It seems that the big show piece for the new Sony Next Generation Portable (we're not calling it a PlayStation Portable 2, see) is a new Uncharted game under development by Sony's Bend Studio (you might remember them from the PSP iterations of Resistance and Syphon Filter) with supervision from Naughty Dog (who are presumably very busy with Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception for the PlayStation 3). Thanks to the NGP's touch screen and rear touch panel, this Uncharted adventure offers an alternate control scheme that allows hero Nathan Drake to be controlled with touch controls. Game Informer's Phil Kollar explains how it all works:
It began with some simple platforming, climbing up some small ledges and over a downed tree. When using the regular game controls, Drake steers exactly like one of the PS3 Uncharted games, jumping, rolling, and shooting in basically the same manner. If you'd rather use touch controls, you can tap or swipe at certain areas on the screen to make Drake move accordingly. For example, tapping a nearby ledge will cause him to automatically climb up, while swiping across a ledge will make him shimmy in the direction that you swiped.
When I reached a vine, Yoshida showed me something that I hadn't noticed during the on-stage presentation: You can swing across the vine by actually physically rocking the PSP back and forth. It was a little difficult to get the motion right, but it's a cool idea.
If any of this motion or touch stuff sounds annoying to you, I have good news. As I had hoped when I saw it shown on stage, these alternate control methods are just that: alternate. If you want to swipe up and down on the rear touch pad to climb up a vine, you can, and it feels unique and kind of cool. But if you'd rather just stick to using the analog sticks and pressing X to pull yourself up a ledge, that works as well. As far as I was able to tell, that's the case for all of the touch and motion functionality in the game, though that could change before it's finished. Here's hoping it doesn't.
Thank goodness Sony isn't going the Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass route and demanding that players adapt their traditional control skills to match the latest control method. Sure, Phantom Hourglass was fun and I eventually found a happy medium with that game's touchscreen maneuvers, but some games just demand a proper control stick and buttons as opposed to aimless swipes. Just because the NGP has plenty of toys built into it that doesn't mean that every NGP game has to use all of them all of the time.