Review by imagine606
"Uncharted Strikes Big As a Portable Game"
I was very skeptical when making this purchase. The week before I purchased my Vita and this game along with it I had played through the entire Uncharted trilogy on the PS3. As someone who has played through all of the games multiple times, I am a huge fan of the series. However, even as someone who isn't too big on graphics, one of the things that is the most enticing about this series is how beautiful all of the games are. Of course, it's the gameplay and easy controls that also make this such a great series as well as the great voice acting and lineup of characters.
With Golden Abyss I was unsure. I knew that there were going to be new characters in the game, which really isn't anything too new since Uncharted 2 had new villains, as did Uncharted 3. The villains in each of the first 3 games were very easy to hate, so I was pretty sure that would be the case with this game as well. My big question before playing (I did not going in knowing what characters were going to be in this game other than Nate and probably Sully).
Early on you're going around with Jason Dante, another explorer type who's clearly all about money and nothing else. He seems to be your friend, but he's also a character that is very easy to hate, as he is...well, annoying. Anyway, you continue on for a while before you meet up with Marisa Chase. After a short time with her you realize that she is the female support in the game (sorry, no Chloe or Elena). She does a great job in the role though, and by the end you really begin to like her as a female supporting character. As a whole the characters in the game are very well done. Nate is Nate, and you know what to expect from him, Sully is Sully and you know what to expect from him. Those two characters (Nate and Sully) are every bit as fun as they are in the other games of the series. Chase makes a great sidekick type of character in the game, and she takes along with her some new things. For instance, she refuses to use a gun to kill anyone (or kill any enemies in general).
The look of the game was very impressive to me. It's not quite Playstation 3 graphics, but it really isn't all that far behind. The landscapes are still stunningly beautiful. There's very good detail to all of the graphics. I'd easily put the graphics above the last generation consoles like Gamecube, PS2, and XBox. Above what you see on the Wii, and very close to what you see on PS3 and 360. It all really looks great, better than what I had expected to see.
The controls on here are one of the things that I was unsure of. How would the control system from the other Uncharted games translate over to a portable system, one with only two shoulder buttons as opposed to 4? Well, outside of that difference in the controllers there isn't much of a change. Also, the touch screen does a great job in taking care of that. For instance, with grenades you just tap the grenade icon on the lower right portion of the screen and drag it to where you want it to go. It's actually easier than on the consoles (especially 1). There were really only 2 things that I had to get used to. The first was just the overall feel of the Vita. Since it's a portable system, the buttons are closer together and the joysticks (or whatever anyone wants to call them) are much smaller. The other thing is kind of a 2 part thing, but one thing in general, and that's the touchscreens. The front one you had to get used to just in the case of using it. Luckily the sequences where you do use it are pretty straight forward. There are interactive cut scenes, but they're all pretty simple, the commands are right in the middle of the screen, they all involve the front screen, and they don't take away from the actual scene at all, as it's still very easy to watch them. Also, they're not extremely common at all unless you consider sliding your finger up the screen when Nate starts to slip on a handhold to be one. As for the back touchscreen, the toughest thing with it was getting used to not touching it. I own a 3DS and have owned a DS Lite for a long time as well (so touchscreens are nothing new to me either), and I'm used to stretching my hands out on the back of those, but I couldn't do that here. However, it's something that you get used to easily and quickly, although you may slip up from time to time. Oh, and there's one more thing, but I don't really consider it to be anything worth much mention since it's optional for the most part, but tilting the Vita to jump from ledge to ledge is something I can see being a problem for some, but like I said, for the most part anything that involves tilting is totally optional. The only cases where it isn't is when you have to use it for balance, which happens several times in the game, but is in no way a major part of the game either. Overall, the controls are very easy to figure out and work great for the game.
The sound in the game is outstanding. I really was impressed with the detail in the sound, but I guess that's really nothing new for portable systems. Still, it was very nice. Also, the voice acting came out just as good as it would have if it was a console game. I'll also take this chance to say again that the voice acting was done very well. For the returning characters it was the same person doing the voice, so that's expected, but the other characters had the perfect people doing their voices and it all came out very well. To make things better, Chase is voiced by an old childhood crush of mine, Christine Lakin, who played Al Lambert in the TGIF sitcom Step by Step. She's also been on Family Guy lately, but I'll always know her as Al Lambert. Anyway, just wanted to say all of that there.
Moving on, the gameplay as a whole is just plain fun. The story is very good, the controls are well done, the characters were all very well done and casted, The graphics are great and I'm impressed with the sound as well. The game itself is just a very good game. The only negative things I have to say are that some of those things could have been better. They were good, but not always great. Also, the game itself kind of felt like it was a "getting your feet wet" on the Vita type of thing. I thought certain things could have used some of the unique control options a little more and a little more intricately without feeling like a gimmick. Still though, if that's all I have to gripe about then the move to portable for the Uncharted series has really been done very well. This is a very good game, and if you already have a Vita I'd highly recommend it. If you don't have a Vita yet, I'll never tell anyone to get a $250 device for a single game, but as the library builds up for games, this is a game that you can put towards a reason to get a Vita.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/01/12
Game Release: Uncharted: Golden Abyss (US, 02/15/12)
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