Published on March 6th, 2012 | by Kyle Spencer, Editor
Uncharted: Golden Abyss Review
Publisher: Sony Entertainment
Release Date: Feb. 15, 2012
MSRP: $49.99 / $44.99 DL
Uncharted: Golden Abyss is a unique game to review, being that this is the first time that we have seen the franchise on a handheld device. The game is actually pretty solid, however it does not live up to the excitement of the console versions.
Golden Abyss takes place before the events of the original Uncharted and puts you in the shoes of the infamous Nathan Drake. Nathan travels to Central America with his old friend Dante to search for hidden artifacts that will, in turn, send them on a risky adventure for a lost civilization. Sound familiar in any way? Although a majority of the Uncharted games are heavily story driven, the Vita outing is more focused on gameplay.
Nathan Drake is hired by his longtime friend Dante to identify some relics that are located in Central America, owned by a former general named Guerro. Mysteries begin to unravel and Drake runs into Marissa Chase to help him through his adventure, and Drake’s love interest. Treachery begins to set in and the challenges of uncovering the secrets of the Golden Abyss begin to unfold.
You will have different ways to go about controlling Nathan, and collecting the thousands of scattered collectibles throughout the game. You can use the simple analogue sticks to move and enlist in combat, or you can use the innovative touch screen that the Vita has built on the front and back to control the adventurer. When you find treasure that needs to be cleaned to look at you use the touch screen to wipe away the dirt to see the treasure.
I’m not one for tacked-on controls that are just thrown together to show off the features of a specific system or peripheral, but the motion and touch screen controls in Uncharted actually work very well, however I was not a big fan of the swipe mechanics that are forced upon the player. You trace the screen to where you want Nathan to travel, tap the enemies that you want to melee, and reload by selecting Nate’s gun. Remember that you can use traditional style came play mechanics if you wish but toying around with the unique Vita controls are cool.
There are some elements that I loved in the Uncharted series that never seemed to come through on the portable version. The combat was not as nailed down as previous iterations, and enemy AI is awful. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune featured some seriously poor AI, but in the series latest two iterations the AI got a lot smarter and harder to predict. In Golden Abyss, the AI is the series worst.
Environments felt very repetitive in Golden Abyss. In previous iterations, Nathan traveled from one dangerous area, to another. From the jungle to snowy cliffs, to the hot sands of the Sahara. In Golden Abyss you are in the jungles of Central America and never venture out much further. Even though the game features some impressive graphics, its hard to fall in love with the environment when there is no shake up.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss is a good game, and if you’re a fan of the series it is a must have. If you are out and about, picking up a Vita then Uncharted should be one of the first games to look at. It uses many of the systems features and gives you a solid 32-level game to play through. Is it as stellar as the console versions? No, but I do not think that is the intention here. Uncharted is a game that shows off the power of the Vita and demonstrates the potential of the system. It’s hard to justify the extra $10 charge on the game. Especially when all the other releases are $39.99 and can do similar things.
+ Voice acting
– Horrible AI
– Swipe controls
– Repetitive environment