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Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune Still a Pleasure to Play 6 Years After it’s Release

By Andrew Burgon / phoenix@projectfellowship.com
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April 22, 2013

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Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune Review: A Great Adventure That Delivers the Goods

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune sets you off on a journey in search of the fabled treasure of El Dorado. Playing as the character Nathan Drake in this third-person action adventure you’ll be travelling to some of the most exotic locales on Earth piecing together clues that will lead you to the mother-load.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was released at the end of 2007 and along with the other games in the series was one of the compelling reasons to buy the Playstation 3. What strikes me as amazing is that despite it’s age it’s sterling qualities that set it apart then still shine brightly today including it’s graphics.

In this adventure you are Nathan Drake, a worldly fortune hunter, who has uncovered the journal of his ancestor Sir Francis Drake from a coffin on the ocean floor off the coast of Panama. In it’s pages are clues to finding one of the Earth’s greatest treasures, El Dorado.

The quest you set out on won’t be easy as you’ll be encountering pirates and mercenaries wherever you go. Fortunately, you have two companions that you can – strangely enough – count on to get you through the tough times. Sullie, Drake’s cigar chomping former mentor and Elena, a reporter tagging along in hope of a good story.

The journey will take you to some amazing locales. The Amazon where they encounter the surreal. An abandoned Kriegsmarine U-boat perched on a waterfall that contains a vital clue as to the whereabouts of the artifact. Then it’s off to an island in the Pacific long abandoned and that has all the prerequisites for a great adventure. A fort, a sunken city, a port and a monastery.

THE HIGHLIGHTS

Where to begin! A frantic jeep ride around the island trying to escape my pursuers with Elena at the wheel and myself spraying the enemy with bullets from a mounted turret. Jet skiing through a sunken city with Elena riding ‘shotgun’ (actually, a grenade launcher!) behind me. Later we continued our journey upstream to the monastery which was also a lot of fun shooting barrels of gunpowder floating down the river and the enemies we encountered. Then there is the unpredictable ending.

The Characters

Naughty Dog, the developers, did a great job with the three main characters, Nathan, Sullie and Elena. They are all infused with a distinctive personality and have been brought to life with the use of facial expressions, gestures, idiosyncrasies and the way the characters talk and respond to each other. The lip-sinking is spot on, too. These are memorable characters that you’ll be looking forward to hitching up with in the other games of the series.

Sneaky Enemies

I like what they did with the enemies. I’m use to fighting enemies that are very aggressive and don’t lose any time in getting in my face. The enemies in Uncharted will make use of cover, hurl grenades to try and flush you out, come out and confront you and try in a way that felt very creepy to flank you.

Death Penalty

If you die the game doesn’t penalize you heavily and you are back to where you were in no time. Surprisingly, when you do die you’re back in the action in mere seconds. That’s something I don’t see in a lot of games.

Lots of Screen Real Estate

One thing I particularly liked was that there was very little on the screen besides the characters and the environments. It’s not cluttered with things like a health bar, radar and all those other superimposed icons on the screen. Instead of the health bar, for example, the screen pales when Nathan is hurt and when he is badly injured the controller beats like a heart. If you have to pull on something in the game the prompt animated icon appears on the far bottom left corner of the screen barely making a footprint on it. The only thing I remember being constantly on the screen in combat was the weapon I had and how many rounds were left.

Climbing Filled With Suspense

As Nathan Drake you’ll be doing a lot of climbing during the game. There’s a lot of suspense and anxiety when doing this! This is partly because Naughty Dog has done a great job of creating environments guaranteed to give you a fear of heights! Just because Nathan reaches his hand out toward a ledge doesn’t mean that you should leap to it!

Graphics & Sounds

This game has some gorgeous graphics and notable sounds that really make it a joy to play and helps add suspense to the game. Tree tops sway in the wind and you can hear the rustle of leaves as the wind goes through them, too. The game has good water effects and nature sounds. Special instruments are used to give you the feeling that you’re in an exotic locale by using wind instruments. I remember thinking that some of the vistas surpassed what I’ve seen in other more recent games.

While some people have pointed out things like texture pop-in and screen tearing I was so wrapped up in what was going on I didn’t notice.

Other Notables

Other notable things are when Nathan goes through water and comes out his clothes really do look wet. The game also gives you hints as to what you need to do next.

Replayability

The game has four difficulty levels, 60 hidden treasures and 47 medals which are given when you complete certain objectives like achieving a number of kills using a specific weapon or performing a number of head shots. The medals yield points which in turn can be used to unlock additional costumes, unlimited ammo and other things.

If you play through the game without paying much attention to treasures and medals and didn’t do any research into it beforehand you will probably be interested in a second play through like I am. For example, I rarely did melee combo attacks in the game and didn’t realise that the “brutal combo” caused the fallen enemy to drop twice as much ammo. It took me a while to understand how to use the grenades properly by tilting the controller up and down. I would also have liked to use blind fire more but didn’t realize Nathan could do it.

The game is fairly short and I had it wrapped in 11 hours. If you are really good at this kind of game then you’ll easily finish it within the first 10 hours.

Conclusion

It’s easy to see why Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune garnered so much praise when it was initially released. High production values. Interesting storyline. Memorable characters and voice acting. Great graphics. Appropriate music. Seemless cutscenes which were on par with the graphics in-game. All of these things make it as compelling to play today as it was in 2007.
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