It is no secret that I am a huge Uncharted fan and can’t get enough of jumping and grappling on glowing ledges while murdering half of the world’s mercenary population as Nathan Drake.
That said, I had some reservations about the series going portable. I was concerned about how the series’ trademark cinematic style would hold up on the small screen. The title not coming directly from Naughty Dog also didn’t reassure me that a portable Uncharted would work. Would the new developers veer away from the classic formula and litter the game with gimmicky touch screen controls?
Fortunately, after spending 10 minutes with the game I could clearly see that Sony Bend did the series justice and I needn’t be concerned about if Uncharted on a portable could be done.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss is a prequel to the popular series on the PS3 and follows a young but already seasoned treasure hunting Nathan Drake on one of his exciting adventures. The rest of the cast is brand new, apart from an old friend that series fans will no doubt recognize. He may have less gray hair but he still has the same terrible shirts and jokes.
The story follows Drake who is working for his old but shady friend, Jason Dante as they search for treasure in the forests and ruins of Central America. During their adventure they meet Marisa Chase, an associate of Dante. Drake soon learns that there is more to the story when they cross paths with, as they often turn out to be, a crazy war lord intent of getting his hands on the same treasure he is after. Admittedly the story is not as deep as previous entries of the series but it has enough twists and turns to keep you going for more.
The Uncharted series has since its inception raised the visual bar higher and higher with each iteration. Obviously being on the less powerful Playstation Vita it never stood a chance to match, let alone outclass its console brethren but I have to admit, it looks amazing for a portable game and it certainly sets the standard for what can be achieved on the Vita. The beautiful cinematics, the sweeping vistas, the amazing panoramas, everything is there and works amazingly smooth.
Sound-wise, the game delivers the usual high quality voice acting we have all come to expect from the series. The random banter during gameplay is all there, the cutscene sequences are delivered with the same expressive and emotional quality we saw in the previous games and together with the minimalistic score delivers a convincing and gripping performance.
Gameplay is the standard fare you expect from the Uncharted franchise. There is platforming and shooting galore. Everything works very well because of the Vita’s button layout, with the added bonus of extra methods of control in the form of touch screen controls for traversing obstacles and ledges, melee combat and puzzle solving. The Vita’s gyroscope is used very effectively as a means to aim your weapon when in first person mode. Getting head shots with the sniper rifle never felt so satisfying before. I can pleasantly say that my fears of gimmicks ruining the gameplay flow were unfounded. Bar for few exceptions I never felt forced to swipe the screen or turn the portable around unnecessarily.
As I said before Uncharted: Golden Abyss has set the bar for what can be achieved on the Vita, both visually and gameplay-wise offering a true console experience on the go. It is one of the must have’s on the portable and should be in the collection of every Uncharted fan out there.
Overall Rating: 8/10
Written By Jacob Goodall