Sunday, August 17, 2008

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (Late) Review (PS3)

When Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was first revealed, I did not care too much for it. It looked like a male led 'Tomb Raider' type game. It didn't help that the first trailer that I saw made the game look some-what cheesy. With that, I had no intention on playing the game until I started to see and hear more of it. I tried the demo, liked what I saw and I decided to pick it up. Nathan Drake's adventure might a short one, but it was certainly a thrill ride from start to finish.

In Uncharted, you play as Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter of sorts who is hired by Elena Fisher to help her film a television documentary on Sir Francis Drake's tomb, which was rumoured to be somewhere in the waters. Upon finding the tomb, which Nathan already believed, discovers clues to the whereabouts of El Dorado, the fabled City of Gold and the true location of Sir Francis Drake's body. They along with Nate's friend Sullivan set off to find this and along the way many different things happen to them.

Uncharted plays a lot like both Prince of Persia and Tomb Raider. It is similar to Prince of Persia thanks to the large amounts of climbing and jumping you will have to do throughout the game; while the action and adventure is similar to that of Tomb Raider and even Gears of War. When you're not climbing walls, trees or buildings you will be solving puzzles and shoot wave upon wave of bad guys. The pacing is done right, but throughout the game you might be surprised at how difficult it is for you to get to a certain location, only to find that the enemy is already there waiting for you. It might seem weird, but taking its cue from Hollywood Movies, you just go with the flow.

The game is extremely cinematic. You'll encounter many cut-scenes throughout the game which help lead the story on. For the most part, while this is strictly fiction, there are only a few points late in the game that the realistic nature of the game loses its credibility. Again, this is trying to be an Indiana Jones type game (as were the Tomb Raider games), so the discovery late the game was expected.

The graphics in this game are absolutely incredible. Considering this game came out in late 2007, Naughty Dog Studios has made what I would say is still one of the best looking games to date. Metal Gear Solid might want to fight for that title, but the games graphics, water, character models and every possible environment both outdoor and indoor are extremely detailed and a sight to see. You will often just want to peer around with L2 just to look at and absorb the scenery.

The sound is also well done. All the voice actors work well and I didn't have a problem with any of them, including the stereotypical British Villain. It's sometimes often that a game that looks great will suffer from characters that sound like they don't belong, but that is not the case here. The outdoor environments sound great. Considering you are in the jungle, the sound of birds, animals and the rustling of trees and leaves help set the environment. The in-game music is also another positive aspect helping to add tension to hectic battles and incredible discoveries.

There is very little that hurts Uncharted. Outside of the length of the game, which should only take you about 8-12 hours to complete, there isn't much to complain about the game. Yes, there are some frustrating moments here and there, but that is expected with this type of game. You will encounter some points where Nathan fails to make an easy jump, either by under-jumping or going over; you will die from head-shots, but thankfully there are plenty of check-points that your frustration will only occur at a few key points. The last battle is a bit difficult but well done and the ending of the game is satisfying.

Thankfully, with the recent inclusion of trophies and unlockables already included in the game, there is some incentive to play through the game on multiple occasions. The bonus content is your standard fare of character art and in-game additions, so you may want to play the game a second or third time just for that content.

I loved Uncharted. For me the length was great with at no point feeling like the game was leading me on. If you were on the fence in the beginning, I strongly suggest you try it out and I am certain you will enjoy yourself. I was too, but once I started playing, I couldn't stop playing and you won't realize how quickly time flies. This is definitely the beginning of a great franchise with Nathan Drake; hopefully Sony will not over-do it, but I am eager to see what is next for him.

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