Uncharted: Golden Abyss Review
When it comes to playing games with a whole lot of adventure, nothing beats Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series. The trilogy has proven to be effective when it comes to providing action galore, along with an ideal amount of character that would put Indiana Jones to shame — well, the one that appeared in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, anyway. Now, with Naughty Dog busy working on The Last of Us, Sony Bend has stepped up to bring the series’ hero, Nathan Drake, to portable waters with Uncharted: Golden Abyss for the PlayStation Vita.
Once again, Nathan’s on an epic treasure hunt, this time with a couple of new characters that have no problem fitting into the Uncharted universe. Nathan will spend a good amount of his time taking out bad guys, either by shooting them while in cover or punching them out with on-screen drawing prompts, ideal for melee attacks. The game as a whole doesn’t last as long as the console versions, particularly with the lack of multiplayer, but there’s still more than enough to see and do with Drake’s fourth go-around.
The gameplay can divert pretty easily between entertaining and frustrating. While it works well for the most part, there are segments that take too much time to complete. For instance, taking pictures and then having to restructure the pictures from a black and white build is a bit frustrating, as is building a flyer as if it were a crossword puzzle. We can understand dusting off artifacts to discover their worth, and even drawing on the PS Vita screen to complete certain actions, but these puzzles don’t exactly feel like a solid fit, even if Sony Bend had the best of intentions.
That being said, Uncharted: Golden Abyss still has plenty of run and gun action, whether you’re hanging from a ledge and using it for cover as you shoot at enemies below, or taking out foes with a sniper rifle while your cohort tries to scramble out of danger. The mechanics work as briskly as they did in the console versions, though you’re really better off using traditional controls over touch-screen whenever you can. Some enemies are a little too stupid for their own good, but if you crank up the difficulty a bit, they’ll be up for more of a fight.
The visuals in Uncharted are outstanding and really bring out the processing power of the PlayStation Vita. While this obviously won’t be mistaken for the better-looking Uncharted console games, it works reasonably well here, with its lush 3D environments, dynamic lighting, strong animations and great camera angles. Even when you’re descending down the side of a cliff, you can look up with ease at enemies, shoot them, and watch their bodies fall right past you. It’s quite a sight.
The sound is good too, mainly thanks to the presence of Nolan North, once again filling the role of Nathan Drake with just the right amount of charm. The other voice actors are good as well, and the game has plenty of dramatic music to back up its gunshots and ambient sound effects.
Aside from the main game, you can fool around in the Black Market, where you can trade items with other players online. Though that’s hardly a replacement for multiplayer, it does allow you to build a vast online collection of goodies — just like any good-natured treasure hunter should do.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss has its hiccups, but in the end, it’s another notch in the belt for Nathan Drake and company, and a worthwhile title for your PlayStation Vita collection. But next time we see him show up, would it be too much trouble to bring Elena and Sully along for the ride? We miss them…