Uncharted is arguably the biggest franchise for Sony in its wave of next generation games, so in turn to make the PS Vita sell better Sony decided to bring Uncharted to its owners and prospective buyers. Thus, Uncharted: Golden Abyss was born, it was developed not by Naughty Dog but by Sony Bend Studios, marking the first Uncharted game not created by its original studio. The game features Nathan Drake before the PS3 trilogy, as we all know and love him, in addition to changing bits of the Uncharted-style gameplay to accompany the many specs you can find and use on your Playstation Vita.
Uncharted Golden Abyss has just as good a story as the Uncharted games before it. In this adventure, you play a young Nathan Drake searching most of South America for the lost remains and the hidden whereabouts of the Spanish Conquistadors. The game starts off with you running from a bunch of hired mercenaries, hired by rival explorer Dante, and seemingly in a no-way out kind of situation, before it flashes back to how Nathan got into such a predicament. Over the course Nathan runs into old friends, like Sully, meets a female archaeologist and gets run up with a former General; as they are all searching for the Lost City of Gold. The story is good enough to keep the player wanting to see more, though doesn't quite live up to the billing as we experienced with Nathan's first games.
The gameplay is the best thing UC: Golden Abyss has and the biggest problem it has to offer. Uncharted Golden Abyss still keeps everything the same as previous Uncharted games, a 3rd-person shooter, with melee attacks, climbing ancient buildings, finding artifacts, etc. Aside from the usual Uncharted antics, is a few new bits of gameplay that are accompanied by the extensive use of the Playstation Vita's Specs. The problem with them is that they are all annoying, in the way it hinders the gameplay with its gimmicks, especially in important moments in the game. The first new implementation is the "Drake Balance" or using the Vita to fix a Nathan Drake who suddenly loses who balances in random areas. The problem is that this happens too much and in addition, if you are laying down to play the game on your handheld device, well you better pause and sit-back up straight for the 5 seconds this happens.
The next problem is the idea of touch screen fighting, in addition, to Uncharted's regular combat system. Fighting in Uncharted games usually responds to pressing Square and Triangle, to attack, finish, and/or dodge. In Golden Abyss, you must use the touch screen, when told by a giant arrow in which direction to swipe, during enemy dodge sequences, or cliche broken ladder sequences. What's the point of allowing the player to combat with buttons and then dodge with the touch screen? Why make the boss fights of the game, the most stressful touch-screen swipe direction fight of all-time? Fighting bosses could possibly be the worst thing in Uncharted: Golden Abyss because these swipes require a full-100% swipe through your Vita Screen.
Other new add-ons to the game is the not-usable Black Market which coincides with the random drops of enemy-AI's "bounty cards". This is useless for the game unless going for the platinum, like myself, and honestly a very annoying feature. Others is Drake's camera, a very fun, different style to the Drake's Journal Collections, where you must find scenes/areas in a game that match up with pictures displayed in Drake's Journal. By seeing the pictures, you can take out Drake's Camera, zoom in or out, and get the perfect picture of South America.
Uncharted Golden Abyss has fantastic graphics, with gorgeous scenery, and full voice acting throughout the entire game. Traversing rivers, forests, or cave-dungeons, all look on par to the first Uncharted game. The music is a fully orchestrated track and honestly, make's you feel like you are watching a Steven Spielberg movie, which is a damn good thing. Replay-value wise I would say it's on par with the Uncharted games, as Survivor mode is unlocked again, after completion of the game; so it's up to you if you want to relieve the story.
Uncharted Golden Abyss is a good game, but not a good Uncharted game. Small gimmicks ruin the flow of the gameplay, that not even the alright story and great musical score can save. The game is very funny and engaging though, with a great scene with Sully and Drake having a game of "that's what she said" and constantly has the player wanting to collect all artifacts or location data. If it weren't for forcing the touch-screen moments in vital parts of the game or the random drops for the platinum hunt, the game would definitely be better. Unfortunately, this is not the game to boost Vita sales, it's another good entry into a great franchise though.
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