Uncharted: Golden Abyss Review
Bend Studios tries to replicate Naughty Dogs efforts on the portable format while creating an entirely new experience for Nathan Drake. Trouble is Bend spends too much time showing off the Vita and not enough time showing off Nathan Drake resulting in a lacklustre experience. Read the full review after the jump.
I really, really wanted to like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, I really, really did. With all the hype and good reviews surrounding this title I was really looking forward to a great Uncharted experience on the handheld. The problem is despite overcoming dictators and mercenary armies, there is one issue that even Nathan Drake is unable to overcome, boredom.
E3 2011 – Sony Media Event – Uncharted Golden Abyss on the PS VITA (Photo credit: PopCultureGeek.com)
Uncharted: Golden Abyss is a 7 to 9 hour adventure with platforming and shooting elements similar to the Uncharted series on the PS3. The problem with this experience is that the first 70% of the game is hopelessly boring and so straightforward you could fall asleep playing it and still progress.
Why is it boring you ask? Well to explain first you need to know that Uncharted: Golden Abyss is a fantastic representation of what the Vita is capable of. The game is essentially an 8 hour demo for the Vita, it incorporates all of its features down to the camera for gameplay. The problem is by incorporating these features Uncharted makes the platforming sections so straightforward that playing with anything other than the touchscreen involves hitting the X button five times over and over again. The shooting sections are equally monotone reminding me of Call of Duty’s penchant for small rooms and respawning enemies.
While this in itself would be ok, the structures of the levels themselves are so linear and the gameplay mechanics are so overused that they start dragging the game down during the tutorial level. There are ten game mechanics in Golden Abyss which are repeated over and over again.
Shooting, shooting enemies while platforming, swiping in fist fights, opening doors by swiping, giving supporting characters a boost by swiping, cleaning tools and artefacts, solving a jigsaw puzzle, wall hugging, climbing on ropes and watching cutscenes every 2 minutes.
While these features in and of themselves are in every single Uncharted game, Naughty Dog has the good sense to hide them behind tremendous spectacles which make the games a joy to watch as well as play. Bend Studios just straight forward provides variations on every level with the exact same features so much so that 2 hours into the game I began predicting what the next feature would be. What’s worse about this rinse and repeat development is that there are certain sections which you can’t cross without activating cutscenes, which would be fine if cutscenes didn’t occur every 2 minutes. Speaking of every two minutes the game for some reason hates to see the player go more than a few minutes at a time doing something other than the core gameplay mechanic of platforming and shooting.