Monday, March 12, 2012

Beat Uncharted: Golden Abyss

So, the other day, I had finally had it with Dynasty Warriors Next, didn't want to play (read:  rage out on) MotorStorm RC, so I went "Well, what do I do now?  No new demos, I don't want to play those games, but I want to play -something- on my Vit-ohrightIboughtUncharted."  This is exactly why I wanted Dynasty Warriors Next because, while I admittedly neglected Uncharted:  Golden Abyss for far too long, it only made it that much sweeter when I finally started playing it.  I got to play it because I wanted to play it and I was by-and-large completely ready for the experience.  At least, I thought I was, but Golden Abyss ended up being far more than I expected, which is pretty much the highest of praises I could grant it.

I had previously hoped for an experience that mirrored the one you could have with Uncharted:  Drake's Fortune; overall pleasant with some unfortunate little issues here and there but overall a refined product, and at the very least, Golden Abyss managed that.  While I will openly admit I'm not a fan of all the extra bells and whistles to show off the added functionality of the Vita's possible control scheme, I can't help but celebrate some of them which I never thought I would be doing.  I absolutely love the Charcoal Rubbings and Cleaning off artifacts for reasons that are far, far beyond my understanding, and the motion-sensitive aiming actually does help - while I wasn't too plussed with the normal aiming at first, it was beyond useful with Sniping, so I ended up turning motion back on for normal aiming for the last few chapters of the game to find that it was quite nice.  Even towards the end when there's a lot (and I mean a lot) of touch screen interaction after a whole lot of nothing, re: non-traditional controls, I started liking that since it, at least, fit the thematics of what it was covering which I won't spoil.

Of course, it didn't all work for me, and there's a few things I would've preferred didn't exist at all.  Well, actually, it's just one thing that was fully useless for every use it was implemented in.  Every usage for the tilt controls (beyond the aiming which is different) was just awful and I hated those portions of the game quite passionately.  Going over a log and/or a beam that became slippery right at the end for some reason, necessitating you stand there and wobble back and forth for a minute is terrible and was, in fact, the cause of my first death in the game which killed my budding killstreak and annoyed me greatly.  Then there was another section at about the mid-point of the game, possibly a little before, where they're used for an entire sliding setpiece that's undoubtedly the low-point of the game.  For me at least, which considering it only lasts about a few minutes at most, means that there's a whole lot of good about the game.  Essentially for the section, however, you have to til to avoid rocks and, if you're all OCD like me, there are a few collectibles through the path that, in my playing, always ended up getting me killed for getting them.  Which kind of sucked.

This looks better in the game, I assure you.

Another area that the game definitely succeeds in the goal of being an Uncharted game is the writing and the acting which is quite clearly a big part of the franchise.  I didn't expect the game to be as heavy on those elements as normal but, when I sit here and think about the game, those are mostly the parts I remember most, and I keep thinking of more of those bits, so I would say there's a fair amount of them.  Every character really sort of got that charm and thought put into them as per normal so that, even if you were supposed to hate a character, you couldn't help but like a trait of them, since it was really done quite well.  The only exception to this might be one of the main antagonists (who you will realize exactly who I mean when you play the game) but even then, I liked him if more for the end-game development of him than his parts here and there in the story.

One thing I feel compelled to spoil, however, and this is probably wrong of me to do, but it's something everybody should know about the game.  Victor "Goddamn" Sullivan -is- indeed in the game, and he's as glorious as ever.  I found myself wondering at several points if he was going to show up and it did, indeed, seem as if it was getting less and less likely as time went on.  But then, after a mention, it did eventually get to the point where he was involved and, man, man, that was definitely one of the "Oh shit, this is friggin' Uncharted" moments for me.  There were several of these moments, as I've sort of alluded to, and it makes me so happy to know this.  It truly is a portable Uncharted game rather than a portable game that tries to be Uncharted.  Already, already, right at it's launch, the Vita manages to have a game that offers a definite console-like experience on the go.  It's magical.

I will admit, however, that this comes with (only the barest of) consequences and drawbacks, but part of it, I can simply attribute to the tech being new and the game did not come directly from Naughty Dog, but rather mostly from Sony Bend who do good work, clearly, but aren't completely in the same realm as ND.  In that they don't have magic like Naughty Dog clearly possesses.  The graphics at times were not silky smooth, showing some unsightly pixels and edges that are very minute, which is not what we're used to it's so insignificant that it barely matters.  The worst example is the fire that's in various parts of the game which, it's tricky to have good fire as a basis, so it's understandable.  Something a little less so was this type of shennanigans which I encountered approximately four times in the game which isn't -bad- by any means.  3 of those times, it was just a mid-air suspended gun, rather than a full person, so it wasn't too noticeable either.  Still, it's something that bears mentioning, if just to try and fairly present the game as a polished, but not 100% completely so, product.

It is still amazing, however and I look forward to my usual "Play it over and over again for all the trophies" ritual as I do with every Uncharted game that will begin....well...half an hour ago.  When I've been writing this post for about an hour now, off and on.  Because I procrastinate sometimes, you see.

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