With the first flicker of the Vita’s back light, an entire world explodes out of the tiny handheld’s body. The vistas go on for miles and it will amaze onlookers as they wonder how they fit an entire Uncharted world on such a small system. The graphics, the guns, the amazing leaps, and of course the breathtaking set pieces all scream “THIS IS UNCHARTED.” While the initial impression is one of amazement, you have to wonder, can the rest of Uncharted: Golden Abyss live up to this?
Uncharted: Golden Abyss is made for Uncharted fans. The game takes from all three games which will definitely give fans some nostalgia. While these homages to previous installments give the game a great balance of over the top action and fun exploration, it also brings some annoying aspects. The dreaded “stop on a 3 foot wide beam and balance” bit is back, and there are other similar annoying features that feel like they were only included to check all the boxes on the back of the Vita case.
While traversing the levels, instead of moving and jumping, you can just draw the path and Drake will follow it. However, doing this kills half the fun of the game. While some people would complain about the lack of movement, I chose a different path. I didn’t use the feature at all. It really was that simple. Don’t use it and you have all the fun of a classic Uncharted climbing section.
Then there are the Vita features you can’t skip, like the charcoal rubbings. Uncharted: Golden Abyss is full of collectibles, and some of these collectibles and required quest items are meaningless charcoal rubbings. When you find an artifact, you will have to rub the screen to make a charcoal imprint. There is no skill, it is not fun, and going as fast as possible will only bring on masturbation jokes from your companions. Thanks Sony. While the rubbing mini game is annoying, it doesn’t take too much away from the gameplay as it can be completed rather quickly when required. When you’re done with that you can get back to the best part of Uncharted: Golden Abyss–the combat.
Yes, you read that right, the best part of Uncharted: Golden Abyss is the combat. Unlike every other Uncharted game, the combat isn’t limited to arenas. Instead, you are usually working your way through paths and corridors, which means you don’t really get surrounded. This new combat setting also allows for a lot more stealth kills. Skulking through a level and sneakily killing everyone was a blast, and when you do have to pull out a weapon, it isn’t a chore like previous titles. On normal difficulty, enemies are not bullet sponges–they take a couple of shots and then they are down. Luckily, this change means more killing and less finding ammo. The difference in enemy fortitude may have been included to compensate for the Vita controls; it is more difficult to get head shots with the tiny sticks, but being able to kill easier makes up for it.
The only really disappointing thing about Uncharted: Golden Abyss is the locales. The game is long, you would expect for there to be lots on interesting settings, but almost every environment is in a jungle or cave. In fact, there seems to be a lot of recycling throughout the levels in general. Often you will play levels twice, once forward and once backwards. While this doesn’t ruin the excellent experience, it is a tad disappointing that there wasn’t a more grand adventure with more variety.
Overall, if you’re a fan of the Uncharted series, I would call this a must-play for Vita owners. While it doesn’t add much to the canon, it is a blast to play. If you’re not already a fan of Uncharted, I don’t see Uncharted: Golden Abyss changing your mind.