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Uncharted: Golden Abyss
The PlayStation Vita may not have the best software lineup on the planet but it does have a solid contender in the form of Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Like its console brethren, it’s Sony’s perfect first party launch vehicle to showcase not only the graphical prowess of the Vita but other functions such as touch-screen and motion controlled gaming.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss isn’t a port of any of the older Uncharted games; it is in fact a stand-alone entry in this series. Nathan Drake as usual finds himself in the midst of beautiful yet mysterious women, age old mysteries, backstabbing companions, tons of bad dudes and of course, his mentor Sully. It’s the video game equivalent of a summer blockbuster and Golden Abyss nails down the pacing near perfectly as players are introduced to a diverse gamut of gameplay mechanics such as platforming, puzzle solving and of course, combat.
It does look this good
Fans of the series and Uncharted veterans will feel right at home with Golden Abyss. You’ll climb stuff, unlock puzzles to open ancient crypts, unravel hundred year old secrets and shoot armies of grunts using the game’s rather responsive gunplay mechanics. I was a bit apprehensive as to how combat would play out in this game but thanks to the Vita’s dual analogue stick, it’s the next best thing to your PlayStation 3 controller. Of course, it cannot offer the same accuracy as the PS3 controller but it comes damn close, an impressive feat considering a solid control scheme has always been the bane of portable gaming.
New to the Golden Abyss are a bunch of gameplay mechanics never seen before in an Uncharted game that somehow feel very natural to the entire experience. Of course none of these would have been possible on the PS3 due to the lack of any touch screen surface. At first mechanics like dusting the dirt off an old relic, cracking a safe or charcoal rubbing across white paper may feel a tad gimmicky but they’ve been implemented so well into the game, it feels very organic. There’s even a neat jigsaw puzzle inspired mini-game where you’ll have to arrange torn pieces of paper to decipher their meaning. Cool stuff. On the flip side, swiping your screen to open doors felt a bit forced and unnecessary.
I got you in my sight
The Uncharted series is well known for its cinematic set-pieces and Golden Abyss does hold its own very well considering its graphical limitations. In fact it does not really look like a handheld game. Developer Bend Studio have pulled out all stops in making Golden Abyss one of the most visually appealing games on the Vita right now. Character models are well detailed, environments are dripping with detail, texture work is solid and lighting is particularly impressive. The only aspect of presentation I didn’t care for was the lack of environmental diversity. There’s just jungle, jungle and more jungle. Considering previous PS3 games made players travel all over the globe, something besides a jungle setting would have been appreciated.
Besides stellar presentation and solid action, story is another crucial element of this series. It may be cheesy and predictable but it’s brought to life by solid voice actors who at this point in time seem very comfortable with their roles. In fact I was so engrossed in the story and chemistry shared between pivotal characters, I was never really bothered by the constant barrage of cut-scenes. In some games this may have felt like overkill but hearing Drake and Sully crack "That’s what she said" jokes made it all worth it. Steve Carell would have been proud.
Pick on someone your own size
To me, the worst part of Golden Abyss is its price. At Rs. 2799, it is without a doubt a very expensive investment, one that does not even offer multiplayer by the way. The game can be replayed a few times if you’re the collecting kind but I doubt many of you will head back into the campaign immediately just to collect all the in-game treasures. That being said, it is still a very well made game that packs in an entertaining (and fairly lenghty) campaign with all the terrific presentation values you've come to expect from the series. It's even more impressive that it does all this effortlessly on a hand-held console. If you do pick up PS Vita at launch, Golden Abyss is a no-brainer.