It would seem like Sony and its developers would stop releasing Uncharted games after the successful and great trilogy that appeared on the PS3, but fortunately for fans, a brand new title in the series has made its way to the company’s new portable system, the PS Vita. Nathan Drake once again shoots his way against hordes of mercenaries in an excellent way looking for treasure, a city lost in history and uncovering the mysteries of old legends.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss is simply one of the best Vita games right now and definitely the best-looking so far. The story takes place way before the events of Uncharted 1 and Nate has to uncover a secret and lost golden city in Panama along with his partner called Dante, a new female protagonist called Chase and of course, Sully (Elena and Chloe aren’t in the game sadly). Like in the PS3 games, he’ll climb a lot of impossible walls and ledges, shoot and fight hundreds of mercenaries and solve curious puzzle to reach his objectives. This time, however, the players will make use of the Vita’s many cute motion and touch controls for this.
Graphically, the game is truly awesome. The environments are full of jungles and forests and trust me when I say that the visuals can be compared with Uncharted 1. It has excellent textures, solid frame rate, great lightning effects and animations in everything, characters and locations. Bend Studio seems to have learned a lot from the original creators Naughty Dog when they recreated Nate’s adventure in the Vita.
There isn’t much environmental variety as there was in Uncharted 2. Most of the game takes place in the Panama jungles, mountains and forests so there’s a lot of green to run and climb around. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because the graphics are so beautiful that every area has its charm and players really won’t be able to blame themselves when they find themselves stopping here and there just to look at the areas the game takes place in.
One of the things that usually seem to hurt portable games is the sound quality. To be honest, I have a hard time remembering a DS or PSP game with truly good sound quality other than probably Dissidia 012. That is not the case with the Vita games and especially Uncharted: Golden Abyss. This game doesn’t have anything to envy from the PS3 counterparts. It has an excellent soundtrack very much like the PS3 games with a style that fits the historical feeling of the game and the things the plot are about.
Like his older brothers, Golden Abyss has godlike voice acting. Nate and Sully are represented by the same actors as before and the new characters have excellent voices as well. They truly feel like real people, which is something that many games seem to have a hard time achieving, especially JRPGs when they get localized (Hello Xenoblade, I still remember your terribad English voice acting). Listening to the Uncharted characters talk is like watching a good action movie.
The sound effects are just as good. The game takes place in natural environments for the most part and the ambient sounds make them feel real. There are rivers, animals, rocks falling down and things like that. There are also footsteps, firefights, yells, etc. Everything is there and I don’t think it could represent what happens on the screen in a better way.
Basically, the gameplay is not as different as the PS3 versions if you just look at it. Nate will run around, climb a lot of things that seem impossible for a normal human being, shoot a lot of enemies using the cover system and iron sight and solve some old puzzles here and there. This time, however, most of the gameplay will have the option to be played via motion sensor or touch screen and pad.
Climbing, for example can be completely done by touching the areas in the screen where you want Nate to climb to. Swinging from a rope can be done by moving the Vita itself as well and even aiming while he’s using his iron sight. Things like these are 100% optional which means they can be done normally with the buttons like it’s done on PS3 so players can choose whatever method they feel more comfortable with but the Vita controls are so well elaborated and feel so natural that it is simply better to use those over the conventional buttons.
Puzzles are another story though. The vast majority of them require use of Vita controls. Some will have you rotate a stone key using the front touch screen, others will make players clean a specific device using the touch screen and rotating it with the rear touch part of the system. One of them even uses the camera to catch light and read a hidden message in some old papers. They’re truly varied, curious and fun to solve.
At first, combat will seem a little bit difficult in Golden Abyss because aiming with the right analog stick in the Vita doesn’t feel as natural as the Dual Shock 3 one, but after a while you’ll most likely get used to it. I had a lot of trouble at first and was dying a lot but by the middle of the story I was already landing headshots constantly with the FAL and AK-47. Most of the usual Uncharted weapons are there, the pistols, M4, AK-47, FAL, RPG-7, shotgun and even Uncharted 2’s minigun from the big armored guys (who seem easier to kill this time around). Melee combat also has you use the touch controls but it’s really fun. You see a line in the screen that you’re supposed to follow to land a successful punch or kick to the guy Nate is fighting at the moment.
The annoying snipers with lasers are there, just like the armored dudes with shotguns who seem to love to get close to Nate for a close-distance kill and all of them are of course accompanied by dozens and dozens of the normal mercenaries you’ll have to shoot even while you climb. The combat is intense and extremely fun in Golden Abyss.
Sadly, there’s no multiplayer at all which would have been more than welcome for the game, especially considering the solid multiplayer Uncharted 2 and 3 have on PS3. This hurts the replay value a bit just like it did to the very first game of the series. Fortunately, Golden Abyss has tons, and I mean TONS of secret items to get and extra puzzles to solve before you really complete it 100%. There’s even a nice bounty-hunting system where some specific mercenaries in the story have a designated name and after being killed, a list is filled. It’s a simple way to add variety and replay value, but a nice and fun one.
For closing comments, I can really say Uncharted: Golden Abyss is definitely the best-looking game in the Vita right now and one of its best titles along with Gravity Rush, Ninja Gaiden, Persona 4, Little Big Planet and others. Anyone with a PS Vita simply needs to get his/her hands on this game. A new adventure by Nathan Drake and Sully is always welcome in a Sony console and Golden Abyss does it right, even if it’s not made by Naughty Dog.
- Excellent graphics and visual presentation.
- Touch and motion controls are well elaborated and feel natural.
- Great combat and shooting mechanics.
- Awesome puzzles to solve.
- Beautiful landscapes to visit.
- Godlike voice acting and narrative.
- Nate and Sully make a truly amazing team.
- Tons of hidden items to obtain.
- No multiplayer.
- Aiming with the right stick takes a little time to get used to.
- Graphics and Visuals…….…..10
- Music and Sound Effects…......9
- Replay Value………………....8
- Overall Score……………….. 9 / 10