Uncharted: Golden Abyss for the PS Vita is a single player action/adventure game successfully bringing the Uncharted series to the smaller screen and putting to novel use the touch screen capabilities of the system.
The story of Uncharted Golden Abyss would not be out of place in a Boys Own magazine or, dare I say it, an Indiana Jones adventure. A jolly decent sort of fellow, ruggedly handsome who likes women but does not let them get in the way of adventures, and is fairly good at almost anything. He has a loyal friend, a bit of a sort with probably a murky past, useful in a scrape and, when it comes to the crunch, does the right thing. Throw in a damsel in distress and a load of treasure to be discovered and bunch of baddies who will stoop to all sorts of underhand tricks to get their hands on the loot. Well something like that anyway.
Nathan Drake (all round good egg), the principal player in the uncharted series and his buddy Jason Dante (dodgy friend) are on their travels through Central America, where all the best adventures take place, investigating the four hundred year old mystery of the massacre of a Spanish Expedition involving a secret Spanish sect and a legendary lost city and, possible, lost treasures. They meet up with Marisa Chase (damsel in distress) who does not see eye to eye with Dante, and whose grandfather is an archeologist who has, unfortunately, disappeared leaving no clues as to his whereabouts. But the aptly named General Guerra (all round bad egg) is out to stop them whatever the cost. And so the story rumbles along, quite slowly at first, but picking up speed and getting interesting when a great many unexpected twists and turn are thrown into the mix, and there are plenty of puzzles to solve, artifacts to collect and lots and lots of fighting, and more fighting, along the way. It comes to a climax when they come to the edge of the Golden Abyss.
There is some pretty varied and interesting scenery and locations on offer reflecting the true nature of Central America with its deserts, jungles, raging rivers and bottomless caverns. The PS Vita does an admirable job of portraying them given the relatively small dimensions of the screens. The audio is equally good, again given the limitations of the inbuilt sound system with its tiny speakers, but sounds better through earphones.
Control in most cases can be achieved either by the analog controls or the touch screen. The touch screen is also put to good use for rubbing dust from some of the inscriptions and artifacts by rubbing fingers across it. The inbuilt 'gyro' system of the Vita also finds a use for keeping Drake and friends upright when crossing raging rivers by balancing on rickety bridges and such like, and also as a sort of point and shoot method for zapping enemies. Arranging archeological fragments into a complete object can also be achieved by dragging pieces across the screen. Of course all these things are peculiar to the PS Vista for which this version of the game was developed.
When push comes to shove it turns out to be a pretty good game of its genre which behaves well on the PS Vita system, which also adds novelty value introduced by the clever use of the Vita touch screen control system. Whether or not this novel use will make up for the lack of the bigger screen graphics is something which only time, and sales figures, will reveal.