Uncharted: Drake's Fortune User Review
The story of this game revolves around Nathan Drake a modern day treasure hunter who believes he's a descendant of Sir Francis Drake. Nathan Drake comes across an old diary of Sir Francis Drake's which points him in the direction of an ancient relic on a forgotten, uncharted island in the pacific ocean. Nathan is accompanied by a female reporter named Elena who he agrees to let tag along in exchange for funding his expedition. At first Elena doesn't trust Nathan because he doesn't share all the details about his expedition with her but as they fight alongside each other in order to survive their relationship grows over time. Nathan's good friend Sullie, an eccentric cigar chomping middle aged man who has a colorful past traveling the world and sleeping with many women also tags along. Sullie's colorful past catches up with him however because the game's main villain Gabriel Roman whom Sullie apparently owes money somehow gets wind of Nathan and company's expedition and now wants the treasure for himself. Roman unleashes his army of hired guns on the island and Nathan and company will have to survive these mercenaries while uncovering the dark and disturbing secrets that the island has to offer. The story and characters are very well done and with top notch voice acting. If you're a fan of Indiana Jones and/or adventures you will be immersed in the story of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, I know I was.
The gameplay in Uncharted: Drake's Fortune has been described countless times as Tomb Raider meets Gears Of War. There is three main gameplay elements in this game Platforming, third person shooting and logical puzzle solving. In the platforming parts you will be jumping from platform to platform such as the top of pillars, gaps in the ruins of an old stone bridge, between rock formations, etc. Sometimes you'll even use the tilt sensing in the SIXAXIS to balance Nathan while tight roping across a fallen log. You'll also be shimmying across ledges and vaulting from handhold to handhold and sometimes you'll be vaulting from one handhold to a rope or vine and swinging to the next handhold. The platforming gameplay in Uncharted is very forgiving though unlike Tomb Raider, even if you miss the target a little during jumps Nathan will still grab a hold and pull himself up. Some people even say the platforming is too forgiving but I disagree. You still have to line up your jumps and time your leaps just right you just don't have to be perfect and you wont fall to your death countless times which gets frustrating.
During the puzzle solving parts of the game you will be solving logic puzzles and physics puzzles. One puzzle you will light the central brazier which in turn ignites oil which runs across the room like a fuse and lights small hanging braziers, under theses hanging braziers is a pile of wood debris blocking the path, shooting the hanging brazier causes some ignited oil to fall on the wood incinerating it and clearing the path. Another puzzle involves a gate which is held up by chains attached to counterweights, shoot the chains and the weights will fall and so will the gate which opens the path. These are just two examples of the many puzzles throughout the game. None of the puzzles are too difficult to figure out, just examine your surroundings and you should be able to figure out what to do relatively easily. My only complaint about the puzzles in this game is that I wish there were more of them and they were more complex. Since Naughty Dog was clearly going for an action heavy thrill ride I can understand why they didn't want to slow the pace of the game with a bunch of complex puzzles.
Throughout the game you will be controlling Nathan Drake from a third person perspective and this includes combat. Combat in this game plays out like a third person shooter. You move the character around with the left analog stick and aim the camera with the right analog stick. Hitting the L1 button brings up a targeting reticule for aiming your weapon more accurately and R1 fires your weapon. You can also fire your weapon from the hip without using L1 but your accuracy takes a serious plunge this is only useful when using a shotgun at extreme close range combat. During firefights you can run up to walls, pillars, old ruins, etc. and hit the circle button to take cover. This is essential to surviving the countless waves of enemies that you'll be fighting throughout the game. From cover you use L1 to aim at your enemies or just fire wild shots in the general area you're looking without aiming. You can also fight your enemies in hand to hand combat, pressing the square button while facing a close enemy will cause Nathan to throw a punch and you can also do combos by pressing multiple buttons with timing.
