Customer Review

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uncharted 1.5, 18 Jun. 2012
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Uncharted: Golden Abyss (PS Vita) (Video Game)
I feel like perhaps I got a different copy of the game to everyone else. Maybe it's because the PS3 versions were so polished, and maybe I'm not giving the Vita enough credit but this was really average. The visuals were lovely but they never changed. There was an awful lot of crumbling ruins in a jungle and it was pretty much like they'd taken all the assets from the first half of Uncharted 1 and left it at that.

The plot is also basically Uncharted 1. You have good guys and bad guys going for a treasure. There's simply nothing else to discuss, except the characters. The new woman, Chase, gets a few early scenes to show how she's quite able to handle herself, and then spends the rest of the game either needing rescue or fretting over the loss of her amulet. Interestingly, her subtitles state that she calls her grandfather 'Poppi', which makes me wonder what they were originally aiming for - had she been 12, or had they really conceived her as that immature? Despite being an utterly worthless character, by some miracle her actress makes her seem quite likeable. Her back-story is insultingly inept though, as she sobs about her grandfather's morals and "It was never about the money" in his private room that overflows with riches.
The bad guys couldn't be more two-dimensional if they tried.

Even the series regulars struggle, with perhaps Sully coming off worst. My favourite exchange overall was when Drake quips 'Your ass looks nice in those jeans,' and Chase fields it with a witty 'Um, thanks!' By this early point Chase has been reduced entirely to Love Interest and may as well head off to raise some kids or something. This world doesn't seem like one where Elena and Chloe could possibly exist, and they weren't exactly deep.

The oddest aspect of the cutscenes is that there are collectibles in them. The first time this happened, I thought it was an amusing nod to how valuable items glow in the world of Uncharted. The second time I saw them I thought it was not amusing enough to happen every time. The third time was so intrusive I finally realised I was meant to actually be tapping on the shiny dots while they were talking. I suppose this is why they made the plot so forgettable - so you wouldn't mind it being cut off by the 'You picked something up' screen every few seconds.

The level design is decent - there are never multiple paths in the PS3 games, but here it seems they've tried harder to make slightly more interesting spaces to explore. Sadly the bland environments and tiny scale work against it. What they have done right is try harder to add depth to the puzzles. Instead of collecting 80 relics represented by glowing dots in dark corners, you now collect assorted objects that collect into batches. Ok, functionally it's exactly the same, but it's a genuinely effective reskin. The camera function is also nice, though I'm not sure it was even new when Beyond Good and Evil used it so well in 2003. Rubbing the dust off things is probably the main thing I'll remember this game for, though. It was like a nostalgia break back to the early days of the Nintendo DS.

The enemy AI is noticably weak and the shooting is curiously bad. I can't really make use of the tilt controls so perhaps they're how it's meant to be played. As it is, auto-aim is essential, though it's not an ideal compromise as it pretty much an instant-win option. To underline the disjointed experience, there are several times when Drake is hanging off a building under fire. With no access to ammo, the game is forced to simply pop a magic clip into his gun. In certain 'safe' areas you're unable to access the gun at all, and these can be between fights. You can therefore do a fairly large portion of the mid-to-late game with a Desert-5 or Wes-44 that never runs out. At any point there's a Dragon Sniper you can be sure of so much ammo that you can lug that around for cheap kills for a good long time, too. It just seems like such an amateur way of handling things - I'm quite bad at these games but it just rolls over to be exploited.

In short, although I've really not come away from this with a massive grin on my face, it's a solid game. It's around Uncharted 1 on the enjoyment scale, but with a less engaging crew and less tedious fights.
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