There is little wonder why Uncharted: Golden Abyss has become one of the leading PS Vita titles to date.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Unchartered series, the game is an action-adventure, similar to the Tomb Raider series, but this time featuring the rather ruggedly handsome Nathan Drake as the main protaganist.
Unchartered: Golden Abyss takes place before the events of the original Unchartered series, when Drake is hired by his old friend Jason Dante to uncover the secrets of a Central American jungle.
Cue an amazing discovery, a mystery to unravel, and a love interest in the form of archaeologist Marissa Chase, and you have got yourself the beginnings of a great Uncharted narrative.
However, it all starts to unravel rather quickly, with enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes.
The controls take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it the machine’s twin sticks ensure that the game plays like its PS3 relatives, with Drake seamlessly swaggering through firefights and swinging from ledge to ledge.
And the style of the game is largely intact, a steady third-person shooter made remarkable through an unusual investment in character, performance and the production of its motion-captured cut-scenes.
Not that the formula survives the transition entirely unmolested. While Uncharted 3 was characterised by its reliance on spectacular one-off set pieces, Golden Abyss loses them altogether.
This is presumably a technical limitation, as the Vita simply does not have the power a PS3 holds, but the graphics are still mind-blowing and the engaging storyline and regular action scenes only make the game much more enjoyable to play.
The only downside is that it does take a while for the story to get going, but when it does you are in for a cracking final third.
Another unexpected plus point is the use of the Vita’s unique controls, which rather than being clumsily forced on to the game’s mechanics, have instead been carefully tailored to suit the game’s needs.
Touch-screen controls smooth everything from gun-switching to grenade-throwing, while the gyroscopic aiming – tilting the handheld to target enemies – is accurate enough to bag regular headshots, although I much preferred using the LT button to aim and RT to fire.
It is all rather compelling and enjoyable, with just one lingering doubt – that for all its punch, the Uncharted series is the kind of blockbuster experience best enjoyed on a big screen at home.
But despite that, Unchartered: Golden Abyss was clearly made for the PS Vita, and developers should look to Bend Studio’s work if they want to have any chance of creating a successful game for the PS Vita.
Rating: 4/5 stars