Uncharted: Golden Abyss Review

Uncharted: Golden Abyss Review

Naughty Dog hit a massive homerun when they released the original Uncharted. They then hit a grand slam when they came out with Uncharted 2, and even though thoughts on Uncharted 3 were mixed among gamers, it was still a great installment into the franchise. However, at that point, there was the feeling that Uncharted had done its dash admirably and that it was time to put the franchise to rest, even with Uncharted : Golden Abyss around the corner. After all, it posed a few question marks. Firstly, it was a launch title for the PlayStation Vita and secondly, it was no longer being developed by Naughty Dog - Sony Bend were at the helm. In short, it didn't end up being too bad, but Golden Abyss isn't in the same league as its bigger brothers.

Golden Abyss is a prequel to the main trilogy. Once again, we follow our long time hero, Nathan Drake and this time around he's exploring Central America to discovery a legendary lost city. Along his travels, Nathan finds himself caught in the middle of a rivalry between Jason Dante (an old friend) and Marisa Chase, a fellow treasure hunter trying to find her grandfather who recently vanished. While all this happens, the gang also has to avoid a man by the name of Roberto Guerro, an ex-general who has taken up the drug cartel with his small army.

The story can get quite convoluted with the vast amounts of historical names, places, events, etc, but if you can hang in there, it's quite entertaining. The new characters work well and despite the lack of friendly faces, it doesn't feel as though Drake is out of his depth.

While story is seen as a strong driver for the Uncharted series, the gameplay itself is equally important. Retaining the gameplay of the franchise, Golden Abyss stays true to its 3rd person shooter/platforming/adventure roots. This installment, even though it's on a handheld system, has all of the elements that made the first game great - an impressive feat. If you've played one of the earlier titles, you'll quickly fall into the groove with the Vita controls. The combat and platforming all work exceptionally well. However, Sony Bend also set out to make use of the motion controls and the touch screen, with varying degrees of success.

Throughout the opening of the game, the tutorial shows you how you use the touch screen to navigate when you are jumping or climbing walls by simply touching where you want to go. In addition, certain platforming section makes use of the motion controls. To put it simply, it works fine in the game, but using it feels a bit awkward and veterans will often find themselves using the joysticks and buttons instead. It's nice to have the option though.

In the same manner, when aiming during combat, you can make use of the motion controls to aim at your target by physically moving the Vita around rather than using the joystick. Again, it's something that works with mixed results, but there is the option to turn it off should you wish to. You will also use the touch screen for all melee attacks and grenades.

The system can be very hit and miss and takes some getting use to. In addition, you'll pickup and drop weapons using the touch screen. On the whole, it works fine, but since the "pick up this weapon" icon is so close to the edge of the screen, you can end up accidentally picking up weapons if your thumb gets too close. It's not a huge deal, but it can get annoying during a tense fire-fight.


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