGear

@Poncho_Hachacha Kinda hard to tell with the system and camera being moved around so much, but it does look a bit jerky at times. Particularly, when going from one action to another, things don't appear too fluid, but again, hard to tell, given the way the video was done. Hopefully E3 will give us some direct feeds.

bluedarrk
bluedarrk

this is why I have a ps3 great exclusives

Poncho_Hachacha
Poncho_Hachacha

Graphics look great, the controls will hopefully require as few touch and movement controls as possible. Is it just me or does Drake's movements look kinda funky or uncoordinated in this one.

ElFlechero
ElFlechero

I like that they are applying the tilt controls to the scoped in sniping, while you have to worry about shaking hands, that's what you'd have to worry about if you were actually shooting a sniper rifle as well. Though we're all used to snipers in games being easy to use, aiming at something that far away should be a little "awkward and imprecise."

Shadow4020
Shadow4020

I don't have the money for the NGP, but I want this game so bad!

Coolyfett
Coolyfett

This game is way better than Kid Icarus 3D!!!

Coolyfett
Coolyfett

I must have this game!!!!! OMG it looks really fun to play!!