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Uncharted: Golden Abyss Review

This is a discussion on Uncharted: Golden Abyss Review within the Game Reviews forum, part of the Trophy Guides, Reviews & Articles; Uncharted: Golden Abyss Review By JackAttack Basic Information: Developer: SCE Bend Studios Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment North American Release Date: ...

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    Uncharted: Golden Abyss Review

    Uncharted: Golden Abyss Review
    By JackAttack


    Basic Information:
    Developer: SCE Bend Studios
    Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
    North American Release Date: February 12, 2012
    European Release Date: February 22, 2012
    Trophies: Yes, 48 | 5 | 2 | 1


    Overview

    The Uncharted franchise is arguably the most popular and successful Playstation exclusive. Boasting amazing graphics, sound design, musical score, gameplay, character development, and more, Uncharted is certainly a whole package. With the release of the Vita, Golden Abyss is easily the most hyped game coming out for the device. But can Golden Abyss live up to the standards set by its console brethren, on a portable outing?

    Gameplay

    Despite not being developed by Naughty Dog themselves, it's obvious that Golden Abyss is unmistakably an Uncharted game. If you've played any of the other three games on the PS3, then you'll feel right at home here. Gameplay is once again split up into different types. You have your average third-person shooter that's based around taking cover, some climbing and traversal segments, puzzle solving, and some very basic exploration elements. All of these things come together to create one flowing piece of gameplay. Climbing segments transition perfectly into shooting, and so on to create a game that feels natural while you're playing it.

    As far as the shooting aspects of the game go, the Uncharted franchise is known for being solid in every which way. Unfortunately, thanks to some wonky controls Golden Abyss fails to reach those standards. Aiming is done by both moving the right analog stick towards your target, as well as a new feature that utilizes the Vita's motion controls to further fine-tune the aiming by tilting the device. While a decent, innovative idea, I found it exceedingly frustrating to try to aim by both balancing the device in a perfect manner, as well as use the analog stick to get the reticle in a good position.


    Climbing and traversal are actually one of the Golden Abyss' highlights.

    Further hindering this is the enemy AI. In true Uncharted fashion, enemies are rather jumpy, popping in and out of cover randomly, and also moving all over the place as you shoot to try to dodge your bullets Matrix-style. On the consoles, this was more of a slight annoyance than an actual problem, but on the Vita where it's already difficult enough to just shoot where you want to, this becomes a serious frustration. I eventually just found myself spraying and praying - holding down R1 and running around hoping for some bullets to land.

    On the contrary, climbing sections are nice breaks from the frustration of the gunplay, and while they are neither difficult nor exciting, they do offer up a decent bit of fun. These portions of the gameplay fully utilize the hardware of the Vita. Instead of just mashing the X button in order to climb, you also have the option of using the back panel to climb ropes, and the touch screen to 'draw' your path of traversal. These unique touches add depth to what was previously a very lame climbing system.

    Puzzles are back once again, and while they aren't as prominent as in the PS3 titles, the lack of puzzles keeps the tension high and the adrenaline rushing. Most consist of the same sort of stuff you'll find in the console versions, although for some reason you'll be doing a lot of charcoal rubbings, which consists of wiping the touchscreen repeatedly until you've created an image. Additionally, smaller puzzles are found littered around the levels for you to pick them up and solve them on your own. Nearly all puzzles utilize the Vita's touch screen functionality, which is definitely nifty at the beginning, but these actions become all the more tedious after you've rubbed charcoal on paper for the 20th time. Treasures can also be found scattered throughout the world. This encourages you to explore despite the fact that it is difficult to stray away from the central path.

    Singleplayer

    The Uncharted franchise has always been tagged as, "Indiana Jones with guns," and the story and feel to the game really represent this. Once again we step into the shoes of treasure hunter and hero Nathan Drake in a prequel to the current PS3 trilogy. While the story is barely connected to any of the others on the series, certain tones and parts of the plot are reminiscent of past experiences with Uncharted, despite the fact that Amy Hennig did not write the story this time around.

