Uncharted: Golden Abyss Review
Genre: Action, Adventure, Third Person Shooter
What we liked
What we didn't
Nathan Drake returns for another adventure but this time with touch screen abilities!
The Uncharted series has become Sony’s number one franchise having sold millions of copies world wide on each title that has so far been released on the Playstation 3. And it came as no surprise when Sony announced the series first portable title for the Playstation Vita when it launched. I had to wonder about how well the game would transition from the Playstation 3 to a handheld system. I can now safely assure you on is this, you will not be disappointed.
The story for Uncharted: Golden Abyss is like all Uncharted games; Nathan Drake is on a trip to find some lost city and its legendary missing treasure, except this game is set at some time before the events of Drake’s Fortune.Drake must uncover the dark secret of a lost Spanish expedition massacred 400 years ago deep in Central America. Nathan is out exploring ruins and jungles as well as finding himself caught in the middle of a bitter rivalry between old friend Jason Dante, and Marissa Chase a young archaeologist who is looking to change history as well as finding her missing grandfather who has mysteriously vanished without a trace. Along the way they encounter revolutionary leader General Roberto Guerro who is after the treasure as well.
That is the story in a nutshell. It is by all means a pretty standard Uncharted adventure which follows the same principles as all the other games. However, whilst you play the game it feels remarkably fresh. The game takes the story and adds what the first and second game had; a sense of discovery, and on top of that the game involves Aztecs and Inca history which is related to Drake’s Fortune.
On with the actual look of the game. Well you have to take it into the account that this is an Uncharted game being played on a handheld device, so all those spectacular visuals that you got to see in all three of the other Uncharted games you expect to see the equivalent in a game with the same title. What I can assure you is that Bend Studios hasn’t let you down and has transported the awe inspiring visuals of the Uncharted series onto the Playstation Vita with such skill that it certainly shines through. Sometimes you may find some of the textures kind of bland and flat face, but that is only if you seriously concentrate on what you are looking at. Since most players won’t be studying the detail it really won’t matter as the player’s attention should be focused on the action graphics. For a handheld platform to produce these visuals is certainly something to admire and respect. However if the environments don’t convince you the character models and animation are second to none, especially when compared to the Playstation 3 titles. This may be because the games used motion capture technology which is exactly what the other Uncharted titles use, so the character movements are fluid and realistic. The actual character models really shine in the game. You could literally pluck them out of this game and place them in any of the other titles easily and this is all thanks to the development behind the game.
Lastly is the actually playability to the game. Firstly, let me just say in briefest way possible, if you have played an Uncharted game before you will find all the controls exactly the same. What the game brings is the use of all of the Playstation Vita’s new built in gadgets. Seeing as though this is Playstation Vita’s pinnacle launch title, you will find yourself using the in-built cameras, the gyroscope, and the front touch screen and the rear touch screen. In some ways these added features work really well to add to the dynamics of the game. For example the neat concept of looking at a relic and turning it over with the rear touch pad whilst cleaning it using the front touch screen. Or the fact that you need to look up at a bright light in your actual environment when trying to make something out on a piece of paper, this little piece of gimmickry involves the cameras. It is very fun getting to use a machete to cut down vines or blankets to retrieve collectibles or using the touch pads in close combat fights.
The game features a nifty new way to collect collectibles with the use of a hand held camera. At certain points in the game you will find yourself prompted to take a picture of some scenery or something vital to what you are trying to collect like a statue of a deity or enemies weapon stash, which you achieve by zooming in or out on the object to the zoom spec (e.g. 4.4 or 5.8) this is done using either of the touch pads.The developers have been very busy utilising the new technology to apply the new abilities of the handheld console.
However the game does have its flaws but these are the same flaws found in every Uncharted game! The first is that the game features near enough two characters in every part of the game, but once again the game has never exploited the chance for two player co-op which is such a shame. Then there is the games AI. Just like the console versions of Uncharted The Golden Abyss suffers from bad AI. The enemies’ movements become predictable so combat becomes a drag, then friendly characters love to sometimes run in front of you causing you to shoot them. The game does also have fluctuating levels of difficulty where you can find yourself being like the Terminator and mowing enemies down one moment, but when you go up against two guys who just don’t seem to die ends you wonder what has changed. And lastly, some of the camera angles at points are terrible, especially when you have the game’s escape or run away sequences. When you are running from A to B and the camera makes jumps, avoiding enemy gun fire becomes highly difficult.
All in all Uncharted: Golden Abyss is a fantastic addition to the Uncharted franchise, in fact I would go as far to say that it is the second best game in the series, second only to Among Thieves. The story is told in classic Uncharted style that refreshes the games series. The game play is still as solid as it has ever been with the series. The characters are easy to relate to and likable so you want to see their story progress.
The Playstation Vita is the perfect place to bring the cinematic world of Uncharted to the portable gaming world.
If you are thinking about getting a Playstation Vita, this is the game to get first.