As with Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories on the PSP, Uncharted: Golden Abyss is the PlayStation Vita’s siren call to gamers: an offering that makes home quality-gaming portable. Indeed, there’s little separate Golden Abyss from its PS3 brethren.
Acrobatic treasure hunter Nathan Drake is once again on the trail of an ancient secret – and there’s an army or two in his way. Uncharted's mix of climbing, cover-based shootouts and simple puzzles is as compelling on the Vita as it is on the PS3 and very little of the series' cinematic sheen has been lost in its translation to the small screen.
But Uncharted: Golden Abyss is more than a Mini-Me: it’s also a brilliant showcase for the Vita’s multitude of controls.
The Vita's dual sticks and buttons do much of the work but the front touchscreen is equally important, handling hand-to-hand combat, puzzles and actions such as canoeing. The front screen also offers alternative controls, such as directing Drake’s climbing by tracing a path with your finger rather than pressing buttons.
The gyroscope and accelerometer also get their fair share of action, not least for turning the Vita into a make-believe camera so you can take photos to complete challenges. The back touch pad gets used for manipulating objects Drake finds and even the in-built camera gets put to surprising use. This control extravaganza could have made Golden Abyss gimmicky but it rarely feels that way.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss also features more exploration than its console peers. It’s no open world but there’s plenty of treasure hidden in the nooks and crannies of each chapter, providing a good incentive for return visits to complete your stash of trinkets.
It might not offer multiplayer or include any individual moments that quite match the home Uncharted games at their most spectacular, but as a standalone chapter in the treasurehunting series it's hugely compelling, and as a demonstration of the Vita's abilities it's nothing short of emphatic.