Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Review
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune tells the story of Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter, as well as a descendant of the famous historical figure Sir Francis Drake. Drake and his friend, Sully, are chasing the ancient lost city of El Dorado. Together, accompanied by journalist Elena, they follow clues in the journal that belonged to Francis Drake himself. You can expect some plot twists here and there, and for the most part, the story is great. It starts off slowly, introducing you to the characters, but when the pace picks up, you become emerged in the story, and it becomes so interesting that it is possible to want to rush ahead, simply so you can find out what happens next. The story does become something quite similar to an Indiana Jones film near the end of the game, but that can be overlooked.
Even though Uncharted does not have many characters in it, the characters that are there are, for the most part, great. Nathan Drake is the slightly annoying but charming protagonist, and he can be quite humorous at times. Sully is the older, but certainly not wiser, man of the group, that appears to only care about finding the treasure, but he is likeable enough. Even the damsel in distress character, Elena, is likeable. The interaction between the three main characters, and even with some of the enemies, is something worth seeing. The voice actors behind these characters deliver great performances, which certainly help make the characters as likeable and enjoyable as they are.
One of the first things that you will notice when you start up Uncharted is how good the game looks. The environments that you are in look amazing, as do the character models. When exploring the world, you will come across some fantastic looking places, and if you have a high definition television, you will see things in outstanding detail. One of the best things about the game’s graphics is the water effects. Water in Uncharted looks amazing. One of the neat things about Uncharted is that if Drake gets wet, you see it on his clothes, and they stay wet for a few minutes until he dries off. If you walk through water, the bottom of your jeans gets wet, but if you then roll in it, your entire body is wet. It’s a nice little touch that I appreciated.
The game doesn’t only look great, but it runs great too. The framerate stays constant throughout the game, whether you are fighting multiple enemies or just exploring the jungle. Uncharted also animates brilliantly. Every time you reload a gun, you see the clip flying out of the gun, and Drake reaching round and grabbing another clip, before placing it in the gun. The characters are also very well animated while interacting with objects, as well as while doing other things, such as hanging off of ledges. While Uncharted does run brilliantly, I did notice quite a few instances of texture pop-in. This is only a minor problem though, and it certainly doesn’t detract away from how impressive this game looks.
One of the reasons Uncharted looks as good as it does is due to the setting of the game. The game mainly takes place in the jungle and in ancient and deserted buildings. Uncharted does well to create an almost perfect atmosphere for the setting. The jungle feels authentic, as well as the buildings that you find yourself battling in. The soundtrack also lends itself to creating a great atmosphere as it is authentic for the setting that you are in, which really helps you become emerged into the story. The sounds you will hear from the jungle are great too.
Uncharted is not just about story and setting though; there is some great gameplay there too. Uncharted is not just a simple third person shooter that consists of shooting your way through the entire game. There are some platforming elements, some basic puzzles, and a few driving sequences. The gun play is quite standard for a third person shooter, but it does feel satisfying enough that there are no complaints over the core shooting. However, enemies can take far too long to die, sometimes. You can pop an enemy in the head multiple times and he just shakes around a little bit and starts shooting back. This would not be a problem if it only happened sparingly, but it does seem to happen quite often. There also isn’t a great variety of weapons, and you will find yourself sticking to using the same guns throughout the game, until you get to a section where all of the enemies start to carry different guns, but that only means instead of the AK47, you will start using the M4, not a huge difference. You can branch out, if you really want to, but I never found a need to. Also, the grenade throwing is done by the sixaxis control, which I did not enjoy. It makes it feel clunky and it can be awkward to throw a grenade when in the middle of a challenging battle.
The platforming in Uncharted is great. It never feels too hard, but it can be just hard enough that it is not a total breeze to do. It’s enjoyable, and helps split up the gunplay. The camera often changes if you need a wider view of the jump, and while this works well the majority of the time, sometimes the camera is too wide, but luckily this only happens a small number of times. The puzzles in Uncharted are done well as they are not impossibly hard to figure out, but they can be just challenging enough that it takes a few moments to catch on. The game does well to integrate Francis Drake’s journal at these moments, which helps guide you through the puzzles. There are also a few driving sequences spread throughout the game, which are also enjoyable. The first one is only an ‘on-rails’ section with you on the gun, but it’s incredibly fun speeding through the jungle blowing up foes with the grenade launcher. The other two driving sequences consist of you driving a jetski as Drake, and then if you press L1, you can control the shooting with Elena, which means that you are not relying on poor AI shooting. This is also quite fun, and a change of pace for the game, which is welcomed. These driving sequences do not feel thrown in, and because they do not last too long, they are fun and enjoyable. While Uncharted does do well to mix up the gameplay, there are moments where you feel that you are just running from one big gun battle to another, and this puts the game in danger of feeling repetitive at points.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is a great game; there can be no doubt about that. The story is great and something that you will definitely get involved in. The characters help make the story as enjoyable as it is, as does the setting of the game. The game also plays well. The mixture of different gameplay helps keep any repetitive nature of the game to a minimum. Uncharted certainly isn’t perfect though. The lack of an incentive to use different guns is a problem, and that does not help keeping the game from being repetitive. One of the biggest problems is the enemies that just refuse to die, as it really hinders some of the great gun battles you have in the game. Perhaps the saddest thing about Uncharted is that the game doesn’t really do anything new. It’s great at most of the things it does, but it’s still a fairly typical game of its genre. It is better than most of the games that can be directly compared to it, such as the Tomb Raider series, but there is nothing that makes it stand above some of the other superb games of this generation. There is still something to be had here though, and if you are interested in it, I definitely recommend it, as it is a game worth playing.