Game Review: Uncharted: Golden Abyss (PS Vita)
When I bought the bundled Playstation Vita, it came with Uncharted: Golden Abyss among other games. It was one of the original released games on Playstation’s latest hand-held system and is found exclusively on the Vita. Since I am not a Playstation owner, this was my first time with the Uncharted franchise. Though I heard many great things about the game, I couldn’t help but think I’ve seen this before…archaeology, bad guys, scaling perilous cliffs, tomb raiding. It sounds so familiar, but I can’t quite place it 😉 Anyway, my expectations were actually pretty low. At the end of the story, I have to say I was pleasantly pleased.
The game takes place in Panama at a dig site. Drake is accompanied by a friend, but before too long it is evident that Drake’s friend is not really his friend, but a partner of Guerro…the warlord. Oooh! The plot thickens and chaos ensues. Guerro has an abundance of fearless henchmen that are available for target practice with Drake’s shooting and stealth killing prowess. All the trappings of a tomb raiding game are present…scaling the impossible, finding artifacts, and getting closer to the truth. Drake is accompanied by Chase…a chick. She’s cool, but gets herself in a little bit of trouble where Drake must bail her out all the while collecting artifacts and revealing the story of what happened down there.
I was skeptical that a game of this magnitude could be pulled off on a hand-held system. Based on other tomb raiding games I have played, the depth and scale of the game seems like it would be too much for the small screen. It actually worked out quite well. The little screen and the system’s frame rate were able to run the game smoothly. I was impressed. I am not sure of the mechanics on the regular PS3 or PS4, but on the Vita you get to use the touch screen and the back touchpad of the Vita for certain things. Sometimes it felt a little gimmicky, like sliding your finger along the corresponding arrow during a fist fight, but it allowed for more options. The Vita doesn’t have as many buttons as your standard controller, so the front and back touch screen options give the Vita more options. The back touchpad was used for zooming in and out for the camera and sniper rifle. What’s an archaeology-based game without a sniper rifle?
Despite the game being a little bit linear, all the little things you need to find along the way are difficult to find. You really have to scour the area thoroughly. Many of the artifacts flash a bright while light to help you find them, but they are not all that obvious. One thing I found irritating is that often, when you walk into a new area, you’ll see plenty of treasure for the picking, but the game goes to a cut-scene, but when the cut-scene is over it immediately takes you to the next area without the ability to go back. I was like WTF! My other main issue were the controls during gun battles. There were quite a few gun battles that I thought took away from searching for booty. Not Chase’s, but the artifacts. I estimate several hundred people died in this game at the hands of Drake. The weapon’s sight was difficult to control. Lucky for Drake he can take a moderate amount of bullets before dying. On the other hand, the henchmen are moderately difficult to kill unless you pop them with a headshot. Otherwise it takes a few rounds to knock them down upon which, Drake can pilfer the left over rounds. In the end…too many gun battles. I would rather spend my time searching every nook and cranny for stuff. The voice acting was excellent.
Surprisingly, this game on the Vita wasn’t all the difficult to control. There are several side tasks you can accomplish vs. just pushing through the game. There are the artifacts to find and photos to take and charcoal drawings to make. If you take your time and try to be thorough, the game should last a solid 8 hours or so; probably a few hours less if you are more concerned with just finishing. A game like this on a hand-held systems shows promise in the hand-held department. It was a fun game on such a small screen.