Date: 03-05-2012 18:18
Author: Mason King

PDC profile: Mason

Undoubtedly one of the most hyped-up launch titles for the Vita, Golden Abyss has finally been released onto the platform. Served as a portable title and developed by Bend Studio rather than Naughty Dog, can this game match the quality of its original PS3 trilogy?

Charted!


Golden Abyss starts off with a prologue chapter, which sets the scene by dropping Drake in a mysterious ancient ruins setting, getting gunned down by a lot of guys. This level is actually one youíll be revisiting around halfway through the game, but itís there to set the story in place, so players can get an idea on what theyíll be doing for the following 34 chapters of the game. Itís also in this Prologue that you get to meet one of the 4 main characters, called Dante. Heís your typical treasure hunter who only cares about the dough, and does what he can to make millions, even if it means hiring out an army. Drake will be working with him in the opening chapters, and luckily he does disappear for the majority of the game after that, since him as a character I found rather annoying. Chase is your female companion who you are helping throughout the game, and although not as likable as Chloe or Elena from the previous games, sheís certainly not awful, even if she does go on about her Grandfather every 5 seconds. An old friend from the previous games also joins Nate in his portable adventure at around the half way mark. I found the story to really pick up its pace after this point, and I ended up really enjoying the game. I personally found the story just as strong as Uncharted: Drakes Fortune.

Touch My Rear (touch pad)
Moving away from the story now so I donít spoil too much, and on to the game mechanics. Bend Studio has taken a lot of time in using most of the PS Vitaís unique abilities in the game, so whether itís climbing a rope with the back touch panel, or scaling a cliff with the touch screen, the game does get players using their newly purchased systems in a lot of different ways. One new control method I particularly enjoyed was the motion sensor sniping. Using the in-built compass and motion sensors, the Sniper Rifle in-game can be controlled by moving the system about to shoot down people, with zooming done by dragging your finger up and down on either of the touch pads. I found this to be fun, intuitive and more accurate compared to using the traditional analog method. Whatís even better though, is that most of these new control methods can be turned off in the settings menu, so the purists out there can stick to using the analog sticks to shoot their way through the whole game.

What I didnít like so much, however, was the new control methods that were forced upon the player. Some of these were bearable, such as using the touchscreen to wipe dirt off ancient artifacts, but the method I hated the most was the using the touch screen to swipe in directions at random points during the game. It caused many annoying deaths for me, since they appeared usually when climbing on a weak hold, or in a few brawl scenes (Think the opening of Uncharted 3 mixed with Heavy Rain). Inaccuracies in judging which way I swiped the screen at these moments usually meant a lot of untimely deaths for Nate, and grinding through scenes multiple times for no good reason. I think even a option to use the analog sticks for the movements instead of the touch screen would have been a good addition to the game.

Paparazzo
The graphics of Uncharted is the first thing that stands out to a lot of people when they first see the game, and they are very impressive. The vibrant colours of the jungle are brought to life thanks to the PS Vitaís remarkable OLED display, and impressive scenery props and visual effects makes the whole presentation even better. However, extended play time does bring out a few flaws in the games looks department. The game is up-scaled from a resolution of about 3/4 the display of the PS Vitaís screen, so the game can look a little blurry at times, which is a little disappointing, although it doesnít look as bad as the blurring in WipEout 2048. This is most likely as a result of Bend Studio trying to finish the game for the launch of the console, so things had to be prioritized. The other graphical problem was the jaggy lines on some objects, which is common around most games these days. Everything else was perfect though, as I experienced no slow down, no noticeable frame drops or torn frames, which was good.

The music and sound effects of the game is very much what you expect from an Uncharted game. Thankfully the returning characters in Golden Abyss were voiced by their original actors, which is good news for fans of the series, and made the game just as enjoyable. Music is the same kind of jungle sounds you would find in the first Uncharted, whilst the classic theme tune in the menus made a welcome return. Sound effects were also pleasant, ranging from the crashing of water falls to the clangs of shots fired from the games various weapons.

Relic Finder
There are no multi-player modes in Uncharted: Golden Abyss which I found disappointing, but expected. The only additional content from the main story then is an area called the Black Market, which is an area that displays all the treasures you collect through the main story of the game. There isnít much of a purpose of this Market other than to find what you need to earn some trophies. It literally just displays what treasure you have and havenít found throughout the game. What I found confusing with the Black Market though was the near trades. Near is the location sharing app built into the PS Vita itself, and you can trade treasures with this app to people around you to build up your collection faster. At least thatís the idea behind it, as I found the whole experience very confusing, and all Iíve managed to do is obtain a silver llama.

Once you have completed the game, there are a few things to do. The game has a few different difficulty modes, which gives it more re-playability. Then thereís the treasures, which will take a few play-throughs to find all of (unless you cheat and buy the 79p treasure map DLC). Trophies are also included as usual, with a Platinum up for grabs, as well as the usual assortment of Uncharted trophies such as Ď70 Kills with Weapon Xí or ĎComplete game on crushing difficultyí. I still feel like a multi-player mode would have been a good addition, especially with cross play with Uncharted 3 on the PS3.

Proof Of Life
Golden Abyss is, then, a brilliant game and is something all PS Vita owners should get at some point, especially for fans of the series. The price has been an issue for quite a few people, but this is still a brilliant Uncharted adventure not to be missed. Little things did annoy me such as the forced touch screen areas and the blur at some points in the game, but apart from that, the humour, fun and brilliant story has all been successfully carried over to the portable world. Hereís hoping for a sequel sometime in the near future...

Uncharted Golden Abyss was produced by Sony Bend Studio, with the series originally being created by Naughty Dog. It's out now as a PS Vita launch title, and is available as both a Physical and Digital copy. I played the physical card version of the game for over 15 hours before producing this review, completing the game and exploring various other features, as well as replaying chapters.




9/10
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