Review: Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Mar 4, 2012

Golden Abyss is exactly what Sony was hoping for as the premier launch title for the Vita. It’s a full-blown console experience in the palm of your hands. As you play the game there are moments you are reminded Naughty Dog was not typing the code. But for the most part, this is a game that every Vita owner, every Uncharted fan, and everybody with $40 to spare should play.

Production Fidelity: Voice actor Nolan North is back in the saddle as Drake and if you asked him, he wasn’t recording a cheap handheld version of Uncharted. He, and the other actors, brought their A game for this one. Character movements are more stiff than the console versions of Uncharted, but still very impressive for a handheld. That’s not an excuse, however. Truthfully, if this were a console release I would dog it for its graphics, but admit it looks and feels similar to Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (the first release in the series).

Gameplay: If you’ve played any game in this beloved series, you’ll immediately enjoy the logic of movement throughout Golden Abyss. Protagonist Nathan Drake jumps, climbs, slips, falls, dodges, shoots, and cracks funny jokes. For the most part, you are in just one environment from beginning to end and there really isn’t much variety. After 4 titles, outdoor jungle ruins are starting to blend together for me. Activities added to the series, made capable through the multi-input magic that is the Vita, is the option to collect artifacts, take pictures of the environment, and solve old fashion puzzles. It does require that you do more than look for shiny objects as you do with treasures. It can be challenging to find them as this game is not as sharp as other Vita titles. Trophy support is strong as you can expect with so many new collection options. I’m excited to play this 3-4 times to get the platinum. I won’t dive too deeply into the input options. Some are gimmicky but truly not a big deal.

Story: Naughty Dog may not have their stamp on this one (we have the amazing Sony Bend Studio to thank) but I’m confident they were consulted. While this one doesn’t have the twists or “ah-ha” moments of other Uncharted games, it is a solid story that lends a good background to both Nathan Drake and Sully. New characters join the series and have that lovable feel to them we have come to expect from this series. The story takes place before Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.