Uncharted: Golden Abyss
|Uncharted: Golden Abyss|
North American cover art
|Developer(s)||SCE Bend Studio|
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Release date(s)||JP December 17, 2011
|Distribution||PlayStation Vita card|
Uncharted: Golden Abyss is the fourth entry in the Uncharted series, and the first portable entry in the series. It is one of the first games released for the PlayStation Vita. It was developed by SCE Bend Studio, with development overseen by Naughty Dog. The game was released as a launch title in Japan on December 17, 2011. It was launched in North America on February 15, 2012, Europe on February 22, 2012 and Australia on February 23, 2012.
The story is set some time before the events of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, and begins in medias res with Nathan Drake following rival explorer Jason Dante through a temple complex in Panama. Dante has ordered his army of mercenaries to kill Drake on sight, and after a series of gunfights, the platform Drake is climbing is hit by an RPG.
The game then flashes back two weeks, when Drake and Dante, revealed to be old friends, arrive at a dig site in Panama headed by Dante's "partner" Marisa Chase, who doesn't trust him. At the site, they find corpses of Spanish conquistadors that were apparently poisoned and a grave marker with a Visigoth symbol. Chase also shows Drake an amulet that she hid from Dante. The dig is then interrupted by Dante's real partner, warlord Roberto Guerro. Guerro captures Drake and Chase, however they escape Guerro's base after Chase starts a diversionary fire.
They then go to the house of her grandfather Vincent Perez, who found the amulet at the site. Perez hired Dante to conduct further research after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and Dante paid off Guerro for access to the site in return for a share of the treasure that Guerro will use to fund his conflict. Chase arrived at the site herself hoping to finish Perez' work. Upon returning to Perez' study, they learn that the marker referred to the Sete Cidades, an ancient Christian sect dedicated to finding the seven cities of gold. Friar Marcos de Niza, a member of the sect, had led Coronado's expedition to find Cíbola only to find the villages of the Zuni.
Following further clues, one referring to a "Sword of Stephen", they follow Perez' trail to a ruined Sete Cidades retreat. They find Perez, who succumbed to his illness, as well as evidence that leads Drake to suspect that de Niza had deliberately misled Coronado for reasons unknown. Drake then follows the ruins to a crypt that contains the Sword of Stephen - the personal sword of Esteban, de Niza's guide; however, they are interrupted by Dante, who had followed them with Guerro.
Guerro takes the sword and Chase after pushing Dante off a balcony for insulting him. Drake reluctantly teams up with Dante to escape the ruins and Guerro's army, but are unable to stop Guerro from escaping with her. Dante decides to hire an army of mercenaries to rescue Chase and avenge himself on Guerro, and the two part ways after Drake objects. Although hesitant at first, Drake convinces Victor "Sully" Sullivan to help him find Chase and finish Perez' work. The two follow a map made from the charcoal rubbings of symbols found on the sword to a temple complex believed to house the entrance to the mythical city of Quivira. There they witness and fight through a battle between Dante's mercenaries and Guerro's men. Sully is injured in a fall, forcing Drake to continue by himself.
Drake then fights through more of Dante's mercenaries - surviving the explosion from the prologue - and makes his way to the massive entrance of Quivira where he rescues Chase from the remnants of Guerro's army. After Chase insists that they continue, Drake uses the amulet on the gate to open it. The pair then cross a massive underground lake and make it to the Golden Abyss, a massive room whose walls are lined with gold. They also find the corpse of Esteban, who was sacrificed by Marcos. A geiger counter stowed in Chase's backpack then suddenly activates and reveals the gold to be radioactive. Realizing that the Quiviran populace had died out from radiation poisoning, they conclude that de Niza had sacrificed Esteban and his scouting party before deliberately misleading Coronado in order to prevent them from looting the irradiated gold.
However, Dante arrives and reveals that he knew about the radiation, while still intending to sell the irradiated gold on the black market anyway. Drake defeats him in a fist fight and escapes with Chase as Dante verbally admonishes him for valuing principles above money. When they return to the gate, Chase detonates explosives that Guerro had planted beforehand, sealing Dante in the cavern for good. As the two escape the ensuing cave-in, Guerro appears and attacks them with a rocket launcher, trapping Chase under a fallen pillar. Drake fights and tricks Guerro into falling through a damaged bridge to his death with the Sword of Stephen. He then frees Chase and the two escape to the surface with Sully's help. Before they leave in a helicopter stolen by Sully, she tosses away the amulet, believing it belongs "in hell" with the rest of Quivira. It is also implied that the two start a relationship following the climax of the game.
