Uncharted: Golden Abyss: Go on a quest with Drake

March 2, 2012

When I first heard that Uncharted was coming to the Vita, I felt trepidation over how it would turn out. When I heard it was going to have touch and tilt controls, I decided that there was no way it would be able to compare to the console titles.

I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong.
Golden Abyss is a prequel of sorts, as it takes place before the events of the first Uncharted game on the PS3. After a short prologue, you’ll find yourself in the jungles of Central America with Dante, an associate of dubious character who brought Drake in to help him with an archaeological dig. As you’d expect when Drake is involved, things quickly get more complicated.

Uncharted feels at home on the Vita, thanks to the presence of two analog sticks. The control scheme should be familiar to any fans of the series, even with the new combination controls. You’ll never have to exclude any of the possible controls, so at any time you can choose to drag your finger across the screen to climb along the ledges, tilt the system to aim, or tap the screen to melee attack.

On the other hand, some things have to be done on the touch screen or via tilt. Picking up treasures, taking photos, opening locks and some aspects of the melee combat require touch screen tapping or swiping. Aiming with the sniper rifle or keeping balance on thin, slippery surfaces requires use of the tilt controls. As hesitant as I was to use or try them though, I have to say that I’m suitably impressed with them. Using a combination of tilt and analog stick aiming, I’ve become quite the headshot guru, and the swiping on the screen is responsive and spread out enough that it just feels like a natural part of playing the game.

Golden Abyss also changes up the usual treasure finding aspects of Uncharted. Rather than just having you search for random treasures, there are various ‘mysteries’ that you need to solve, each one requiring multiple items, treasures, puzzles, or photos to be found or solved. Not only does this lead to more interactivity with the environments, it also leads to more things to find and a greater feeling of accomplishment when you find all the parts of a mystery.

The graphics are very impressive for a portable system, and a few years ago would have been considered impressive for a console. It easily looks as good as Drake’s Fortune, with no issues with input lag or framerates. The audio is just as good as you would expect from an Uncharted game, with the soundtrack and ambient sounds brought to life through the Vita’s speakers.

If you’ve got a Vita already, there is no reason not to pick this up, and if you need a good reason to pick one up, then consider this your reason.

Pros: Great controls, great graphics, fun gameplay, good use of Vita specific controls
Cons: A few of the touch and tilt controls feel squeezed in for their own sake

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.