The Uncharted series goes into uncharted territory-- on the go.
The PlayStation Vita showed immense promise when it launched. It not only had powerful hardware with a plethora of features already from the get-go, but it also had the games to back up that the system was ready and raring to go. It's my belief that the Vita's launch lineup was one of the industry's best. What amazed me with the Vita was how full console experiences from the PlayStation 3 could be brought over to the Vita with minimal compromise needed. One such excellent example is Uncharted: Golden Abyss. While the series's creator Naughty Dog may not have had a direct hand in developing the game, the always capable Sony Bend once again shows that they're more than a match for any property that is thrown their way.
Beginning in the middle of things, Uncharted: Golden Abyss tells a tale of treasure hunting, betrayal, and the bonds between protagonist Nathan Drake and the many characters he comes across. Taking place before Drake's Fortune, the first in the Uncharted series, Golden Abyss follows Drake as he is hot on the trail of a rival hunter Jason Dante. What occurs next is a rewind of sorts where the game delves into the events leading up to this moment and how the former allies in Drake and Dante had their friendship turn very sour. While narrative in video games is hardly a strong suit for the medium, the Uncharted series usually does a serviceable job on this end. In that regard, Golden Abyss shines, but nowhere near as brightly as its console brethren.
|"Excuse me, pretty boy, but we've|
got some work to do!"
|When you're not hunting for treasure,|
it's always nice to find time to enjoy the view.
|Aiming does take some practice,|
and even then, it doesn't feel 100% right.
|One shot left. Better make it count.|
Climbing cliff faces and other walls is made easier due to touch screen controls. These are totally optional, but tapping on the front screen where you want Drake to head towards mid-climb allows a greater sense of accuracy. When I found myself not knowing where to climb or drop to next, I could simply touch different sectors of the screen until I discovered a path for Drake to shimmy up like a monkey on a coconut tree.
|Don't mind me. Go ahead and admire the sunset.|
I'm just hanging around.
It's these moments as well as many other quick-time event-esque occasions, where you'll need to swipe your finger across the screen in the direction of the arrow. Doing this correctly results in success, such as knocking out the enemy with a bare-knuckle sandwich. Failing it can result in taking damage, or in the case of missing a finger swipe while climbing, can result in death. The timing is open enough so you usually have plenty of time to react. However, on harder difficulties (I'm looking at you, Crushing), the timing is very strict and quite frankly, very frustrating.
|There's no gentlemen's agreement|
when it comes to treasure.
The campaign of Uncharted: Golden Abyss will take players an initial 8-10 hours to complete. There's multiple difficulties, an abundance of hidden treasures strewn about the 34 chapters of the game, points where you can take photos of specific in-game areas to satisfy optional conditions, and even bounties on enemies that can be offed, the latter gameplay element uses the Vita's Near functionality. It's important to note that Golden Abyss is much like Drake's Fortune as there is no multiplayer component to speak of, which will definitely bring down the longevity of Golden Abyss regardless of its admirable campaign content.
|The interactions between characters is|
top-tier stuff as always.
|I'm here to shoot thugs and style my hair.|
...And I'm all out of styling gel.
[SPC Says: 8.25/10]