On June 2, 2011, the official title for the game was unveiled as Golden Abyss, and numerous hands-on previews of the game were released across several sites. This was the first public appearance of the game since its unveiling in January. Prior to the announcement though in May 2011, it was rumored that the game's title would be Uncharted: Golden Abyss, before any official announcement from Sony. The game features touch and motion based controls for navigation and aiming, though these are optional control schemes. The game has been developed by Sony Bend Studio, who are being overseen by Naughty Dog. A brief gameplay demo has been shown. The game has an optional touchscreen control feature and motion sensitive controls. In a demo at E3 2011, it was shown that weapons can be picked up and reloaded by tapping the weapon icon on-screen. Bend studio creative director John Garvin has confirmed that Naughty Dog allowed them to use their mo-cap and voice over studios. It has been confirmed the game will contain over 2 hours of cutscenes. The game doesn't run on the full resolution of the OLED screen of the Vita (960 x 544), instead it runs about half the native resolution (720 x 408)
Nolan North revealed in an interview that he will return to play Drake, lending his voice acting talents along with motion capture work, as in the console games. He also revealed that the story was also being written by Garvin. According to a motion capture video released from PlayStation, Richard McGonagle is set to return in the game as well as Victor Sullivan. Naughty Dog co-president Christophe Balestra confirmed the game's stance in the franchise, as well as suggesting a greater focus on exploration rather than gunplay.
The 1.01 update added "Black Market", an in-game store which enables players to trade and receive bounty items that are collected in the game with other Vita players using the PS Vita's "NEAR" application. In addition to this, the patch also prepared the game to use the Treasure Map DLC pack. Patch update 1.02 fixed bugs and issues. Patch 1.03 enables players to unlock cards based on game collectibes for the upcoming Uncharted: Fight for Fortune game, and also improves the bounty drop from enemies.
The musical score for Uncharted: Golden Abyss was composed by Sony PlayStation's Clint Bajakian and was the first major video game score recorded with full orchestra at Ocean Way Studios in Nashville with a 70 piece orchestra led and contracted by Alan Umstead of Nashville Music Scoring.
The game received generally positive reviews. Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it a 7/10, commenting that "A story worthy of the franchise, Uncharted: Golden Abyss falls short in terms of pacing and controls, as the touchscreen gimmick takes the experience down a big notch." Eurogamer gave it an 8/10, stating that "While the absence of multiplayer means it won't last you as long as previous instalments, new control options have allowed the developers to line the seams of Drake's adventure with flashy tassels and detailing that make for a varied and entertaining outing - perhaps even more so than its big brothers." Game Informer gave it an 8/10, commented "For the first time, we're able to play a handheld game with the scale and production values of a home console title. The base level of craftsmanship on display in Golden Abyss means you'll get your money's worth – but not a penny more. I wish all the perspiration expelled in the making of the game had been complemented by a bit more inspiration." Game Revolution gave it 4 out of 5 stars, noting that "[...] all the game's complaints won't detract from the simple fact that this is Uncharted on a handheld. It's just slightly diminished. Golden Abyss is more like Drake's Fortune than it is Deception-it doesn't span that many environments, has smaller set pieces, and lacks online multiplayer."
GameSpot gave it a 7/10, feeling that "Golden Abyss is full of disappointments. The action set pieces are great, but there's too few of them; the voice acting is exemplary, but the narrative doesn't do it justice; the touch and motion controls work well for some actions, but they ruin others. For every moment of enjoyment you have, something comes along to spoil it. Despite its problems, though, Golden Abyss still succeeds in delivering some intense, entertaining action and combat." GamesRadar gave it an 8/10, citing that "It's mostly there - the charm, the gameplay, the visual presentation - but there are some key elements missing. The level design leaves much to be desired, and without the cinematic moments the experience simply isn't incredibly strong. It's still an extremely solid cover shooter with a strong story and some fine platforming elements, but as far as an Uncharted game, it comes up short of what we've come to expect." GameTrailers gave it an 8.6/10, calling the game "A powerful tech demo for the PlayStation Vita, but it's also an engaging game that's a blast to play in spurts. Touch screen use is a little heavy-handed and it's missing those 'wow' moments we're used to getting from the franchise, but it's a solid action adventure with production values strong enough to quell any sense of system buyer's remorse." IGN's Greg Miller gave it an 8.5/10, stating that "The game is great and an impressive launch title for the PlayStation Vita. It's just that the Uncharted series has been known for being a story-driven experience, and Golden Abyss goes in another direction. It's a beautiful, fun game with tons of collectibles, plenty of laughs, and some cool twists on a franchise PlayStation fans know so well. It's just not an instant classic like the other entries in the series." Anthony Severino of PlayStation LifeStyle gave the game a 9.5 out of 10 score in the first full review of the game.
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