On Uncharted and the Vita!

I have a thing for portable gaming systems and knew I wanted a Vita. Having Uncharted: Golden Abyss at launch and eventually more Sony-friendly franchises and PS1 downloads was plenty for me, but not at full price. I was going to get that Assassin's Creed bundle on Black Friday at Gamestop but then heard about Amazon's crazy Vita bundle, which I got in on. The price alone at $180 was less than I was planning to pay, but then they threw in Playstation All-Stars for free and 3 months of Playstation Plus, which I used to get a free copy of Uncharted immediately.

The Vita as a system is pretty cool. I don't need the various touch controls, just like I don't need the 3D in the 3DS, but they can be fun to mess around with. Love having 2 analog sticks on a portable system, the screen looks great, and once you turn it on it's all rather friendly, like a Nintendo system. PS3 and PSP had this very simple cross media bar thing going on, but the 3DS and Wii (from what I've seen from friends) just seem more alive and welcoming between the music and what you can actually play around with. You can even earn trophies on the Vita's system tutorial, though I'll never get them all: this includes a few timed slide puzzles, and I've always been horrible at those.

It's possible that Near is the biggest feature of the Vita, but I haven't quite figured the whole thing out. I guess it can show me what games are getting played the most near me based on my wifi connection, and there are game goods to be acquired but I haven't gotten anything of note. Uncharted has this Black Market feature that is supposed to let you trade some of the rare collectibles enemies drop with other players through Near, but I haven't received anything yet, nor do I really know how to offer anything up.

I determined recently that Uncharted is my new favorite game series, with a deciding factor being how soon I play new entries. I have games on my shelves from Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Metal Gear that I really want to play but haven't been driven to yet. But then within days of acquiring a Vita I was playing Golden Abyss, as excitedly as I dug into Uncharted 2 and 3 within days of their release. Not that Golden Abyss is as good. I would rank the games in a rather obvious and typical order, saying 2 is the best, then 3, then the original and then Golden Abyss, but it was still a solid 8.5/10 rating for me.

Clearly at system launch they wanted this to be a game you could interact with in as many ways as the Vita would allow. There is a lot of touching and tilting. Some of it is optional, most of it isn't. Swiping a finger across the screen was easy so I never minded that. Balancing on logs was hard for me. The worst example was a document you had to hold your Vita up to light to read. A status bar slowly fills up to 100% but it took me several minutes. You need a really strong light, and it took me a while to realize the ones above my bathroom mirror would work best. I will never be able to play that game (or at least get through that part) on a train or a plane, which is annoying.

It still has everything I love about these games. Combat is great, with grenade usage being different but cool. There are fewer characters but I liked them. Voicework and motion capture was up to par with the other games. The legend being explored wasn't anything to write home about and was confusing at times, but it worked. There's no online multiplayer but that wasn't a big deal for me. Beautiful environments too. And, if you were really into treasure hunting on the other games, there are as many treasures in Golden Abyss as the first three games combined.

I beat the game for the first time last night, and will start it up again soon. Played on Easy since I was expecting it to be hard, which it was in places. But also because with the additional treasures randomly dropped by enemies, and the weapon trophies, additional playthroughs would be needed. Got every environmental treasure at least, and have a trophy percentage of 51%.

Oh hey, I should mention another game. I'm a huge fan of The Walking Dead on AMC and wasn't dealing well with knowing it wouldn't be on Sunday nights anymore for a couple months. After hearing so many great things about the Telltale game, I went ahead and bought it, thinking I could play an episode each Sunday night to help ease my wait. Solid start with Episode 1, looking forward to playing more this weekend.

Happy gaming, JP