First Impressions: Uncharted Golden Abyss (Vita)

Without a doubt Uncharted Golden Abyss is the biggest launch game for the PS Vita. Of course, as you would expect from an Uncharted game, it is visually stunning. The story is gripping and the dialogue and characters are both entertaining and perfectly scripted. What is not to love about Golden Abyss?

I’ve got carried away with Golden Abyss these past few days and have gradually made my way through the story. I thought it was high time to share my initial thoughts.

First of all the game looks fantastic. I am lost for words at how it is even possible for a game to look so good on such a small device. The environments consist of lush jungles and ancient temples and in every case the textures and presentation are beautiful. It is easily on par with the capabilities of the PS3. However, there are a few sharps edges to its visuals. Distant areas look clunky and in the background birds stutter as they fly through the air. Up close animation of the characters are also lacking in terms of polish as the faces just don’t look right. There are only a few minor hiccups but they don’t detract from the main experience.

As mentioned Golden Abyss mainly takes place in lush jungles. Something we haven’t seen that much of since Drakes Fortune. In fact Golden Abyss feels a lot like the first Uncharted game. For instance Drakes clothing looks like it is from the first game and the main gameplay is similar to that from Drakes Fortune. This cannot be considered a bad thing though and Drakes first adventure was without a doubt a marvellous game.

The main story is well written. Take a note this is a prequel to the first game. The game starts with Nate finding himself traversing the perilous cliffs of a Latin American jungle with a friend of his called Dante. Of course, both are on the search for ancient ruins and treasure in the cliffs. Almost immediately, in Uncharted style, things start to go out of hand and you find yourself in the middle of a gun fight. As the story progresses the many ancient myths and legends are heavily touched upon including Cibola, The seven fathers and the Sete Cidades. Along with a female companion called Chase you embark on an adventure in search of treasure whilst fighting your way past a formidable warlord that’s goes by the name of General Guerro. It makes for a gripping story and one which you will literally not want to put down.

The classic third person shooter gameplay returns. However, on the Vita it doesn’t feel as smooth. The aiming is a little clunky and is really difficult to get used to with the smaller analogue sticks. The reticule is always moving around too due what I presume is heavy breathing from Nate. This constant movement of the reticule is something I have never experienced in Uncharted before and is actually quite frustrating. Aiming in with a sniper is also a difficult action as any movement of your actual Vita will send the zoom gauge into a frenzy of zooming in and back out. The back touch screen also has something to do with this. Whatever it is it I don’t like it at all. Apart from that the shooting is solid and the cover system works great.

The climbing and plat forming sections are just as good as ever. The climbing is simple and smooth. Also the Vita’s touch screen comes into great use. You can tap on the desired object you want Nate to jump on or climb up and he will do it automatically for you. It is a nice small change to the climbing and allows you to adopt a new style of climbing gameplay.

The touch screen has been implemented quite heavily into Golden Abyss. For example, in certain parts of combat you need to swipe your finger on the screen to complete a melee move. In other areas the touch screen is used to take charcoal rubbings and clean artefacts which are directly involved in the story. At first they are quite fun to complete but after a few they become slightly tedious. The sixaxis function of the Vita is also used in certain sections of the game – one particular level it is used in is really exciting!

So far I am really enjoying Golden Abyss. It is a fantastic feeling to be able to have the complete Uncharted experience on such a small portable device. There are notable issues such as the aiming and lack lustre facial animations but the breathtaking visuals and gripping story completely outweigh these negatives. I recommend this game to all Vita owners and I myself am looking forward to reaching the climax of the game and unravelling the story.