Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is the first entry for Naughty Dog in the “next generation” of gaming. ND has had a reputation for releasing highly polished games that attempt to push the limit of the Playstation console. In my opinion, they are one of the best developers out there, creating the original Crash Bandicoot and the Jak and Daxter series. They have a lot to live up to with this new franchise. Can they create another popular game that will serve as a showcase for the PS3?
The answer to that is simply: yes.
You find yourself playing in the shoes of Nathan Drake, who believes himself to be the descendant of the legendary explorer Sir Francis Drake. On a search off the coast of Panama, they discover what seems to be the coffin of Sir Francis; but inside, what they find is his lost diary, which details the happenings of Drake’s life up to his death. It also mentions a treasure of the name “El Dorado”. Armed with the diary, and his too friends Elena Fisher and Victor Sullivan, Nate sets off to find the treasure. The story is his journey. As this is a single-player only game, the story is one of the main focuses. While it is intriguing at times, and there is a big twist at the end which you won’t see coming, it can sometimes fall flat. You do develop a relation with Nate but it’s minor.
But when you have gameplay like this game does, it doesn’t matter that much. You carry two guns; a primary weapon i.e. a pistol, and a secondary weapon like shotguns, submachine guns etc. The main focus of combat is the cover system, which is perfect. Walls are sticky when you want them to be, and un-sticky when you want to get out of cover. You run up to an object and press circle to attach the object. It’s all very slick and you never feel frustrated with it.
I’d even go as far to say that it matches Gears of War’s cover system, if not better. The game is molded so that you have to use the cover system. If you run out commando style, you will die in 15 seconds – or just run out of ammo. You constantly feel like you need ammo, but it never gets too much so that you’re overwhelmed with helplessness. The game feeds you with ammo just enough to keep your stock topped up. Unfortunately, on the first couple of playthroughs, some of the areas can become very frustrating unless you change your gameplay style, which does hamper the experience a bit.
When things get up close and personal, you have a melee system. It isn’t extensive and you have around two basic combos. The fast furious combo (just tap square) and then the Brutal Combo (square, triangle, square). This drops more ammo and useful for when you need those extra bullets. The enemy A.I. is actually pretty good, even compared to today’s games, they still hold their own. They potshots at you from behind cover and if you hide for too long, they’ll try and flank. You get enemies that like to stay behind to cover, to big shirtless dudes who charge at you with shotguns. The A.I. of your friends is equally as good. They never seem to get in the way, and their shots actually kill enemies rather than just softening them up. The game can sometimes be broken up by platforming segments which, with Naughty Dog’s experience, feel just right. Nate can run along walls while holding a vine, shimmy along ledge and jump across wide gaps. It all works very well and yes, SixAxis is used – but in such a way so that you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to, it’s just there to compliment the gameplay.
The graphics of this game are astonishing, even if you compare to recent games, this game is still up there with the best. Textures pop out at you and the jungle you find yourself in feels as if it is filled with life. However, there is noticeable texture pop-in when you load up a chapter and I have come across the occasional hitch in the framerate, but that is extremely rare. When the game moves into the darker areas of the world, it seems to lose its character and the environments don’t seem as polished, I feel it would have been a better game if it had stayed in the lush, jungle areas.
As you walk through clearings, plants sway out of the way and the water is the best feature. You jump in, and ripples spread out over the smooth surface and it all looks like one entity. Unlike Resistance 2, they are perfect and not randomly exaggerated at times. The detail on Nate’s character model is noticeable too. As he runs his muscles bulge and his clothes crease etc. The attention to detail on is to be commended. In cutscenes, the eyes and the mouth move realistically, with the eyes performing the minute movements that they do in real life. The voice acting is top notch and you can really see what difference it makes to use motion capture.
To keep you playing after you completed the game, there is a medal system that you are rewarded with after you complete certain tasks (these are also converted into trophies). As you unlock medals, you are rewarded with points that go towards unlocking tidbits of extra content. You have a costume selector for allies and villains, you have a render select option, weapon select, slow motion, and more. It just adds a bit more replay value after you finish the main story. Two years after its release, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune remains one of the best titles to have on your Playstation 3 console. It still holds its own as one of the best graphical games on the market.
The story is nice and interesting but it can fall flat at certain points in the game.
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A great cover system that rivals what Gears has to offer. Some fun platforming segment - disappointed they weren't expanded on.
The acting is top notch and the characters are believable human beings. The music score is also good.
Multiple difficulty levels and rewards to unlock. Unfortunately no multiplayer or coop.
Remains one of the best titles on the PS3