Uncharted Golden Abyss Overview V2.0

I remember when the vita was released this was one of the first games to showcase the system. It was also one of the launch games. I bought the uncharted bundle and I bought it more or less just for Golden Abyss. I bought mine in early 2012. It was in Seoul and I didn’t really have access to internet at the time but I did see it in person. It was a gorgeous game then, and it is still stands up extremely well over 5 years later.  I did actually write a review for it when I first played it. That you can find here: Uncharted Review 1.0. I almost completely forgot about it however, and this one is based on my second playthrough that I finished this month. Let’s call it Overview 2.0

The gameplay is more or less what you would expect from an uncharted game. You have Drake who can hop, climb and shoot his way through almost any situation. It really is just like having a miniature portable version of Uncharted 1 honestly. The levels are lush and full of scenery. There are still a lot of enemies, but you don’t get the same kind of waves that you do in the PS3 counterparts. Aside from the touch controls and the gyro balance sensors the gameplay is exactly like the game play of Uncharted 1/2/3 on ps3. If you haven’t played any of the Uncharted series then I would say the gameplay is something like a cross between a Tomb Raider game/Indiana Jones game, and a Gears of War game. Uncharted borrows elements from all 3 of these. New to the series is the camera allows you to take pictures of most non-combat scenes. It gets stored in the journal and it also gets stored as a screenshot in the Vita which you can share the picture via email if you configure the Vita to use an email account.

The story in Golden Abyss is also pretty much what you would expect from any of the other uncharted games, there is the usual assortment of allies and enemies and Drake is once again in the middle of a jungle looking for clues and artifacts. Drake kind of gets roped into this one by Chase and Dante.I think it stands on its own and could be considered a full entry in the Uncharted saga. Dante and Chase are both fun characters, it really feels more like Drake is the sidekick this time around and Chase is the one driving the story. It still manages to be pretty entertaining and interesting though. Overall it kind of feels like a side spinoff coming from Uncharted 1.

I honestly didn’t expect that much from the Vita after owning its predecessor the PSP (I had a Peace Walker PSP-2000) but I was really impressed with the Vita when I saw it in person based almost purely on Uncharted Golden Abyss (which was being demoed instore at the time). It looks vastly better than a PS2 game, and it looks way better than a PSP game. It looks nearly as good as a PS3 game might but it doesn’t quite reach the same level. I would have said it has the background of a PS3 Uncharted game but the models themselves aren’t at the same level as Uncharted 2 but they might be almost comparable to Uncharted 1. They are certainly on par with other games on the PS3 system but they look fantastic thanks to the OLED screen.It is easy to just stop on one of the cliff levels and just look around, even objects in the far distance are animated and it looks really pretty.

The animations are pretty smooth. For the majority of the game it looks to be running at a pretty solid 30 fps but there are certain points when it obviously drops. Considering the output and the hardware, it’s still an impressive achievement that they got it to look that pretty but still run so smoothly most of the time. Some of the later levels lagged a bit or when there were a lot of enemies or there were big explosions on screen but it didn’t compromise the experience. The water looked amazing.

This is a brand new area for the uncharted series (although it wouldn’t surprise me if Uncharted 4 implemented a similar sort of system with the ps4 touch controller). The vita has both touchscreen on the front and it has a touch sensitive area on the back so it naturally lends itself to touching. You often have to use the touchscreen. A lot of things can be controlled with the buttons the same way you would control drake in the ps3 games, but the gyroscope definitely makes things a little bit trickier. If you enter aiming mode with a gun or the camera, the whole screen will be tilted with even the simplest of movements, and it can make precise aiming really difficult even though it was probably meant to help. The game has plenty of moments during cut scenes when it will suddenly without warning force you to make a tomb raider style catch or movement that will be really unexpected. It takes you out of the experience and more often than not you won’t see it coming and you will die and you will have to restart the entire cut scene. You can’t really turn it off either. It was a neat thing to implement but it is also a bit annoying without any hints or warnings (those final boss fights). The touch screen is also used to create charcoal rubbings of statues and clean dirt off of artifacts which is a cool idea that is a much better use of the touchscreen. It feels like they tried a little bit too hard to make you use the touchscreen controls. Most of the things they tried to implement work pretty well but without an option to turn them off they go from nifty to annoying.

There isn’t any multiplayer in Uncharted Golden Abyss.

Unlike the other uncharted games, there isn’t really any secret unlockables or fun filters. There aren’t any cheat codes for infinite ammo or change of costumes like there are in the other Uncharted games. Once you have found an artifact or a charcoal rubbing you can look at it anytime in the collections menu and Drake has something entertaining to say about it usually. The collectibles are arranged in a rather interesting mosaic and they are categorized by type time period (although many of the pieces will be scattered all over the game). You will have one mosaic that has pieces in it that cannot possibly be completed until you have beaten the game even though the mosaic is from the first chapter of the game. The game is rather helpful however, and if you click on a missing icon of a collectible it will give you a hint as to where to find it. The other Uncharted games don’t do that. The Mosaic time period is a combination of artifacts that have be found and dusted off, charcoal rubbings, and pictures that have to be taken at certain locations with the camera. There’s also a third subsection of collectibles that are gems or statues so there is actually a lot of things to collect but there aren’t really any rewards beyond trophies for getting them.

It’s a real shame that Sony only made a couple of dedicated exclusives for the vita that weren’t just portable ports of the PS3/PS4 counterparts. This is one of the few games that was not made by Sony/Naughty Dog but I would still say is good enough to be part of the core Uncharted game experience. It is really rare that the portable Sony consoles make an exclusive standalone to an existing series that can stand apart on its own and be classified as a critical part of the series. It was a wonderful way to show what the vita is truly capable of but unfortunately Sony hasn’t really taken advantage of the system and now it’s pretty clear they probably won’t.

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~ by kain243 on March 19, 2017.

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