Uncharted: Golden Abyss preview

Playing around in the quickly incinerating environment also gives us a chance to test out the game’s touchscreen controls. A simple finger swipe in the direction you want Drake to jump will see the treasure hunter hurtle between ledges. Of course, if the idea of touching Vita’s gorgeous OLED screen with your greased-smothered digits sounds appealing like roasting your trouser giblets over a spit, x will also let Nate leap between platforms.

Sadly, a section where you have to shish kebab a tarp that’s blocking his escape from the burning building is less refined than the fairly seamless touchscreen platforming. Following onscreen prompts with your finger will see Nate break out a machete and go medieval on the piece of felt’s non-existent arse. But the delay in the animation from your swipes creates a strange disconnect.

Still, as strong first impressions go Golden Abyss’ Backdraft-aping level might as well be shoving £100 notes in our pocket while giving us a backrub. Working as a prolonged setpiece, it shows the sort of clever pacing that makes Naughty Dog’s Uncharted titles so incredible.

The second level sees our antique-nicker tasked with protecting new leading lady Marisa Chase. Sshh, he ain’t cheating on the lovely Elena, honest. After all, the events in Abyss take place before the original Drake’s Fortune. And by ‘protecting’, we should say offing South American evil doers with a ruddy big sniper rifle.

Keen to embrace all of the Vita’s unique interfaces, SCE Bend gives you the option of aiming the rifle by tilting the handheld to line up shots, courtesy of the system’s gyroscope. It’s a feature that works surprisingly well and we actually find ourselves ditching the traditional stick controls in this section for the tilty headshot goodness.

The demo ends with Nate blowing up a bridge (which just happens to house enemy trucks stuffed with explosives) into the general vicinity of Timbuktu. And like the dirtiest of teases, leaves us hanging until the game launches with Vita on 22 February.

From our time with this portable Uncharted, we’re confident SCE Bend can craft an adventure worthy of the incredible legacy Naughty Dog has built on PS3. Phew, 600 words down and we didn’t once revert to a ‘holy crap’. Well done us.