Uncharted: Golden Abyss

I think it’s fair to be said that there were very high expectations of Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Not long off the back of Uncharted 3 what were we to expect? Graphically, I wanted a lot from it, even if it was on a handheld. If I wasn’t going to play it on the big screen, would I be drawn into the story as much, or would it be likely that I just move onto the next title in the PS Vita’s long launch line? I also expected the same cheeky Nathan Drake and the war of words he seems to have with everyone because it played a huge part in my enjoying the previous Uncharted titles.

Nathan Drake, our cheeky and somewhat spawny protagonist, returns and as you would expect, gets drawn into another treasure hunt leading deep into caverns of Argentina. Jason Dante is an old but greedy friend of Nathan Drake and you’re teamed up with him at the start of the game. Jason doesn’t really stand of much of Nathan’s back chat and you can detect some friction from the start. Eventually, as the game pans out, you meet a girl called Chase. Well, her real name is Marissa but only her world famous archaeologist grandfather is allowed to call her that. Dante eventually gets dragged into some sinister activities with an evil army general known as Guerro and the story unfolds from there.

The characters, as you would expect, all have very individual and attractive personalities, making the story more compelling as you get into it. Chase, the innocent and pure, never carries a gun, Dante is all about the money and never really sides with anyone and Nathan Drake comes fully armed with intrepid and playful one liners. Lines said to Chase such as, ‘Those jeans… they fit well’ and other deliveries of fine lines can be expected throughout. The game almost jokes about itself with some of the comments which had me laughing out loud on a busy train of all places!

In my opinion some of the best dialogue comes not long after Sully, Nathan’s counsellor and coach, arrives on the scene. Boasting about historic female conquests and a game of ‘That’s what she said’ tennis had me chortling at every return.

All of this helps because Uncharted: Golden Abyss has a colossal amount of gameplay. Platforming, shooting, puzzling, to name just a few of your choices extends gamplay by a huge amount. With 34 chapters for the story it’s already epic but add onto that all the collectibles to find, secret areas to explore, charcoal rubbings to gather and much more, I’m sure you get the picture.

Not only that but the gameplay makes great, and unobtrusive, use of the new features of the PS Vita. Most of the additional controls are optional bar a few, giving you the option to stick to standard joystick and buttons or use of the rear and front touch screen. The rear touch screen can be used for ascending and descending ladders or ropes. The front screen can be used for slashing quick time events, opening combination locks or traversing walls or vines.

Climbing with the touch screen involves drawing lines across your screen forming a path for Nathan to follow. Often it’s the safest and best option because you reduce jumping and longer drops. The game does keep you safe, though, by not letting you use the drop button when there is nowhere to drop to. The same goes for shooting enemies when climbing walls and ropes. I ran out of ammo a couple of times but you are automatically given some ammo to tide you over until you reach a safer place.

Guns, guns, guns. More guns than you can shake a stick at. You can only carry two guns at a time and that includes one chunky weapon that can be anything like a Moss 12, M4, SAS 12 shotgun, a Dragon sniper or my favourite, the FAL and a handgun. These are also varied, going from a standard pistol to a ‘one shot’ WES 44. Add a sprinkling of explosives and and mini guns and you have enough arsenal to mow down a small army, which is exactly what you have to do.

There isn’t a huge variant in enemies but you do get a mix of close combat shotgun brutes, snipers, mini gun maniacs and general guys with handguns and assault rifles. Taking cover is something that they do well and occasionally they use different angles of approach and grenades to flush you out. Nothing too challenging but on the flip side of that, it’s not too easy either.

If there’s is anything that drags Uncharted: Golden Abyss down, its the format. Whilst the dialogue, visuals, choice of weapons and locations are excellent, the layout of the game has been slightly done to death. Archaeologist knows slightly twisted bad guy, goes on the hunt for hidden underground treasures, finds them then the bad guy comes in to take all the credit. We’ve seen it countless times through Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider but I supposed the question is, how do you come up with something original? There are countless mysteries in history that have been and are yet to be discovered but there comes a breaking point where these games will only be interesting to people who want to learn more about historical events.







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