Customer Review

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5.0 out of 5 stars Uncharted: Golden Abyss - What Uncharted 3 SHOULD have been!, May 3, 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
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This review is from: Uncharted: Golden Abyss - PlayStation Vita (Video Game)
Let me start off by saying that this is my first product review. I enjoyed this game immensely that I had to write a review about it.

I had skepticism about this title because it was being developed by Bend Studios, rather than their parent developer, Naughty Dog. Uncharted 3 underwhelmed me quite a bit, so I didn't have very high expectations for this game. I'm happy to report that I was DEAD WRONG about the quality of this video game. This is what Uncharted 3 should have been.

I don't know what Naughty Dog was thinking when they made Uncharted 3. Uncharted 3 seemed to lack what made Uncharted... Uncharted in the first place. The sarcastic exchanges between Drake and Sully, the lightheartedness, the sassy female co-star, etc. Basically what I am trying to point out is that Uncharted 3 was depressing and most of the settings, sans the cruise ship, were bland and devoid of any vibrance. Naughty Dog made a masterpiece in Uncharted 2, so I believe the expectations were too high for Uncharted 3. Nothing more could be done to improve the Uncharted franchise...

That was until Bend Studios came in to the picture. Naughty Dog should thank Bend Studios for making this wonderful game and revitalizing Uncharted. I am here to spread the word about this game. I fear that the recognition that this game deserves will be overlooked because most people are probably putting off buying the Playstation Vita.

Let's talk about gameplay. What's new?

The "treasure" system has been totally revamped. In the previous installments, treasures were simply collectibles hidden throughout the game. In Golden Abyss, the treasures you find can be categorized in several different ways. Instead of simply picking up a treasure, you can find a surface to make a charcoal rubbing on, which later can be used as a puzzle piece to create a new image. Like photographs? Drake is equipped with a camera and it's your job to find the locations in his journal and try to replicate the sample photograph to the best of your ability. Each photograph is graded with a percentage. Drake needs a grade of 95% or higher for the image to be saved in his notebook. The "examining items" feature present in past video games has been expanded on in Uncharted: Golden Abyss: Along with being able to rotate an object, you can now use the touch screen to wipe away dirt that is currently on the treasure you have found to unlock hidden clues. Some treasures come in the form of ripped up posters, documents, photographs, etc. and it is your job to reassemble the image. Who doesn't like jigsaw puzzles? Lastly, there are traditional treasures, like in the previous Uncharted games, but are categorized in to different sets.

If there were a mistake Bend made with this game, it would be the "bounties". Some enemies drop treasures when killed. Some rare, some scared and some common. I don't think I need to elaborate much on this. This will require a lot of grinding or trading using the "NEAR" feature on the Vita. This was basically an added gameplay feature to make use of the Vita's applications. I can appreciate the developers utilizing Vita's special features as much as possible, except when trophies are tied in to it. I'm not entirely sure how the Black Market works. All I got to say is good luck finding someone who will boost with you. Otherwise, simply grinding it out is an option.

If you're curious about what "Mysteries" are, mysteries are unique sets of treasures that can contain any combination of artifacts, photographs, charcoal rubbings, etc. that span across multiple chapters. Basically what you find is "evidence" that leads up to an ultimate conclusion. Think of a completed mystery as a substory. It's not necessary for the advancement of the main plot, but it's there for those of us who like to feel we got our money's worth.

There are some new gameplay mechanics that make use of the Vita's hardware:
Holding up the Vita against a bright light to see what's on a piece of paper - VERY COOL
Paddling/rowing canoes and boats - brand new to the Uncharted series
Balance beams - forces Drake to maintain his balance using the sixaxis motion sensing
Bamboo/tarp cutting - Drake carries a machete with him that he can use to cut down bamboo and tarps to reveal hidden paths or treasures

Climbing has also been revamped. You can climb up ropes using the back motion sensors. I don't particularly like this feature because too much rubbing causes friction, and friction causes heat, and I don't like the sensation of my fingers burning against the rear of my Vita. Same goes for the charcoal rubbings. From what I can tell, it's also impossible to go down using the same controls in reverse. You can also trace a path for Drake to go on the touch screen. I guess it can save time, but I still prefer to move Drake the old-fashioned way.

Boss fights are administered using the quick-time-event format. I like it. I think it works because Drake can now fist fight the bosses rather than kill his personal entourage and have that be considered the final battle. Simply follow the arrow on the screen. I say simply, but I know it can't be that simple, especially on higher difficulties.

Now, the one thing that really bothered me the get-go was the aiming. I didn't realize it until I was nearly 2/3rds done with the game that precise aiming is actually done with the Vita itself. Trying to get your crosshair precisely where you want it with the analog sticks is impossible. If it isn't impossible, then you're a gaming god. However, the developers didn't intend for the player to get headshots using the analog sticks. This is the Vita we're talking about. I'm so used to playing on a Dualshock 3 that I frustrated myself trying to play the Vita like it's a Dualshock 3. Once I realized I could adjust the crosshair by swaying the Vita around in my hands, I was able to execute headshots better than I could using a Dualshock 3.

The controls were done properly, once I understood them fully.

To summarize, there are many great things about this game. This game is what I felt Uncharted 3 should have been. This game has the charm of the original Uncharted. Perhaps it's a nostalgic seeing lush, green foliage rather than snow and sand. Since this game is a prequel, I felt like I could relate this Drake more to the Drake of Uncharted 1. At the time, he wasn't somebody we knew much about. Even in the face of danger, he still found a way to make us laugh with his sarcastic comments. Uncharted is supposed to be silly and entertaining. As the series has progressed, things have become more dramatic. In Golden Abyss, everything just felt like they did before Uncharted was a sensation everyone placed high expectations on the developers to create a new masterpiece.

I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting, but this game is a masterpiece in my book. I definitely have it up there next to Uncharted 2. If Uncharted 3 received any Game of the Year awards, then this game deserves that many and many times more because this game just has SO much more to offer - story, exploration, graphics (yes, I think the graphics are more appealing than sand, rust, reds, browns and whites), controls, humor and enjoyment.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 4, 2012 2:06:24 PM PST
mjc0961 says:
"Balance beams - forces Drake to maintain his balance using the sixaxis motion sensing"

That's not new, Uncharted 1 did that.

Posted on Jun 3, 2013 12:34:07 AM PDT
i wish you wouldn't have attacked Uncharted 3 in order to write something good about Golden Abyss. For anyone reading this who hasn't played UC3, it is an award winning game, and is one of the premier games for the PS3.

Posted on Nov 26, 2013 9:46:04 AM PST
Ik4sg says:
^Uncharted 3 good in my book but not as good as 2 was. It depends on what you like. A psychological story vs an action story. 3 did not explain many things. It just assumed you understood.
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