Review: Uncharted: Golden Abyss
After three grand adventures on the PlayStation 3 Nathan Drake is making his portable debut with Uncharted: Golden Abyss on the PlayStation Vita. Set before the original Uncharted we see Drake once again adventuring through a jungle jumping, climbing, and shooting a few hundred people while cracking a joke here and there as he searches for treasures of lost civilizations and maybe keeping the world safe from evil doers along the way.
The first thing that really jumped out at me when I started the game up is how much it really does look like an Uncharted game that I could experience on the PS3 and although it might not be as grand as some of Drakes newer adventures the fact that it’s on a hand held that I can bring with me wherever I go is pretty impressive. The story is well written and the voice work and cut scenes are all up to the standard that the series is known for with a lot of witty banter between the characters.
As far as controls go Golden Abyss plays mostly the same as the PS3 games do and having a second analogue stick to control the camera and aiming works really well once you get used to their shorter length. The major difference is the added Vita feature specific controls using the touch screen and touch pad. Unfortunately a lot of these additions seem to be there just to show off what the Vita can do rather then for captivating game play. For instance while fighting an enemy hand to hand it doesn’t make any sense to have to slide my finger in a certain direction on the touch screen to perform counters and finishers when pressing a button would accomplish the job easier and less disruptively. Same goes for having to tap a virtual button to pick up treasures when the triangle button is sitting not far from it. One new control method that does work rather well though is using the rear touch pad while sniping and taking pictures by sliding your finger up and down the rear touch pad to zoom in and out. It would have been nice for all of the new control methods to be optional though to allow the player to play how they wanted to.
Other uses of the touch screen come into play though small mini games that show up throughout the game that have you doing such things as rubbing the touch screen to do charcoal rubbings, using the touch pad to rotate and inspect an item or using the touch screen to put back together pieces of a torn up map. While these aren’t necessarily bad, they do show up a bit too often.
As in past games Drake can pick up a few collectibles on his journey to the Golden Abyss and these are broken up into three categories; Treasures, Mysteries and Bounties. Treasures are the normal run of the mill items like statues and ornaments that Drake is used to finding on his adventures. Mysteries are items that expand the story and include such things as artifacts, pictures and charcoal rubbings. Bounties are sometimes dropped by enemies when they are defeated and can also be obtained from other players through Near. Each of these collectibles contains descriptions that really show how much detail has been included in the game. All together the game has a whopping 411 different items to collect (with 36 of them being exclusive to Near) to keep any treasure collector busy for a while.
One big disappointment for me though is the lack of extras. Past titles always had unlockable costumes, weapons and effects to make subsequent playthroughs a little more interesting along with behind the scenes features to look into the development process of the game. Since these have been staples of the series its kind of disappointing to see them not included in this title.
While the developers at Bend Studio may have made some questionable design choices, Uncharted: Golden Abyss looks, feels and plays (for the most part) like the series does on the PS3 but with the ability to take it with you on the go. With a good story, decent game play, lots of collectibles to find and trophies to obtain Uncharted: Golden Abyss is a game that is going to keep me busy for a while to come.
A copy of this game was purchased for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
What I Like:
- Impressive graphics
- Insane amount of collectibles
- Great story and witty dialogue
What I Dislike:
- Some of the touch screen implementations
- Lack of extras