Throughout the game you will be using an assortment of weapons such as a pistol, shotgun, assault riffle, sniper riffle and grenades as well as other weapons and you will be raiding the corpses of your enemies for weapons and ammo after each firefight. There is no traditional health meter in this game which keeps track of your health. Instead as Nathan takes damage the color on the screen will progressively be watered down to where it's black and white and you hear a heartbeat sound effect which means you better run for cover fast. Sometimes throughout the game you will be accompanied by either Elena or Sullie, once in awhile they will help with a puzzle but they really show their value during firefights. These aren't your typical A.I. comrades who usually end up dead within seconds these partners can really hold their own in combat, you can even hang back in cover and let them deal with the enemies if you wanted. Your comrades are smart enough to use cover effectively switching between cover when they get flanked by enemies and moving out of the blast radius of a grenade thrown by an enemy. The enemy A.I. is also impressive here, they will also use cover effectively and they will flank your position if you stay in one spot too long and if you're having too much success picking off enemies from a great cover spot they will flush you out by tossing a grenade your way. The only issue I have with the combat in this game is the relentless numbers thrown at you at some points. You will get through one wave of about 10 to 15 enemies and just when you think the coast is clear and you try to move through the area here comes another wave and in some spots you face three waves of enemies. Latter in the game this gets problematic when there are snipers in the area who can kill you with one good shot and this makes it tough to run around raiding bodies for more ammo.
There are a few vehicle sequences in this game, one of them you will be riding on the back of a jeep in a chase sequence while your partner drives. You will be manning a gun that fires bullets and grenades and you'll have to take out the enemy vehicles before the enemies kill you. And sometimes you'll be blowing up obstacles in the path before the jeep crashes into them. The other vehicle sequences revolve around driving a jet ski. You accelerate with the X button or the R2 trigger, you steer with the left analog stick and rotate the camera with the right analog stick. Combat on this vehicle is a little problematic because in order to use your weapon you have to stop driving the jet ski and then aim with the L1 button. This slows down the pacing during these jet ski sequences, it would've been better if you could drive and shoot at the same time. These vehicle sequences are great fun and a thrill ride from start to finish. This is especially true on the jeep and not as much on the jet ski for the reasons mentioned earlier. It's very exhilarating when you and your partner are speeding away and you're on the back shooting the pursuing baddies with a grenade launcher.
Uncharted: Drakes Fortune is the best looking console game I've ever played and I've played games like Gears Of War, Bioshock and Mass Effect. The detail in the textures are absolutely stunning, in other games there are areas where the textures don't look so good but this game is packed full of extremely high detail textures from start to finish. This game also uses High Dynamic Range lighting which basically means the lighting is superb and really realistic looking. In the dense jungle settings you will be amazed how the sun realistically shines through the jungle canopy and how real the shadows are cast on the environment and the characters. Also this game has the best looking water I've ever seen in a videogame. This may seem like a trivial point but you can tell that Naughty Dog spent allot of time and effort making the water in this game look as real as possible. When Nathan runs under a waterfall his clothes actually appear wet and when you shoot bullets in the water or run through it it splashes and ripples in a very realistic manner. There is some really good physics simulation in this game as well. For example during the jeep chase sequence mentioned before you can actually mow down small trees with the machine gun and grenade launcher. All these little details really draw you in and immerses you in the experience. Sometimes I would find myself spending one or two minutes just admiring the scenery. Naughty Dog also delivered in the sound department, all the gunshots, explosions, water splashes and vehicle motor sounds, etc. are spot on. There's also lots of orchestral background music that sets the tone nicely throughout the game and the voice acting is top notch throughout.
Uncharted: Drakes Fortune is a technical showpiece that showcases the horsepower that separates the PS3 from other consoles. This is an exciting, fast paced action adventure game that draws allot of inspiration from Indiana Jones and games like Tomb Raider and Gears Of War and you'll be having a blast from start to finish. Normally the first play through takes about 8 to 10 hours unless you stop and admire the scenery from time to time then it will take a little longer. Also for you completionists out there you can find 60 hidden treasures throughout the game and you can unlock achievements by preforming certain tasks that range from beating the game to killing a certain amount of enemies without dying. Finding treasures and unlocking achievements will earn you rewards like developer interviews and cheats like weapon select and infinite ammo so there is reply value here. Even without all this Uncharted: Drakes Fortune isn't a game that you will only want to play through once.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.