014's Uncharted: Golden Abyss (PlayStation Vita) review

You Should Play this Game

I have never played an Uncharted game but have wanted to for a long time. I’m more of a PC gamer, so I just never got around to buying the PS3 games. Uncharted: Golden Abyss is what made my Vita preorder a final decision. I had previously been waiting for the 3DS to come out, but I was disappointed enough after playing with one in the store that I was going to hold off. News of the Vita kept me holding off on the 3DS purchase. To top it off, once I saw the gun play in Uncharted, I was sold on the Vita. I thought, “Man. That looks like it can handle shooters pretty well! The 3DS only has one analog stick.” And that was my decision.

I did not get the early adopter bundle of the Vita, so when some mediocre reviews surfaced for Uncharted and I was still waiting for my system, I got worried. I was convinced it was going to be a B grade game, and that’s where my expectation was. I began to feel somewhat sad that I spent $50 on what would be a mediocre game, but I didn’t let it get to me because I was still excited for the system. Uncharted was the only game I bought with the Vita initially.

I am happy to say I enjoyed playing the game. It felt like I played through a movie where each scene was put together with care and polish, even if sometimes it felt overdramatic or the humor too desperate. I felt like I played a well-crafted game. I recommend every Vita owner to play through it. Since the game was so popular at launch, you can easily find a used copy for well below the $50 retail mark. Get it, beat it, and sell it.

What I have said so far is the heart of my review. Now, I’m going to cover some elements of the game that stood out to me enough to mention.

Gunplay

The gunplay is not too great in this game. It’s not horrible, but comparing to the Unit 13 demo, it could be a lot better. You get used to it and will eventually feel like Terminator running around beating people with your hands, drop kicking them, and turning around to pick up a rotary gun and annihilate them. In those moments I thought, “Whoa. Is this what Uncharted games are like?”

There is a redeeming piece to the gunplay, that is motion control. Maybe some won’t like it or be able to get used to it, but I liked it. I found that using the sticks to get near your target before zooming in and then zooming in and using motion control to get precisely on target worked well. Why this works well is because the crosshair movement is much more controllable with motion control while zoomed in. When you’re not zoomed in, motion control just doesn’t move the crosshairs quick enough.

Climbing

When you look at Drake climbing around, you can’t help but think of the Prince of Persia games. But don’t think it’s that good. Climbing in Uncharted is pretty cool looking, but it doesn’t match the acrobatics of Prince of Persia. Can I put my finger on it? The closest way I can put it is it doesn’t have any challenge. It’s just part of the road to walk toward the end of the game. Don’t get me wrong; it’s neat. It’s just not neat enough to be the entire game. Thankfully, there’s more to the game than just this aspect.

I preferred to almost never slide my finger on the screen to direct Drake to climb. I tried it a few times and then watched him climb, following the route I painted. It was boring. Sitting there, doing nothing but watching him climb was boring. That’s what I thought.

Touch Sequences

Overall, the touch sequences are overdone in Uncharted. Alright, I’m finally in the section where I can spit out my biggest annoyance in the game: when Drake has to balance on beams! I feel this task of using the Vita motion control to balance Drake from falling off logs could have been comfortably used about two times in the whole game. The problem is it’s used 85% of the time you cross a log. Every time it happens, you say to yourself, “Are you serious!” It’s not fun at that point. Games are supposed to be fun.

When you fight hand to hand with enemies, there is always some screen sliding to do with your finger. In my opinion, it should have been mixed up so it was only some of the fights it happened, or you only had to do one sliding touch per fight. I got the most enjoyment out of just simply timing Drake’s throws with the square button.

The rest of the touch controls in the game fit OK. Rope climbing and paddling a boat fit well with rear touch. The moments where you hoist someone up a ledge or slam your shoulder into a wall are alright. Rubbing dirt off a treasure or map is neat. Holding the back of the Vita up to a strong light source in order to reveal something in the game was really neat! But I felt like a moron doing it in public.

Summary

Now that you’ve read my critiques on certain gameplay elements, don’t forget my overall rating and the beginning of my review! I can’t say with confidence the game looks as good as a PS3 game, but I can honestly say it felt like I was using a handheld PS3. You should play this game.

All screenshots were taken from my own Vita during gameplay.

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Other reviews for Uncharted: Golden Abyss (PlayStation Vita)

    A Treasure In The Rough 0

    After the announcement that Sony Bend was working on Golden Abyss in Naughty Dog's stead, my expectations for the game dropped harshly. It would be near impossible, I thought, for a third-party studio to capture the charm and the excitement that made the console entries such a pleasure to play. It didn't help that the game sported gimmicky-looking touch controls and played with a B-cast of unknown characters. I was pleasantly surprised, then, when I ended up not just enjoying Golden Abyss, but a...

    4 out of 4 found this review helpful.

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