Sunday, February 22, 2015

Vita's third birthday, a look back at Uncharted Golden Abyss

While the PS4 crowd get ready for the near-cinematic delights of Uncharted 4, I'm taking a quick play back through Bend Studio's launch contribution to the Vita. My bundled game of choice when I picked up the handheld, Uncharted Golden Abyss (original review) was my first visit into the world of Nathan Drake and his misadventures.

I remember being instantly grabbed by the likeable hero, his sidekicks and heart-stopping adventures. Sure the shooting wasn't quite as slick as could be, and the tilt/touch controls are take it or leave it, but as a Saturday matinee adventure, it remains quite the ride.

It still retains its title as one of the best looking games on the Vita to date, quite a statement - and imagine if Sony had let development and evolution continue on a sequel - or just farmed out the engine to a third party.

The cinematics are awesome for a handheld and bring us close to the amazing detail, despite the odd angle and jaggie. The action is certainly intense, with sniping, heavy gunplay and lots of choatic need-more-ammo running around. But the highlight is that around some corner on most levels is some wondrous bit of architecture or scenery to marvel at... the Vita truly blew away the closed room, small scale nature of portable games and opened the door for something bigger.

It is almost a shame most 3D Japanese games are so closed in with their boxy monster hunting levels, with only Gravity Rush a comparable title in terms of scope. But its the story of Uncharted that's the true hero, proving you don't need a hat and whip to bring great adventures to a console.

Where are they now: Uncharted was one of the Vita's best sellers and only recently dropped out of the UK top 20, but is still high on most digital charts. Apparently there was some work on a sequel, but the market and Sony moved rapidly on, leaving portable Nathan Drake in the dust - a true shame!

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