    In Golden Abyss, Drake finds himself teaming up with wise-cracking New Yorker James Dante, as well as love interest Marisa Chase as the trio race against antagonist Roberto Guerro in order to find (yet another) lost city. Is the actual story lame? Yes. To be honest, I've taken up the role of Drake to find a lost city four times now, and it's just getting old. However, character development is where the Uncharted franchise has always found its success. Does Golden Abyss do the same? Well, yes and no.


    Drake is accompanied by two new characters, Dante and Chase, this time around.

    I really love how Drake is portrayed in this game, as we see a whole different and altogether darker side to him. If I had a nickel for every time a gun was pulled on Nate in a cutscene, I'd be rich. So it was to my greatest excitement to see this situation flipped more than once. Drake is still our great, every-man hero, but that doesn't mean he can't flirt with getting his hands dirty here.

    However, the supporting cast just doesn't live up to my expectations of how Uncharted characters are developed. Marisa Chase is an interesting character, but she feels shallow. For instance, she makes it clear that she doesn't want to even touch a gun, but it's never explained why. Heck, even Nate is frustrated with the lack of information about her in the beginning! Unlike Elena, who I really felt I got to know as a character, Chase ultimately feels like your average damsel in distress. Dante, on the other hand, feels like a thoroughly fleshed out character, despite us not spending nearly as much time with him. In addition, we do find ourselves with a familiar face for the second half of the game, which is a really nice and comforting aspect that I really enjoyed.

    One area where Golden Abyss truly shows off one of its largest downfalls is in excitement. The story never gets me riled up, the main antagonist never feels more than some fat Hispanic dude with a gun, and the extreme lack of over the top action makes for a much more boring experience than what we've come to expect from an Uncharted game. While there are some moments where the action picks up and things get exciting, we don't see anything even close to the level of the train sequence in Uncharted 2, or the plane sequence in Uncharted 3. When all else fails, the over the top action has always saved Uncharted from being a dull experience, and seeing how that element isn't present here, the subpar parts of the game really stick out.

    Technical


    Golden Abyss could be considered a technical achievement on many levels. Despite being on a handheld, the graphics are absolutely gorgeous. Better than PS2 graphics while not touching PS3 graphics, Golden Abyss is a prime example of just what the Vita is capable of. Characters look great, environments are lush with color, and even effects like water look amazing.


    The flabbergasting sense of scope is retained, despite being shrunk down to fit the Vita.

    Nolan North reprises his role as Nathan Drake, and the new cast members are equally as good, matching Nolan's performance. In addition, Uncharted's famous musical score is back, and it once again awakens the treasure hunter in all of us. The score quickly comes once a battle starts to brew, setting a perfect tone for shootouts and high-adrenaline moments. There are also a few times when heated music starts to play randomly in the background, even as you're doing simple things such as climbing when no enemies are around. I found this to be very jarring, but too big of a deal since it doesn't happen often.

    A major gripe I had with the presentation is that there simply aren't many locals that you'll find yourself going to. Since the entire game takes place in Panama, there isn't a lot of room for creativity. Expect to see a lot things similar to that of the jungles from Drake's Fortune. That's said, what's here is done to perfection, and asking for much more on a handheld is just being nitpicky.

    Trophies

    It seems the guys over at SCE aren't very creative with their trophies, because they're literally exactly the same as the ones for the three console Uncharted games. Expect having to find all treasures and solve all 'mysteries,' as well as getting a certain amount of kills with each type of gun and beating the game on crushing. Don't expect it to be a fun plat to get, the trophies are very uninspired.

    Closing Thoughts

    At the end of the day, Golden Abyss is an impressive game that's just simply lacking the wow factor we've grown to expect from the Uncharted franchise. If you can look past the wonky aiming, subpar story, and lack of excitement, you'll find that Golden Abyss has some wonder and enjoyment in it. Golden Abyss is rough around the edges, but it still manages to thoroughly impress.

