Uncharted: Golden Abyss

    Game » consists of 4 releases. Released Dec 17, 2011

    Nathan Drake pursues the legend of the Seven Cities of Gold in this PlayStation Vita exclusive prequel to Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.

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

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    The Hits and Misses: Uncharted Golden Abyss

    Easily the worst title in the series, Uncharted Golden Abyss still manages to be a technical marvel on the Vita. Just don't go in expecting Naughty Dog's grandeur.

    The Hits

    A gorgeous adventure: Sony Bend has somehow done the impossible: they've ported the Uncharted experience to a portable device without it seeming like a complete bastardization of the series. Sure, it isn't the most engaging Uncharted title but it's hard to argue over the fact that it looks like an Uncharted title. The environments lack the sense of scale that its predecessors held so highly but at no point does Golden Abyss fail to impress visually. The Panama/Central American locale, while reminiscent of Uncharted 1, has plenty of character and beautiful vistas. Character models move and act like they did in Uncharted 1 and 2 and facial detail and animation seen on par with Uncharted 1. As Vita's technical showcase, Uncharted is without peers.

    Motion control aftertouch: Motion controls by themselves are, almost uniformly, terrible. Letting you make little tweaks with your wrists once you've lined up your shot with the analog stick, however, is a revelation. It gives you a level of precision that is almost unheard of. I found the general aiming/shooting in the game to feel a little off, mostly because of the lack of major sensitivity on the Vita's analog sticks, so being able to make slight adjustments to my aims was a godsend. Its a small thing but I hope it gets added into to every PS3 game going forward as well.

    Hearty treasures: The amount of treasures you can find in Golden Abyss is unrivalled. From treasures, to photo hunts, to random enemy loot drops, there is a lot to find in this game. On top of that, every treasure has its own couple sentences of descriptive text that helps seal its importance in the game world. These are little touches that help make these side activities more meaningful. Its one of the few areas in which Golden Abyss surpasses its predecessors. Congrats.

    Effective soundtrack: I'm a fan of Greg Edmonson's work for the Uncharted trilogy and was disappointed in finding out they had someone else involved for Golden Abyss. The end result is a blend of familiar themes by Edmonson and new, more atmospheric tunes by Clint Bajakian. The two blend together very well, and while the overall score lacks some of the emotional highs of Edmonson's work, Bajakian's score is robust and has plenty of depth. Its hard to fault it. Speaking of sound, Nolan North continues to bring Nathan Drake to life. An impressive job, given the lacklustre script...

    The Misses

    Just about everything else... : I'm being a little harsh here, but beyond the visual fidelity, competent soundtrack, aftertouch aiming and expanded treasure hunts, Golden Abyss performs disappointingly in just about every other category. Where to begin?

    Ho-hum writing: The script, while fine, is nowhere near as human or sharp as Amy Hennig and the rest of Naughty Dog's work. Character interactions are filled with cheesy one-liners, the plot is intriguing but clumsily told, and Drake's supporting cast is uniformly hollow and two dimensional. The chemistry between Drake and Sully is still there, though considering only a third or less of the game revolves around those two, it is disappointingly brief. There are also leaps in logic that must be taken, such as the final showdown between your main antagonist: the two of you are in the thick of a fist fight when the bad guy pulls out a sword, which quickly turns the tide of battle against Drake. Funnily enough, during the entire sequence you can see that Drake has a massive machete on his belt: why not use it to defend yourself? There are a handful of moments throughout that, while not plot holes, come across as silly.

    Dizzying level design: Its understandable for a portable Uncharted title to lose some of the scale of its console predecessors but the general level design shouldn't have to cut corners either. While generally acceptable, the environments seem to really close in on Drake, leading to a somewhat claustrophobic experience. Its hard to really put your finger on it, but the environments feel like video game levels and not real locations.

    Touch Controls aplenty: aftertouch aiming aside, this game is full of pointless gimmicks. For the most part I don't mind them (touching the dirt off of old antiques is hokey but I dug it!), I thought making the final boss fights touch screen only was a major letdown. Very anticlimactic and really took me out of the experience, seeing as I was bombarded with a massive yellow arrow filling up the screen every 2 seconds. Another issue I have is in its integration of mandatory touch controls in all the menus. I'm not inherently against touch controls (especially for menus!) but when the menus are basically the same as they've always been in the Uncharted series (small and narrow) its clear not a lot of effort went into making the general menus more touch-friendly. Just let me navigate them with the D-Pad if you're going to do a half-assed job of it.

    Flawed Vita controls: Seeing as how this is the only shooter I've played on the Vita, its hard to say whether Uncharted is to blame or the Vita itself, but I found the general shooting/aiming to be unsatisfying. The analog sticks are so small that going from 0 to 100 is such a minor touch that a lot of the subtleties of aiming are lost. Part of this I'm sure is an adjustment period to new controls, but I definitely found the combat the least interesting part of the whole game. And seeing as how this is an action game, this is a bit tragic. Its perfectly functional but by no means great.

    But in the end:

    From a distance, Golden Abyss is an excellent Uncharted experience that nails a lot of what makes the series so great. And to be fair, just about everything in the series crosses over relatively intact. The entire game is a "good" experience but not much else. Sure, the lows aren't that low, but the highs aren't that high either. Bend have proven that, technically speaking, the Vita could handle a fantastic Uncharted game, given better writing and the elimination of some of the motion control gimmicks. Technical wizardry with a lot of the series' charm sucked out, this is a good game but by no means a great one.

    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...

      5 out of 5 found this review helpful.

      Uncharted: Golden Abyss Review 0

      Uncharted is one of most, if not favorite game series this console generation. From the witty dialogue, beloved characters, and the many engrossing adventures I’ve gotten to go on with Nathan Drake, few other video game franchises could quite match the experience I have always gotten out of an Uncharted game.So I was confident based on what I’ve seen that the Vita could do that the little portable console could deliver a full-fledged Uncharted adventure that I could take with me and play on the...

      1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

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