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Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PlayStation 3) artwork

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PlayStation 3) review

" “There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory”. The preceding was said by Sir Francis Drake, a believed ancestor of the games main character, Nathan Drake. You probably recognize Sir Francis Drake from your history textbooks. Wait, does that make this game...educational? Never fear, there is no form of educational learning in this game. All you’ll find here is a superbly crafted video game from Naughty Dog;..."

“There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory”. The preceding was said by Sir Francis Drake, a believed ancestor of the games main character, Nathan Drake. You probably recognize Sir Francis Drake from your history textbooks. Wait, does that make this game...educational? Never fear, there is no form of educational learning in this game. All you’ll find here is a superbly crafted video game from Naughty Dog; Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.

Uncharted tells the story of Nathan Drake, a man who believes he is the descendant of Sir Francis Drake. Nathan finds Sir Francis Drake’s journal which speaks of the hunt for the magnificent golden statue El Dorado. The courageous Nathan embarks on a thrilling adventure to find the treasure. He goes with his old friend Victor Sullivan (Sully) and news-reporter Elena. Soon enough they learn that getting the statue will have its difficulties, with plenty of twists and turns along the way.

Drake is a character who is a very personable guy. He’s very human and his characteristics add a new level of enjoyability to the game. Similar to many of us, there is one thing we want to do, and we’re willing to do whatever it takes, but we still have our doubts. This is Drake in a nutshell. He’s not a macho 6-foot bulging muscle lead man that just wants to blow things up and save the girl/world/family/city or whatever applies. Drake’s intentions are very realistic, making the story one that’s worth paying attention too.

Uncharted boasts breathtaking environments.

Nevertheless, the supporting characters in Uncharted are also brilliantly put together. Sully is a character that I certainly hope will return if there is a sequel. There is also Elena, Drake’s love interest. Sparks fly between the two of them the moment they are on-screen together. Rounded off by a great cast of villains (excluding Eddy, who is probably up in the realm of most obnoxious antagonist ever), Uncharted has a wonderful group of characters.

The game itself starts off with a bang, and opens with some solid cut-scenes and a wonderful tutorial to get you used to the way the game plays. The controls are simple, yet fluid, and work perfectly. The thing is, from the first second of Uncharted, you will be hooked. If you aren’t completely fascinated and enthralled with the game within ten minutes, you have some issues to work out.

Uncharted is rather entertaining, gameplay wise. Uncharted is essentially a third-person action-platformer, similar to Naughty Dog’s series Jak and Daxter. The game boasts a solid arsenal of weapons, and while all fully functional, they’re quite basic. It would’ve been nice to see weapons that broke the mold of machine gun, pistol, shot gun etc, unfortunately it’s all we really get. The shooting system is solid. Headshots are satisfying, and certainly require a good amount of skill to pull off, considering the sight is disturbingly tiny. The cover system is very well done. You can take cover against virtually everything, and having the ability to move from one cover to the next in a split second is excellent. The cover system in Uncharted is similar to the one implemented in Gears Of War, so if you know that game, you should have a good idea of how well the cover engine was put together.

Where the problem lies in the combat system is the hand-to-hand fighting. The weapon aspect of Uncharted flows well, and the melee aspect just feels clunky. ”Brutal Combos” (a quick 3 button combination) are fun three or four times, but after a while, they feel slow, repetitive and shallow. There is only one way to attack your opponent with your fists, and other combos would be greatly appreciated if there will be a next installment. Sure, you can sneak up on enemies and break their necks, but honestly, its all been done before.

Uncharted also suffers from some pacing issues. It just seems that there are too many battles and all of them have you fighting tons of enemies. You’ll do a few minutes of jumping and climbing and then be assaulted by 15-or-so enemies. It’s the sort of empty field then mass assault of enemies that makes the game feel a little awkward. This being said, the combat in the game is for the most part, exhilarating. Despite just about every single enemy in Uncharted looking exactly the same, they’re quite intelligent. They will take cover, and take a solid amount of ammo to take them down. While there are some pretty powerful weapons in the game, the enemies can be a huge pain-especially when you are fighting so many at once. Expect to lose a collateral ton of ammo in these gunfights. In the next instalment, hopefully the A.I. will go down faster, to improve pacing.

As exciting as scaling massive walls and manoeuvring the camera to see absolutely stunning scenery is, the platforming lacks some serious “oomph”. There’s just a lot of jumping and climbing from building to building and platform to platform. There isn’t very much too it. Uncharted had some serious potential to make some breathtaking platforming sections, but it simply feels basic and can get pretty tedious. There is also a “hint” button (L2) that shows up in the corner if you haven’t made progress after a few minutes. This feature eliminates the idea of a serious challenge, which in unfortunate.

Another element in the game is the vehicle missions. While providing a solid amount of entertainment, they simply feel out of place, and there was no reason to put them in, if only to claim more “depth”. There is also about 10 seconds in the game that implements the use of the SIXAXIS controller, but this is both annoying and ultimately unnecessary. All in all, Uncharted’s incredibly responsive controls create a superb experience.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is absolutely stunning, and is one of the best-looking games of this generation. The graphical beauty of Uncharted is a big reason why it feels so easy to become addicted to the game. The environments feel so organic, and give you the impression that you are there every step of the way. The vibrant colours of Uncharted fly off the screen- the jungles are breathtaking, the water enhances a new level of realism, and the ruins are phenomenally crafted. The technology used to create Uncharted is truly incredible. From the moment the game begins, you can really see the effort Naughty Dog put in to making this game stunning. Perhaps the only issue is the occasional texture pop in, but the game is just so attractive you aren’t going to care.

When you're in water, your clothes get wet. If that isn’t incredible, I don’t know what is.

Uncharted has one of the best voice-casts ever. Both Drake (Nolan North) and Elena (Emily Rose) are both excellent, the show-stealer is easily Sully (Richard McGonagle). McGonagle has been all over the Video Game world, and creates a believable, hysterical, and phenomenal performance of Victor Sullivan. He really helped Sully become a great character.

The score is also excellent. The music sets a great mood and immerses you into the game. The music is really thrilling and captures the beauty of the scenery and the adventure. The sound effects are also clean and crisp-gun shots sound great. The dialogue is great as well - it’s both witty and insightful to your adventure. Its great to hear the characters talking to each other throughout the game, as it really enhances the friend dynamic between Sully, Elena and Drake- they aren’t just there for some lame objective, but you get the idea that the three of them actually like each other- which can be pretty rare to come across.

All in all, Uncharted isn’t perfect. The game takes an incredibly bizarre change of pace in the last section, which can either enhance the experience or genuinely turn people off the entire game. Also, there’s almost too much action in Uncharted. The platforming and puzzles were decent, and they showed a lot of potential, but they felt like an idea that was never fully realized. Uncharted is also around the 8 hour mark, and despite a neat medal/rewards system (awards for 50 headshots that give you points towards costumes, etc.) and hidden treasures, there is really no reason to go back and play the game again.

Despite the criticisms, I absolutely loved Uncharted. Naughty Dogs ability and talent to make video games is remarkable. Despite being short, Uncharted plays like a movie with its stunning visuals and great cutscenes. This is an action-driven game with characters more than strong enough to make Uncharted memorable. If you have a PS3, then get out there and discover the mystery of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.

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Community review by Azumangaman (February 23, 2008)

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