Quick Note: Uncharted: Golden Abyss is not perfect, but it is fun. As a complete and launch Vita title, it has all the bells and whistles and does not disappoint. For any Vita adventure fan, this is a must own.
With Vita needing a strong launch title, Uncharted meets the need with a strong, solid open to the Vita's life. It has everything that you would expect: Strong gun play, good platforming, an interesting story and treasure hunting.
Golden Abyss follows Nathan Drake as his adventures begin, before the other games of the series. Drake is dragged into the South American jungle by his friend and cohort Dante, with the promise of skirting the General overlord of the area and find clues to the Golden Abyss. The story is told through in games cutscenes that are beautifully rendered and utilize the power of the Vita like no other. There are twists and turns, some predictable and others not, but the ride is enjoyable all the same.
The third person shooting gameplay returns and is surprisingly fluid with Vita's two joysticks. The player gathers guns as they move Drake across the environments, with ammo being around just enough so that the player can be strategic with what weapons he/she uses.
Melee combat is as simple as tapping the hand icon that appears as you get close to an enemy. It is the only forced touch screen control the entire game (with the exception of some architecture pieces). This is one of the best aspects to the touch screen controls through out the entire game. Never does it feel forced or uncomfortable.
The platforming is also tight with excellent and fun environmental pieces to crawl and jump all over. There are touch screen controls associated with platforming, but they are completely optional, allowing the player to fine tune the experience to either the time and place they are playing (as this is a portable game) or to the play style.
Then there is the treasure hunting, which feels more like solving a mystery. Every level has pieces of treasure found in every nook and cranny. Some are just simple collectibles, but most are clues and pieces to the over all puzzle found in Nathan's notebook. It's amazing how much fun it is to take the camera out and find the right shot for a picture, or dust off a piece of treasure to uncover what's underneath. The entire thing adds such a great aspect of depth to each level and makes you feel more like Nathan and less like someone just riding in the back seat.
The game has it all. Great gameplay, beautiful graphics, and a strong story to keep everything wrapped into one neat package. It may not be the blockbusters that the console versions are, but it's a great game non the less.
8 out of 10
Game Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncharted:_Golden_Abyss
IGN Review: http://vita.ign.com/articles/121/1218557p1.html
Making of Per 1 UP: http://www.1up.com/features/making-uncharted-golden-abyss