Uncharted: Golden Abyss PS Vita review
If we could have anyone to hold our hand as we cross the frontier of a new games console… well, it’d probably be Rachel McAdams or a stern but comely geologist packing a flask full of single malt whisky. But – daydream fantasies aside – Nathan Drake would also be pretty high on the list.
And thankfully, after three of the best games to have ever spun in our disc tray, his handheld debut neither disappoints nor lets the stellar series down. It crams in everything you’ve come to know and expect from an Uncharted game – never feeling scaled-down, despite suffering the kind of physical shrinkage that would make you blush in the changing-room showers, and making neat (only mildly irritating) use of Vita’s innovative features.
It’s been made as the showpiece release of Sony’s new console launch, and this shines through in the design. You touch, swipe and tilt your way through Nate’s prequel journey, interacting with events in ways that just weren’t possible before (unless you had a burning desire to get up close and personal with your plasma).
We’d already seen that the sniper rifle can be aimed by using the device’s gyroscope, and the swipe to-climb function that lets you ‘paint’ a route across the ledges you want to scale. The latter is a decent novelty that you’ll likely stop using within the first hour, the former made useful due to the sluggishness of the default aiming (although you can tweak the sensitivity).
But there are many more. Some, such as using your finger to pinpoint where grenades should land, are helpful, and some genuinely up the sense of immersion. Wipe your finger across the screen (and rotate the object using the rear touchpad) and Nate cleans the mud off an ancient piece of armour that you pick up. Gently scrub from side to side and you take a charcoal rubbing of a long-lost engraving on a temple pillar. Or you can simply rotate the dial on a rusty padlock to break into a bad guy’s safe. It all helps to make you feel more involved, doing rather than simply observing.
It’s not perfect, though. Whacking great arrows are plastered across the centre of the screen when you need to swipe in order to cling frantically to a ledge or thwack a goon in the chops, and these break the flow – no more so than in a pair of otherwise enjoyably different boss fights at the game’s climax. Garish, dead centre and oversized (especially seeing as you only need to make small corresponding movements somewhere on the screen), surely Bend could have come up with something more elegant?