Uncharted: Golden Abyss is the fourth installment in the Uncharted series and the series’ first portable version. It was one of the first games released for the PlayStation Vita and so far was the only one to start off at a price of $49.99 unlike other PS Vita games which had the default price of $39.99. It was developed by SCE Bend Studio, with development overseen by Naughty Dog.
The story is set some time before the events of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune which means this was before the time of Elena, and begins with Nathan Drake following rival explorer Jason Dante through a temple complex in Panama. Just like Uncharted 2 which started you off in a confused position from the get go, this game does also as Dante has ordered his army of mercenaries to kill Drake on sight, and after a series of gunfights, Drake is apparently killed in an RPG explosion.
This is where the game shines and there was literally nothing wrong with it as Naughty Dog, or Bend Studio I should say, hit the nail on the head as this is easily one of the best looking PS Vita games out right now. It doesn’t look as good as Uncharted 3 of course but I promise you some moments in this game will still leave your mouth on the floor regardless.
The gameplay in terms of movement feels smooth, but when it came to aiming your gun, the sensitivity starts off quite slow and even with some adjustments to the sensitivity speed in the options it still may feel a bit weird at first. It will take some time to get used to unlike Unit 13 which was spot on from the get go. Golden Abyss’ controls will feel normal half way through the game. Since this game came out after Uncharted 3 you would think that features like sprinting would be included but apparently not since it was missing in action. Since the PS Vita lacks a R2, R3 and L2, L3 some controls had to be moved around and that might be the reason why sprint wasn’t included but it was really needed at any given point. R2 which was used for reloading is now a touch option on the screen or down on the d-pad which feel more comfortable. L2 which was grenade was switched to where you have to find the grenade icon on screen, drag it out of its placement and on the the field. Granted it is innovative but not quite smart since sometimes you have your finger all over the screen and if you’re trying to see it could get a little irritating and sometimes trying to position the grenade and toss it while in cover would just lead to Drake tossing the grenade right on top of the cover he was hiding under.
The rear touch panel which does nothing in a combat situation, was not taken advantage of for a grenade option or shoulder swap option which would have been a lot more convenient to the player. I was always a fan of arcing my grenade in past Uncharted games. With the sixaxis it always went in the exact spot you wanted it to and the rear touch panel held down and using the gyro system in the PS Vita would have been a lot more comfortable way to throw a grenade than the option they chose. Even when it came to aiming down the sights while trying to throw a grenade feels extremely uncomfortable. Speaking of shoulder swapping in past Uncharted games, it was L3 but since that isn’t here it was changed to L1 and Triangle which in past Uncharted games L1 and Triangle was used to switch weapons, and now if you want to switch weapons you either use the D-pad like in past Uncharted games or a touch option on screen, which may come as a inconvenience to anyone who used L1 and Triangle in the middle of combat to switch weapons. The game also features touch and motion based controls for navigation and aiming for the sniper rifle as Killzone 2 did before and it works just as good, though these are optional control schemes.
The 1.01 update added “Black Market”, an in-game store which enables players to trade and receive bounty items that are collected in the game with other Vita players using the PS Vita’s NEAR application. This feature was a good add to an extent. Many found issues in the Black Market and the amount of Bounty Treasure Sets it had only added to the replay value. But the fact that this feature was used as collection came to players as a short cut option to getting the bounty treasures. You could either collect bounty treasure through the black market which was recommended or you could sit there and replay chapters grinding enemies for drops like in some sort of RPG game. Obviously that way was extremely boring but at least the option was present for anyone who apparently could not connect online with their PS Vita. In addition to this, the patch also prepared the game to use the Treasure Map DLC pack.
+ Graphical Beast
+ Traditional Uncharted Story Quality
+ Great Dialogue Moments
+ The most single player replay value you can find in any Uncharted out right now
- The Control Scheme could have been done a bit better or at least had a control configuration
- Aiming felt unnatural (and it’s not because of the PS Vita because Unit 13 got it right)
- QTE Touch Related Boss Battles seemed lack luster and inconsequential
- Story length may have lagged on a bit longer than it should have and the pace felt quite off