Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune Review – Put this on the map.

Uncharted is one of the best looking console games around. Everything reflects in the water as it ripples, the lush, jungle environments are hard to ignore, the explosions light up the screen, the character animations look incredibly organic and real, the vistas are great looking, the buildings and caves are brimming with detail, the lighting effects are more than stellar, and it does it all at a silky smooth frame rate. Uncharted is the kind of game to make your mouth water, and make long run on sentences explaining just how great it looks. There is no doubt that Naughty Dog is one of the first developers to really utilize that little thing called the Cell Broadband.

uncharted1.jpgReady. Set. Go.

From the opening cut scene under the Pacific Ocean, you can already tell that Uncharted is a pretty game. The game kicks off when Nathan Drake, a tough young fortune hunter, and news reporter Elena Fisher uncover the empty coffin of Sir Francis Drake. They find Drake’s diary, which they believe can lead them to the lost treasure of El Dorado. Shortly after, their boat is attacked by multiple pirates who want that diary and the treasure. Here’s where the adventure begins, grabs you by the throat and never lets go.

The story in Uncharted is really top notch, supported by superb voice acting, and nice facial animations. Nathan and Sully, are on the trail of El Dorado, and news reporter Elena has tagged along for the story. Unfortunately, things are never easy for the trio, as they are constantly being swarmed and chased by these gun wielding pirates, who are henchmen of an old “friend” of Sully’s. Early in the game, the trio get separated, and eventually the story opens up. Everyone on the island has their thoughts that maybe the island is “cursed”, there are large trust issues inside the groups, and overall, the story is told at a fast paced, Hollywood style way.

The variety of the gameplay in Uncharted is really nicely sorted out. Mainly, this is a third person shooter, using the same camera mechanics of Kane and Lynch, Gears of War, or Mass Effect for the aiming. Luckily, the aiming is silky smooth, and you should be capping pirates through the forehead in no time. There is a large arsenal of weapons to Nate’s disposal at anytime in the game, although he can only hold 2 at a time. There is a variety of pistols, grenade launchers, shotguns, assault rifles, and there is even a magnum. At a few uncommon instances, if you are lucky enough, Drake will be at the helm of a turret, and a seemingly endless swarm of enemies just keep coming for more. Awww yeah… There are a few missions, where you are driving a jet ski upriver, while blasting enemies on the river bank. These are really well choreographed, and are fun at that. The one mission that will have everyone talking is the getaway mission, where Elena is driving a jeep at top speed through the jungle, on a cliff, through waterfalls… and Nathan is on the back, with a machine gun, and a grenade launcher shooting at ATVs chasing you. And trucks will also be chasing you. When these guys blow up, it really looks phenomenal, at a fast pace, and it really makes you feel like you are controlling an action film.

uncharted22.jpgKa-boom.

Most of the pirate battles will have you taking cover Gears of War style, and popping out at the precise moment to take down enemies. These guys have unlimited ammo almost, and their AI is pretty good, as they will try to flank you with grenades, and won’t just run out into the open begging to get shot. The tough guys with the shotguns might, but they have to prove they are tough. Until they’re dead. These battles occur frequently throughout the game, but don’t slow down the pacing. These battles are incredible fun, and that’s good, because they are what the core gameplay is almost entirely consisted of.

When you aren’t capping pirates, you will be platforming through the jungle. There are many cliffs and walls to be scaled, waterfalls and rivers to jump, and even many dark caves to be explored. The animations are great, and make what Nate’s doing seem real. There is some variety in this, even, as there are wide open areas to be explored, there are traps to evade, there are cliffs to jump, and there are even a few side scrolling old school parts a la Mario.

The story is really fast paced, and has some signs of horror near the end. The whole game, you’ve been playing a certain way, and near the end, the theme of the game is completely shifted, as there are 2 big twists that happen almost simultaneously. It’s really perfect when it happens, and it will shock anybody who it hasn’t already been spoiled for. I know it shocked me.

Uncharted isn’t relatively easy. Nathan will die a lot your first time through. That’s because the pirate battles are pretty tough, and maybe a little frustrating at a few points in the game. This is what keeps the game from perfection. You won’t hate it, but it will definitely keep you on edge. Luckily, the plot twists shake things up to keep you awake. The game takes about 8 hours to beat the first time, but there are 4 difficulties, and there are many unlockables. There are 60 treasure spread throughout the game, and finding them gets you points. The most points you have, the more content you unlock. There is the ability to play the game in a mirror world, where everything is sort of backwards, and this is a little trippy at first, but really cool. There are also challenges like killing 50 guys one way, or beating up 10 guys this way, and it is a good motivator to play through the game at least twice. There are a lot of bonus videos and art to get, so you will play Uncharted at least twice through. Adding to that, the game is simply so much fun, and that is worth doing the game at least 3 or 4 times. It is really one of the best Ps3 games, and possibly one of the best action games ever.

Uncharted is one of the prettiest games to ever grace the gaming world, and it is also a non stop action ride. Unfortunately, it is over a little too soon, but that’s not necessarily bad, as there are plenty of unlockables that will keep this game in your Ps3 for a long time. The production values that went into this game are astronomical. The variety in gameplay is welcome, and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Without a doubt, Uncharted is a must buy for Ps3 owners, or just plain action adventure fans.

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~ by smithbubbajones on February 4, 2008.

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