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Charting the Abyss

Games 28 Feb 2012

I’m a recent fan of the Nathan Drake series of Uncharted games on the PlayStation 3, and like many of you out there I’m sure that a new Uncharted title launching alongside the PlayStation Vita is a defining factor in your considerations to buy the new portable console.

I finished playing through Uncharted Golden Abyss yesterday, and while I’m not about to review it (reviewing games is a slight conflict of interests for me these days), I did want to address what I’ve recently noticed to be a big sticking point with a lot of people who have and haven’t played the game.

Namely the interactive Vita elements integrated into the game.

Some examples include:

  • Rubbing the screen to get a charcoal rubbing impression on a piece of parchment.
  • Using the back touchpad to rotate an item to view it from all angles.
  • Touching the screen to interactive with weapons, items, environments.
  • Quicktime events that require slicing movements across the screen.
  • Using the accelerometer to aim more precisely.
  • Using the gyroscope to balance while walking along thin platforms.


As is the case with any new system that wants to showcase their fancy new hardware, some of these elements work, some don’t, some are gimmicky, some are inspired.

For example; walking across a thin plank of wood prompts an indicator that forces you to rotate the Vita left or right in order to balance Nathan Drake. Sure, I’ve used this mechanic on other systems before. What doesn’t make sense is that it only happens when ¾ of the way across the obstacle, to which is stops the character progression until you’ve gone through the alignment.

Rather than complimenting the action, it detracts and slows down the gameplay.

On the flipside, when using the zoomed in sniper rifle I’m able to physically move my Vita around to change my aim, allowing a much more refined control than the right joystick. Practically every sniper shot was a headshot because of this, and it was a nice touch that I really enjoyed.

New control mechanisms are fine in new hardware, it’s just the new games shouldn’t feel the need to show off ALL of them.

Really though, in the end these issues don’t even matter. Uncharted Golden Abyss is exactly what I wanted from a title in this series, and the extra controls are incidental enough not to detract or enhance to any significant degree.

What do you guys think?

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  1. Dudi
    April 15, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    I’ve only had a PS3 for a few months and to be hesnot, I wasn’t initially that interested in the Uncharted games. But a friend of mine told me that they were the first games I should be playing, saying they were like Tomb Raider with a Gears of War cover system and with voice acting that made it seem as if you were watching a movie. Well, he was right. While Uncharted was a really fun game, Uncharted 2 surpasses it in every way and wowed me enough to inspire writing this review. While number one took me a couple hours to really get into, number two hooked me from the very beginning. Trying to climb up a train that’s slowly working its way to sliding off a cliff in the opening sequence was intense and I enjoyed how the story jumped backward and let you play the events that led up to that point. The story and the characters in this game are also more interesting. Plenty of new and old faces, great dialogue, sarcastic wit, betrayals and everything you could want from a game about pillaging ancient treasure. What really makes Uncharted 2 shine is the gameplay itself. The fighting feels much more fluid with a lot more variety. Having only six or so weapons in the first game got to be a little boring considering how many freaking guys you had to kill (yes I know it’s a video game but how many pirates can possibly be on one island? Even if they found El Dorado, were they planning to split it 500 ways?) In this game, there are plenty more weapons to choose from and a larger variety of enemies to use them on. And the sheer amount of enemies at least makes more sense, being an army led by a mad general and not just some treasure hunting brigands. The environments were also much more various, as well as the action sequences. The train sequence alone almost makes the game worth playing. Rather than jumping and climbing from one tropical environment to another, you’re climbing mountains, jumping through caves, dodging helicopters on rooftops and well there’s also some tropical jungles but, aren’t there always when you’re hunting fabled treasure? Graphically easily the best looking game I’ve ever played. Sound like a bold statement? Well it’s true. What really sold me were the water effects. While everything else looks great as it is, the water was the most outstanding and I’ve never seen its like in a game. In one of the levels in the city, there is a swimming pool on top of a roof that you can jump in (try it, Drake tries to play Marco Polo with Chloe) and I just sat for a good minute looking at different angles of that pool and marvelling at how amazing it looks. In a game as fast moving as this one, that’s saying a lot. Finally, what has to be said about the Uncharted games is the character of Nathan Drake himself. He is easily one of my top 5 favorite video game characters (maybe just a little bit behind John Marston.) The character’s humor, irreverent dialogue, sarcasm and off sense of morals make him just plain likeable. I’d say that I would love to see him portrayed in a movie, but if Marky Mark is going to play him, I’m boycotting. Nathan Fillion should be Nathan Drake in my eyes. (If you don’t agree just watch a compilation of Drake quotes and compare it to Nathan in Firefly/Serenity. He even looks like him.) This game rocks. Looks great, plays great, story is great and so on and so forth. Play it!

  2. Peter Kossatz
    July 31, 2012 at 2:06 am

    I personaly hate when they make you use the controler to balance the carachter, they did this on the ps3 with other games, is really bad for me, because im used to just laying dow on my chair, and relaxing my arms, that makes the controler stay on the side, so i always die the first time, and then have to get out of my confortable position just to do a retarded thing.

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