    Gameplay: 6/10
    Wonky aiming controls extremely hinder the shooting experience, and puzzles feel very repetitive. However, the overall experience can still be enjoyed.

    Singleplayer: 7/10
    The story itself is lacking, and character development isn't as good as it's been, but we see a new and much more interesting side to Drake here.

    Technical: 10/10
    A true technical achievement, I never knew a portable device could be capable of such stellar graphics, and the musical score and voice acting further add to this. Want a game to fully show off your new Vita? Look no further.

    Overall: 7.5/10 Good
    Last edited by Gauss; 02-27-2012 at 08:44 AM.

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    Great review! This makes me want it more!

    I want a vita so badly but there's no way I could get it with the $ I got now.... oh well.

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    Good review. That's about what I would give it. I'd like to see someone beat this without aim assist. The on screen arrow prompts and and the gyro sensor pop up when you had to balance just make me want to facepalm every time. Also the story is not nearly as fun or memorable or even humorous as the PS3 series.

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    You just have to max out the sensitivity of both your aiming and motion sensor movements, then aiming is a lot easier. I thought aiming by moving the Vita was a lot of fun. It did make a few spots of the game needlessly difficult though, like when you're climbing the rope in chapter 18. On Crushing, that was hard, and the controls are to blame.


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    Great review, now its a game I will purchase when I get Vita when the price drop happens.

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    I'm half and half with the review. I feel that looking at the game itself and the system it's on I would give it a 9/10. If I was comparing it to the PS3 Uncharted games a 7.5 seems fair.

    My main problem is that Drake seems to sometimes do thing I don't control him to do.

    Also, I find the puzzles in the Uncharted games to be boring/repetitive. I only like a select few. One of the few I like is in Golden Abyss.

    EDIT: I'm almost doen my 3rd playthrough and am still enjoying every second of the game.
    1st Place - VITA Trophy Guide of the Year, 2012 - Uncharted: Golden Abyss

    2nd Place - CB Personality of the Year, 2011

    2nd Place - DLC Trophy Guide of the Year, 2011 - Call of Duty: Black Ops Rezurrection



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    Quote Originally Posted by antoniosbandana View Post
    You just have to max out the sensitivity of both your aiming and motion sensor movements, then aiming is a lot easier. I thought aiming by moving the Vita was a lot of fun. It did make a few spots of the game needlessly difficult though, like when you're climbing the rope in chapter 18. On Crushing, that was hard, and the controls are to blame.
    Cheers fot the tip. I started to hate it but I have started to play again.
    Good review bang on agree with you on all of it tbf

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    I thought you would address the forced swipes. I thought they detracted from the experience, just slowing the action to a crawl, and resulting in stiff animations, which Uncharted isn't known for. Other than that great review.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Digitalman123 View Post
    I thought you would address the forced swipes. I thought they detracted from the experience, just slowing the action to a crawl, and resulting in stiff animations, which Uncharted isn't known for. Other than that great review.
    I'm curious how much of that swiping is Naughty Dog being forced to include the extra functionality.

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    Nice review! I've bought this already but haven't actually played it yet, as UC3 is still fresh in my memory, so I thought I'd play some of my other Vita purchases first. I'm especially thankful for antonios' tip on the sensitivity. I can skip the aiming frustration brought up in the review now, hopefully.

    Also, off-topic, is this one like UC3, where you only have to beat the game once to unlock Crushing, or is it like the first two, where you have to beat Hard mode first?

    PS> EXTREMELY off-topic, but I just noticed, as of this post, Breakpoint and I currently have the exact same Post/Rep stats. That is freaking weird.

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    Am I the only one who loved it? Even liked the touch controls and sixaxis. I would give it a 9/10, and I liked it more than U3 at the very least.

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    Quote Originally Posted by antoniosbandana View Post
    You just have to max out the sensitivity of both your aiming and motion sensor movements, then aiming is a lot easier. I thought aiming by moving the Vita was a lot of fun. It did make a few spots of the game needlessly difficult though, like when you're climbing the rope in chapter 18. On Crushing, that was hard, and the controls are to blame.
    Man, I have lost count of how often I've tried that effing rope climbing in chapter 18 and lost. And that is on Hard, not Crushing!

