Uncharted: Golden Abyss review

Can Uncharted: The Golden Abyss help the PS Vita to win over mobile gamers?

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Uncharted the Golden Abyss

For

  • Stunning visuals
  • Fantastic story
  • Who doesn’t love Nathan Drake?

Against

  • Story length outlasts battery
  • Not best enjoyed in chunks
  • Some controls feel unintuitive

Uncharted: Golden Abyss Review: It brings the adventures of Nathan Drake to the Sony PS Vita in all their cinematic glory. Prepare to be overwhelmed...

Uncharted: The Golden Abyss stands front and centre in the Sony PS Vita’s launch line-up as the game Sony hopes to win over the mobile phone gaming crowd.

This is because Uncharted is a prime example of the deeper, richer and more immersive type of games that just aren’t available on smartphone, and which Sony hopes will prove to be the silver bullet when it comes to shifting PS Vita units

Uncharted The Golden Abyss: Characters

Of course, with Uncharted, the games’ protagonist Nathan Drake, plays a large part in these efforts. Due to the franchise’s strong writing and the sterling voice work provided by Nolan North, Drake has gone from a virtual unknown to one of the video games industry’s most beloved icons in just three games.

Uncharted The Golden Abyss: Plot

The Golden Abyss opens with Drake on the trail of some Spanish gold in Central America and partnered up with a shifty-looking soul named Dante. It’s not long before Dante sells Drake out to a homicidal military leader, and Drake finds himself escaping death on a regular basis.

Drake then teams up with a sassy female archaeologist called Chase, and the pair of them set out to find her grandfather, who disappeared while looking for the same treasure that Dante and Drake were after.

The is essentially high-adventure hi-jinx, as well as an excuse to hang exciting action set pieces on, but like all of the plots in the Uncharted games, it’s well written and filled with the snappiest lines of dialogue this side of Joss Whedon.

The game’s presentation is a fantastic showcase for the PS Vita capabilities; the environments look gorgeous, the characters are well drawn, and the occasional frame-rate slowing aside, the PS Vita handles the action on the screen without too many hitches.

Uncharted The Golden Abyss Gameplay

For the most part the game controls well, as Drake’s range of movements are mapped to the two thumbsticks and the face and shoulder buttons. However, perhaps in an attempt to force players to use the console’s full range of functionality, the developers have decided to assign certain controls to the PS Vita’s touchpads.

In some instances, they are fun to use, such as when Drake discovers a new clue or needs to take a charcoal etching, and players accomplish these tasks by wiping their fingers across the screen.

However, this interface doesn’t work nearly as well when Drake is in combat or having to time a pretty tricky jump. In these instances, relying on the touchpads is a chore, not least because they sometimes misread the player’s movements.

This is made all the more annoying by the fact that there’s really no need for these mechanics to be mapped to the touchscreens other than to show off the PS Vita’s features. It’s also worth pointing out that the game outlasts the console’s battery life by some length, and like most hardcore gaming experiences, it doesn’t really go down well in small chunks.

Uncharted The Golden Abyss: Verdict

Uncharted The Golden Abyss is a fantastic game and can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of the Uncharted series with ease. If you own a PS Vita, it almost goes without saying that this is an essential purchase, and if you’re the sort of player who wants a deeper gaming experience than what’s on offer in Angry Birds, The Golden Abyss is well worth investigating.

Whether Sony is right and this is the type of game that will woo smartphone gamers over to their console remains to be seen. What’s clear for the moment, is that Uncharted The Golden Abyss is one of the best games we’ve seen released so far this year.

Uncharted: The Golden Abyss availability: 22 February 2012

Uncharted: The Golden Abyss price: £39.99