With the announcement of the 160GB Playstation 3 Bundle with Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune in Sony’s conference on the first day of the Leipzig Games Convention, I have decided to launch the first of my ‘Greatest Hits’ reviews for Playstation 3 games that have already been released. I haved played this magnificent video game about 4 times now through now: 2 times before the Trophy patch and another 2 times after the Trophy patch was released. This game continues to amaze me and a great number of players and was one of my personal top contenders for Game of the Year last year. Now launching the first of my Greatest Hits reviews is my official review of Naughty Dog’s masterpiece, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.
What I Liked:
- An Amalgamation of Celebrated Gameplay Systems: Uncharted is a game that falls into more than one genre. It blends the thrill of a platforming game, a heart-pumping action/adventure game, and also a slight bit of a puzzle game. Though it does not introduce anything particularly innovative gameplay-wise, it further improves what other games have been recognized for. Heavily influenced by the duck-and-cover system present in Xbox 360 and PC’s Gears of War, an over-the-shoulder shooting perspective first introduced in Resident Evil 4, and a much more forgiving platforming system than what is seen in the Tomb Raider series, Uncharted manages to stay refreshing and never feels too dragged on when playing through the game. There are also several genres that it could fit into at certain parts of the game, but that would be stepping into the territory of spoilers.
- This Story Reminds me of…: The story in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune can be compared to the several action/adventure films, like the Indiana Jones series. Although just because it resembles another film’s story does not make it bad; in fact, I see it as a positive, since fans of the genre will be exploring familiar ground in the plot. There will be several plot twists along the way and there is one very unexpected twist that will definitely push the player to re-think their way on how to play the game, once they have grown comfortable to the duck-and-cover system.
- Amazing Dialogue and Character Development: Expanding upon the story, I felt these two aspects of the game deserve a great deal of recognition. While playing this game, I felt like I was really playing in an actual film. The characters’ interaction with each other is so believable in the sense that these characters are actually alive. Each voice actor in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune put in a tremendous amount of effort to achieve this effect and it really does show. Plus, it actually makes us, the players, care about each individual protagonist in the story and of course, despise the villains. As the game goes on, you’ll actually witness how these characters mature throughout the story and when you go back to replay the game once again, you can make a great comparison on how they started out in the beginning and how they have grown up at the end. Not only that, but Uncharted also brings in a number of humorous lines of dialogue as well; it is introduced in a way that it is never forced, but comes out naturally in the sense that the characters don’t necessarily emphasize it, since it is just a part of their personalities.
- Surreal Environments: Uncharted: Drake Fortune’s graphics are absolutely stunning. The environmental graphics engine in the game is definitely one of its strongest points. Surrounding our protagonist, Nathan Drake, is numerous amounts of foliage that look realistic, flowing streams of water, and such. Not only is the environment there for the player to gaze at, but they can actually interact with it as well. Many players were pleasantly surprised when they found out that when Mr. Drake interacted with water, his clothes would actually look drenched. If a part of his jeans only touched the water, only that part of his jeans would be wet and after a certain amount of time has passed, the wetness of his clothes would dry off gradually. Another example of interaction between the player and the environment is blades of grass would sway out of the way as Nathan runs across them.
- Smart Allies and Enemies Alike: Whether you’re fighting alongside Elena (a female reporter looking to find her biggest story) or Sully (Nathan’s long-time friend and mentor), you’ll never find them standing around being cannon fodder for the enemies. They will constantly be taking cover returning fire and always supporting you, not ever getting in your way. There will be times when you will be exchanging dialogue between them during a gunfight which brings a somewhat relaxing feeling in the intense atmosphere. This applies to enemies as well. Duck and cover for too long and you’ll gradually see them trying to flank and surround you. They will also duck and cover as well, often blind firing at you or actually waiting till you get out of cover to shoot and even throw grenades at you if they’re getting tired of waiting for you to show your head and forces the player to find another place to cover themselves immediately, and thus, brings a great amount of challenge in Uncharted. In higher difficulties, balancing your time between taking cover, blind firing, and aiming for enemies is critical to the player’s success.
- A Soundtrack of Variety: Filled with harmonic sounds, Uncharted’s soundtrack compliments its scenery very well. To the calm, relaxing tunes as Nathan explores the jungle to the fast-paced, throttling beats of battle, Uncharted: Drake Fortune does well in further engaging the player into the many atmospheres of the game. It also helps in determining whether more waves of enemies will arrive or not after a certain gunfight has ended. If the soundtrack keeps on consistently playing that heart-pumping track, either more enemies are on their way or some enemies are still left. If it finishes off and practically fades into silence, give many thanks that you are still alive.
- New Game+ Goodies: After beating the game for the first time, players are rewarded with a myriad of new features that they can use for future playthroughs. Whether it’s unlockable costumes to several color filters (especially the Next-Gen filter), it encourages further replayability once the player finishes the game and provides a different experience from the last playthrough. It also contains several pieces of artwork and of course, celebrates the wonderful developers behind the fantastic game itself by also showing us photos of them.
- Selecting Specific Scenes to Play Through Again: Missed a hidden treasure, but you don’t want to play through the whole game from start to finish to find it again? The scene selection, unlocked after playing through the game once, is quite handy for those who missed a specific thing at a certain part of the game and also is just there to replay your favorite part of the game over and over and over again.
- Medals, Trophies, and So Much More: Updated with a patch that integrated the Trophy System a few weeks ago, players around the world are falling in love with Uncharted all over again. These Trophies bear the exact same requirements seen in the in-game Medals system, although they aren’t retroactive, since players would just download 100% game saves to unlock the Trophies all at once. Personally, I had no problem with it since I unlocked all the Medals before the Trophy patch arrived and gladly did it all again. In the game, Medals carry a certain point value to them and as that point value increases, more goodies are unlocked, such as new weapons, costumes, and more.
What I Disliked:
- The More Damage, The More Bloom: I often have no problem with games that punish the player for taking a certain amount of damage to the point that the player can’t see much on the screen, but Uncharted has this unsettling concept of putting forth a de-saturated, over-blooming setting as the player’s damage cumulates more and more. The sound of heart beats as death nears is a good indicator of when you’re on the edge of your life, but the overuse of bloom can definitely hurt my eyes sometimes. It’s easily fixed though, as long as you don’t take damage for a certain amount of time, since your health regenerates.
- Minor Technical Flaws: There is still a fair amount of texture pop-in and screen tearing throughout the game. It’s a very minor problem, but I feel that it needs to be addressed since it is still apparent. In no way does it ruin my experience, but I hope Naughty Dog aims to fix these problems, which I’m sure they will, if a sequel was to ever be released.
- All Good Things Must Come to An End: The game clocks in around 5-8 hours, depending on how good the player is at the game. My average is approximately 6.5 hours through each single play through. I wish the game was longer overall, but in no way will I count it against it. The overall package is amazing and is definitely one of the best games out there in this generation.
Those who are planning to purchase the upcoming 160GB Playstation 3 this upcoming November are in for a real nice treat. This review is aimed primarily towards them, if they’re still not sure if the game is really worth the purchase. Honestly, it’s definitely worth it, especially now that Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune supports the Trophy system. I hope this review has somehow influenced that crowd because I believe every gamer should play the game for themselves.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Incredible production values all throughout.
Truly epic storyline that keeps you enthralled from start to finish!