by Liam Edwards
reviewed on PSVITA
A nice refresher
Uncharted 2 is one of my favourite PlayStation titles ever. But after Uncharted 3 the excitement I had towards Golden Abyss waned, Uncharted 3 left me feeling weary of Uncharted games and rather bored of the series as a whole. Thankfully that feeling left and - as a prequel - Golden Abyss is a nice refresher, one that reminded me of my love for the series.
Golden Abyss takes place before Drake’s Fortune. We meet up with our wise-cracking yet highly knowledgeable protagonist Nathan Drake in the jungles of Central America. He is teamed up with a new character to the series, infamously named Dante. The story is typical Uncharted; Drake is risking his life in the search of wealth and treasures and is employed by Dante to help him understand a new dig site he has found. Unfortunately for Drake, Dante is a bit of a shady character and doesn’t let him in on the fact that the dig site happens to be on the land of General Guerro. This rather overweight general is a merciless leader and incompetent at the best of times, allowing Drake to escape easily almost every time he is captured.
Through Drake’s entanglement with Dante, he meets the young and mysterious Chase. She too teamed up with Dante in the hope to learn the secrets of the new dig site, continuing her grandfather’s work on it before his recent disappearance. As Drake unravels the secrets of the dig site, he and Chase travel on the trail of her grandfather, the story grows thicker and thicker in secrets. Drake shortly finds himself chasing the truth behind the seven guardians and the secret of the seven cities to heaven.
Bend studios have done well to create a storyline that fits right in with the original three games. Naughty Dogs’ special talent of twisting history and real-life stories of famous historical figures, into a mysterious secret plot has always fascinated me. I have long had an interest in historical mysteries and the Uncharted story lines have always intrigued me. Bend has done well to keep up with Naughty Dogs’ high standards in this respect.
A bite-sized Uncharted
If the first three Uncharted games are a movie trilogy, then Golden Abyss is the spin-off TV series, and this mentality shows throughout the whole game. From the voice acting to the set pieces, they are great in bursts but the smaller scale of everything clearly shows through. Nolan North’s usual expert performances are rather let down by some poorly written lines and cheesy dialogue between Drake and Chase, the line; “Those jeans fit you rather, well... nice” will forever stay in my mind as one of the worst lines in gaming.
The game is absolutely beautiful. The lush jungle foliage and bright sunny Central American setting shines fantastically on the Vita’s OLED screen. It is hard not to be taken aback by the wonderful landscape, and especially when Drake is positioned on top of a mountain range the view is just spectacular. On the flip side of this, sometimes textures can become blurry and upon closer inspection you can see where Bend have cut corners with the environments, but it doesn’t detract from the overall beauty of each environment within the game.
The set pieces that have become a staple to the Uncharted series are there, and are still fantastic, but they are few and far between. Golden Abyss is a split between the traditional climbing sections and the run&gun sequences against Uncharted’s typical spongy and rather moronic A.I.. Added in are some unique gameplay features such as using the touch screen to clean important artifacts and to complete charcoal rubbings of symbols. They are all interesting mechanics and nice little additions to the game, but after a while they become stale and over-used and you can notice the amount of times the game goes out of its way to bring you these sections.
A fantastic addition to the Uncharted series. Stunning visuals and portable!
Excessive use of lackluster alternative controls. Everything Uncharted, but on a smaller scale.