    I'll definitely have to try your tip - I haven't played the game in a month because I got so sick of that scene.

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    A similar score to what I gave (8/10). I actually did enjoy using the gyro to aim most of the time, however I think the forced swipe and balancing parts could of been replaced by a button push. Apart from those two I really liked using the touch screen controls for pretty much everything else. Ive just started my second playthrough on hard, and I must say I thinkk the enemy AI is not as difficult as compared to the console one, but it being a handheld matches the difficulty.

    A great review though, I enjoyed reading it.

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    The Vita really doesnt look that great to me..

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    Believe me Vita is very good AR , multiple touch pads , great app support in future , nice start games , nice upcoming games , ps3 compatibility , skype/facebook it's more than you could ask from handheld..
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    I had a massive amount of fun with this game, the Aiming controls were perfect.
    I had no big problems with the game except for the 'not really there' story development

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    Giant Bomb summed it up for me:


    "Uncharted: Golden abyss is a Made-for-Cable version of Uncharted"


    giant bomb is usually right for some reason.


    except patrick, he's a asshole.
    Last edited by Ps360; 03-04-2012 at 03:54 AM.




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    Quote Originally Posted by DoomDash View Post
    Am I the only one who loved it? Even liked the touch controls and sixaxis. I would give it a 9/10, and I liked it more than U3 at the very least.
    I like GA a lot more than UC3. Yeah its less "wow" but its a lot more legit than just over the top action movie, kind of like the first (if you ask me uncharted 1 is the only good uncharted game)
    I don't own a PS3 anymore because my games of gaming have come to an end...

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    I just loaded my copy up tonight, I picked up a Vita around ten days ago due to the 3G launch package being so appealing for the same price as just a 3G system. I got Lumines, Fifa and UC, I haven't been able to put down Lumines very often, it's one of my all-time favorite games and the Vita version is very well done, as you have the option of using the front touchscreen (awful for that game) or just the left stick and face buttons or triggers. I tried Fifa a few days back and got hooked on that, it's very well done as well and a ton of fun to play. I finally forced myself to put the UC card in today and try it out, as it was one of the games that sold the system for me. I think it's fantastic, though I'm admittedly only around 3-4 hours in. I found the gun controls a bit difficult at first, then adjusted my sensitivity as it seemed like it would be a reasonable way of improving it, and I've been in love with it since. The graphics are definitely nice, better than a lot of the best looking games I have on my iPad2, which surprised me. Lumines has gorgeous sound and brilliant flashes of color, but it's no graphical powerhouse...Fifa looks quite good, I can always spot Wayne Rooney and its easy to tell who all of the Manchester United players are..UC just blew me away, I wasn't expecting my new handheld toy to look half as good as it does. Sure, it's not at PS3 level, but it kills ps2 graphics and they managed to keep it small & light enough to keep in a case and toss in my messenger bag whenever I go out. That's the pleasant surprise for me - my PSP gathered dust most of the time, aside from when FF Tactics and Tactics Ogre came out, and now I can easily play them as much as I care to on my Vita, I didn't even lose my saves.

    So, at any rate, I just wanted to chime in with the reasons I love my Vita and UC, as many people seem very negative about both.

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    Somehow, a realisation has crept up on me during my first playthrough of GA, Uncharted has become one of my favorite series ever. Golden Abyss is on a par with the previous entries.

    The story isn't as showy as Uncharted 2 or 3 but superior to the wonky first game. Drake, Dante and you know who are all well realised and provide the back and forth banter that is embedded in all Uncharted titles.
    The Vita controls are more help than hindrance, the swiping, rubbing, tapping and tilting are the defining feel of this being a handheld experience and stamping a unique identity on a tried and tested formula, more Vita games that play like this and Gravity Rush will only help serve the system.

    I would gladly welcome another Uncharted game on Vita or a Jak and Daxter. ( please )

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