The “Uncharted” franchise has been an action darling ever since it was released in 2007 and each subsequent game has been better and better.
Just four months since the release of the third game in the series, “Uncharted: Golden Abyss” is called upon to be the system seller for the PlayStation Vita.
Once again you’re in the shoes of Nathan Drake, treasure hunter and suave everyman, in a search for a lost city in Central America. While a prequel to the original game, it’s set up as its own story. The writing is snappy and funny, and the story provides some cool historical and mythological touches, but it lacks any real character development. Rather than exploring Drake’s background, you get what feels like a filler episode in a TV series. All these events happen, but have no effect on the trilogy ahead of it
“Golden Abyss,” while developed by a different studio than the PS3 versions, retains most of the original gameplay elements. You’ll still be ducking into cover, shooting from a third-person perspective and defying death with each jump you make. A few wrinkles are added in due to the Vita’s motion controls and touchscreen.
For gunplay, the Vita’s motion controls allows you to tilt it for aiming, which is a great addition. Once you get good at it, you can point in a general direction and make a slight adjustment by just shifting the Vita in a direction. Once you master it, you’ll be popping out of cover and making headshots with ease.
Another really cool feature is the touchscreen puzzles and treasures. In the original games, all treasures were just shiny points on the map that you ran over and picked up, but in “Golden Abyss” there are all different types. Using the Touchscreen to do charcoal rubbings, take photos and even using the back camera to display writing on a light sensitive paper makes you feel like a treasure hunter.
While many of these qualities are cool, many of them are also gimmicks. It seems that “Sony Bend” was forced to place every single function the Vita has to offer. Swiping the screen to open doors gets old, using the gyroscope to balance on beams and using the back-touch to climb ropes just seems pointless and boring.
One of the things that most people say when they see an uncharted game is that it looks like a movie. The graphics, while gorgeous, don’t get the set piece movie moments that the “Uncharted” series is known for. Most of the game involves climbing through jungle environments and temples with no real change through the 8-12 hour experience. Instead of escaping a sinking boat, or fighting your way on top of a moving train like the other games, it boils down to merely shooting dudes and making jumps; which is still very fun.
While not up to the high standards of the original games, which set the bar very high, “Uncharted: Golden Abyss” still stands out as the blockbuster game that you’ll want to show to everyone if you have a Vita.
DEVELOPER: Sony Bend
ESRB rating: T for Teen
Genre: Third-Person Action Adventure
Platform: PlayStation Vita