Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

ESRB:T
ONLINE:N/A
INSTALL:No Install Required
RELEASE DATE:November 19, 2007
PLATFORM:Playstation 3
PUBLISHER:Sony Computer Entertainment America
DEVELOPER:Naughty Dog
ONLINE PASS:N/A

Story

Quite possibly, the strongest point of the game.

The game’s narrative gives off a really nice Indiana Jones vibe, with a little Romancing the Stone thrown in for good measure. It works well, is written great, and the pace is really nice – it’s never too fast, nor is it ever dropped to a snail’s pace.

If ever something were the epitome of “summer blockbuster”, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune would be it.

The characters are all rather likable – even the villains. Some a little more than others (I personally like Sully a bit more than main and titular character, Nathan Drake.)

The story follows the adventure of Nathan Drake (Nolan North) as he searches for the lost city of El Dorado and it’s treasures after finding Sir Francis Drake’s (Yes, THAT Sir Francis Drake – the famed explorer), Nathan’s ancestor, journal. Along the way, he meets up with pirates and mercenaries – and other enemies that you’ll have to play the game to find out what they are (Suffice to say, they aren’t what you would have expected.).

Nathan has the help of his long time friend, Victor Sullivan (Richard McGonagle) and journalist Elena Fisher (Emily Rose) on his journey. He also meets up with a cast of colorful villains who are also out to find El Dorado and claim its riches for themselves.

Overall, the story works. It’s fun and exciting – it feels like something you should have a hot bowl of popcorn with you while you’re playing.

Presentation

Would you believe this game came out in 2007, at the beginning of the Playstation 3’s life cycle? Hard to do, huh?

The game is quite nice to look at, even 5-6 years later – something that can’t be said for quite a few early “next-gen” titles. Even the original Resistance: Fall of Man looks a bit dated.

The locales are beautiful. Lush, green jungles with flowing rivers and overgrown trees and rocks, dark, dank catacombs and fortresses, there’s a nice variety of places here, that all look great, and none of them feel recycled.

Something I really like, is the water effect in the game. If Nathan enters the water, his clothes get wet. But they only get wet up to where he entered. So, if the water was only waist high, he would only be wet up to his waist.

The water also dries on the character realistically – albeit, in a slightly accelerated fashion.

Character animations are very nice as well – in cutscenes, characters faces are nicely expressive, and the actual performances are quite believable, thanks to Naughty Dog’s use of recording the actors actually performing the scenes in their motion capture suits. When you see Nathan climbing a rock in a cutscene and talking to someone else – Nolan North is actually doing the very same in the mocap suit.

The soundtrack is well done and helps to set the tone of the game very well, to the point that you almost don’t notice the music is there – it just feels that natural.

Gameplay

The other strong point of the game. The game controls quite nicely. Gunplay is fun – and there’s a nice variety of weapons to use. Grenades, Assault Rifles, Pistols, Sub Machine Guns and Revolvers. Plus Nathan’s own fists.

The hand to hand combat is a bit on the basic side, but it serves its purpose as a last resort, out-of-ammo weapon. A simple sequence of Square, Triangle, and Square results in a powerful three hit, instant kill melee attack that will cause enemies to drop twice as much ammo for whatever weapon they were carrying. It has its uses.

There are a few SIXAXIS controlled actions, but they are relatively unobtrusive and work pretty well. When you’re crossing over narrow paths, like a fallen tree or narrow plank, the SIXAXIS will kick in and you need to tilt the controller to keep Nathan balanced, or else he falls off and you either fall completely off, or he grabs on and you climb back up to where you were to finish crossing.

The other use is when you are throwing grenades – an arching arrow appears, showing where your grenade will be thrown. To aim, press and hold your fire button, then simply tilt the controller back and forth, then release the button.

Climbing and platforming is where this game really shines. The platforming segments are very well done, and they don’t feel too obvious, despite being rather linear. When climbing, you simply aim Nathan in the direction you want him to go, and he goes – the same when jumping from ledge to ledge. Nathan will automatically grab whatever ledge he can.

Gunplay is a bit lackluster in comparison, but it’s still fun. It’s fairly basic, though you can fire single handed guns while hanging from ledges. You can also throw grenades. This makes it so you almost always have cover. Something you’ll desperately need in any firefights.

Nathan is human – he can’t take much punishment. Fall from too high, and he dies. Guns will also make pretty short work of him – which is a little frustrating, since enemies seem to take entire clips to kill, outside of headshots and explosions. This is only amplified in higher difficulty levels [There are 4 – Easy, Normal, Hard, and Crushing – each progressively more difficult than the last, with Crushing being hell.]

Overall, the game plays pretty well. The aiming is a little annoying, and the SIXAXIS controls, while not a problem, really weren’t needed.

Replay Value

For a single player, early launch window title, there is a surprising amount of replay value in this title. The campaign is a nice length – around 7-8 hours, with cutscenes. 5-6 if you skip them. There are multiple difficulties, with Crushing needing to be unlocked by first completing the game on Hard. There are a ton of rewards to unlock, such as behind the scenes features and cheats. You unlock these by completing challenges that the game has set – things like killing X enemies with a specific weapon. These challenges are reflected in the game’s Trophy list, which came a few years after release, when Trophies were first announced.

There are also treasures to collect throughout the levels, signified by a gleam. These also go towards unlocking the game’s awards and Trophies.

For you budding Trophy hunters out there, this game is a pretty good entry point. There’s a good amount of challenge in collecting all of the treasures and completing the game on the highest difficulty, but it’s nothing at all impossible.

Overall

Overall, this is certainly a game that deserves to be in any PS3 owner’s library – it’s one of the best the system has to offer. The aiming is a little iffy at times, but it’s never to a point that it feels broken or anything. I would honestly say get it, just to show what the PS3 is capable of – the game built the foundation for the rest of the series, and the engine honestly hasn’t changed much since, other than a bit of touching up and refining in the later titles.

There’s a decent amount of content here, and a campaign with a fairly decent length. The fact that you can now find this game for under $20 WITH its sequel, makes it a no brainer.

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PROS CONS
  • Game looks amazing, even after all these years.
  • Overall gameplay is fun. Climbing feels good.
  • Controls feel a little loose & floaty.
  • Higher difficulties can be annoyingly hard.
  • FINAL VERDICT
    Click here or on the verdict image to the left for full disclosure of what these ratings mean!

    About James Headrick

    James is an aspiring game reviewer that plays primarily on the Playstation 3 & 4. He also works freelance as a graphic designer, doing print and branding based design.
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