The Uncharted series has been a system seller due to its blockbuster presentation compared to actual Hollywood movies. In addition to the presentation; there is also the perfect mix of action and adventure. With the recent release of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PS3), a lot of fans were impressed that Naughty Dog nailed exactly what fans were looking for. Now that the Vita is on its way to North America and Europe in February 2012, the developer behind the portable version of Resistance Retribution and Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow, is bringing yet another PS3 title to the portable world with Uncharted: Golden Abyss.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss will be a launch title for the PlayStation Vita. Compared to Naughty Dog’s Uncharted trilogy, does Bend Studio have what it takes to make Golden Abyss a worthy launch title for gamers? Let’s take a look in the HOTs and NOTs of our review.
Wondrous Presentation for a Handheld
For a handheld title, Bend Studio did a remarkable job on making Golden Abyss, resemble the visuals of Drake’s Fortune. The environment’s texture and crisp detail are on par with the first game. Fans of Uncharted will be dazzled to see the lush jungle of Central America in addition to the detailed ruins. This is so impressive that some fans might forget it’s a portable title. What makes the presentation of Golden Abyss even better, is that Nathan Drake is once again voiced by Nolan North. Fans can expect the same quality voice work and motion capture that was found in the Uncharted trilogy.
The story of Nathan Drake is filled with mystery and adventure. Like the original trilogy implies, Drake had adventures prior to Drakes Fortune and one of those is Golden Abyss. Some things like past relationships will appear in this game and answer some fan’s questions too.
Golden Abyss takes place several years prior to the events of Drake’s Fortune. Taking place in the treacherous river basins, ancient ruins and caverns of Central America. This adventure follows Drake and his partner Marissa Chase as they set out on a journey to uncover the secrets behind the 400-year-old massacre of a Spanish Expedition led by Friar Marcus. Using an amulet given to them by Chase’s grandfather, they must unlock the mysteries it may hold, which may lead to the “Golden Abyss”. Fans of the franchise can expect the same mystery/excitement, which compels gamers to find out what happens next. Expect a story of betrayal, trust and love between the characters of Golden Abyss.
Touch Screen is a New Way to Solve Puzzles
In all three Uncharted games, fans may remember the focus is on adventure with brief puzzle solving segments. In Golden Abyss with the assistance of the Vita’s touch screens, players who love solving puzzles will get right into the game. The majority of the adventure in Central America, you will be solving puzzles using the touch screen. Some puzzles include solving a jigsaw puzzle, picking a lock, charcoal rubbing and capturing photos of ancient places you will get to uncover. All of these are an essential element which Bend Studio implemented into Golden Abyss. The way they incorporated the touchscreens shows you how well these elements go together.
Similar to the trilogy, players will still be hunting for hidden treasures. Unlike the original titles, there are a lot of collectibles and treasures to uncover in the game. In the thirty-four chapters of Golden Abyss, players can expect a plethora of treasures that can be found. Through the help of Drake’s notebook, all of the necessary treasures are listed under the “Mystery” section. All of these items have an additional story located under this section too. Anyone looking for the full story are advised to collect every treasure.
Improved Shooting Mechanics
In addition to Bend Studio incorporating the touchscreen mechanics wonderfully, you can except the same style of shooting gameplay as well. Using the SIXAXIS or gyro controls that are equipped with the Vita, players can combine both the second analog stick and the gyro to obtain precise aim when shooting down enemies. This is extremely helpful when using the Dragon’s sniper rifle. Additionally, the grenade mechanics were improved from what the console games used. By simply holding the grenade icon on the lower right screen, players can drag it to the desired place they want it to throw. No need to do any titling, just to throw a grenade.
Quick Time Events Utilize Touch Panels
Bend Studio really wants players to be involved in what’s going on in Golden Abyss. This is achieved by making the quick time events require things like a swipe across the screen in a specific direction (designated by an arrow). This is mostly done when climbing the ledges or while doing a melee attack against enemies.
Same Uncharted Formula
Many are skeptical if there are any changes in Golden Abyss. Well, aside from what’s been mentioned above, Golden Abyss plays and looks exactly like any other Uncharted title. The feel and the aura will be familiar to players. Fans of the franchise will not feel lost or new while playing. As for newcomers, this is a great way to get yourself familiar with the amazing Uncharted series.
Golden Abyss has thirty four chapters and the length of it is similar to the previous titles. From start to finish, players will have a blast playing Golden Abyss, although you might want to play the game while hooked on the charger. In my playthrough, it took me around 12 hours under the Hard difficulty, that’s roughly four charge cycles, considering each charge held around 3 hours. For those who wish to get the Platinum Trophy, you must replay the game again on Crushing difficulty and get any treasure you may have missed.
Weakest in the Series
A lot of fans are wondering if Golden Abyss is any better than Drake’s Fortune. After playing through the various chapters of the game, I must say that Golden Abyss is the weakest game in the series. While the story has that Uncharted “feel” to it, it lacks the explosive action and drama that we all loved in the other titles. In the first half of Golden Abyss, players will experience a slow start. However, as the game goes right into the climax and the end, there’s that feeling that something is missing and there’s that time players will wonder if it was rushed. Don’t get me wrong, the story is well developed, but it’s absolutely not any better than the previous stories in the series.
Many had complaints on the somewhat weak AI of the Uncharted games. For anyone wondering, it is roughly the same AI that is present in the other titles. While they’re not that bad, there will be times when players will say to themselves that these enemies are stupid.
Everyone loves the Hollywood movie-like presentation of Uncharted. Gamers who wants to revisits the cut scenes all over again with Golden Abyss will not have the ability to do so, this is due to there being no extra’s unlocked upon completing the game. However, Bend Studio might release a patch down the road to add a Cutscene Viewer. While this might seem silly, the very same thing happened with Uncharted 3.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss is a great title for anyone looking for a game to go with their Vita. It’s a launch title that gamers shouldn’t miss as it’s one of those games that will showcase what the Vita can do in terms of visuals, the use of its features such as the touch and rear panel and the tilt gyro controls. While the story isn’t as good as the original trilogy, Golden Abyss deserves to carry Naughty Dog’s Uncharted name. Should we expect a prequel trilogy now? Absolutely and let’s all pray that Bend Studio does a great job with it if it happens!
[Editor’s Note: Uncharted: Golden Abyss review is based on the Japanese version where the English audio track and menu exist. Screenshots are taken by us via the Vita’s screenshot utility.]Uncharted: Golden Abyss Review,