Review by Mad_Ogre
"An average game bogged down with gameplay issues"
In terms of gameplay, the vast majority of the game is shootouts, and the rest is platforming sections and 'puzzles.' Let's get one thing straight: there are no puzzles in this game worthy of being called a puzzle. The game spoonfeeds you exactly what you have to do for each and every one, so that you barely need to engage your brain whatsoever. Also, very few of the platforming sections are actually good, there's nothing here that other games have not done better. So, in terms of gameplay, this leaves the action with the responsibility of carrying the game and, ultimately, it does not succeed.
I played the game on the hardest difficulty you could select from the start (beating the game unlocks the hardest difficulty), and I had no trouble beating the game after about 7 hours of play, in total. I have several gripes with the gameplay, which I will go into now. The first is that a lot of the enemies can take an absolute shelf-load of bullets to die if you're not headshotting every last one of them, and this has a bearing on the way the game plays out. At several points in the game I found myself being overrun by enemies with precious little I could do about it - I haven't played this game on any of the easier settings, but the game pretty much forces you to take advantage of the cover system (which is similar to the Gears of War system), otherwise you are punished with death at an alarming speed - at least, on the difficulty I played on. So you're taking cover behind a wall or something and in quite a few areas it is very difficult not to be outflanked by the enemy. There were at least three areas of the game where I found myself resorting to cheap tactics, such as triggering a fight and then running back into the previous area or into an enclosed space, so as not to fall victim to this problem. The reason this problem arises is that the game does not give you the flexibility to come up with an answer to it... If you see three enemies flanking you from the left, for instance, you have the following problems:
1) You cannot pop out to shoot at them without exposing yourself to every other enemy you are locked in combat with
2) If you are behind a low wall, this is an even bigger problem, because there is no way to leave the cover of the wall without Nathan Drake standing up and exposing himself completely. If you're behind a high wall then you can leave the cover and then aim manually at whoever is flanking you.
3) Because of the number of bullets it takes to put down one enemy, unless you're some kind of heashot machine, means that - even if you are otherwise unpressured - you just simply cannot kill all the enemies in one clean swoop.
4) There might not be anywhere else for you to go - often you are left unable to retreat, therefore once you've been flanked you are vulnerable no matter where you go to, if you go round the corner to get away from those who are flanking you, then the rest of your enemies will lay waste to you from your right hand side.
These problems mean you can find yourself hopelessly overcome by enemies, without being able to kill them fast enough to remedy the problem... I guess this problem could be summed up by saying that the game has decent enemy AI, but does not give you enough flexibility to combat it, which leaves you to fend for youself with the cheapest strategies under the sun. There are still more gripes with the gameplay mechanics: sometimes Drake has this stubborn refusal to leave cover, at the most inopportune moments your character will hop to another wall for cover, rather than just leaving the cover he is currently in, or he will start taking cover behind some random wall when all you wanted to do was perform the roll dodge (which is the same button). The number of times I tried to dodge an enemy, only to have Drake complete the dodge move (yes, he still carries out the dodge) only to cling to some wall at the end of it and ruin the entire plan. This really is frustrating, and at times I found myself shouting 'get off the wall!' Finally, the game really loves to starve you of ammunition throughout. The amount you can carry at any one time is sometimes not even enough to get you through one fight, which leaves you searching in desperation for more ammo during the fight, which can lead to some tense moments, I don't think I ever died for this reason, though, but I did have to return to the previous area once or twice to find another gun.
The gameplay is just not varied enough, there are a few vehicle sections which were actually quite fun (possibly the most fun to be offered in the game), and the platforming and 'puzzles' can provide a bit of a break, but the game is quite simply just fight after fight relentlessly.
The sounds and the graphics do create quite an atmospheric experience, particularly toward the end of the game, and the game should be given full credit for this. The voice acting is pretty good, too. The story itself, on the other hand, really didn't drag me in at all - I wasn't really too concerned about any of it, at any point.
The game will hold some level of replayability, there is another difficulty mode there, and there are plenty of hidden treasures to be found throughout the levels which unlock bonus material. I, on the other hand, plan to move on swiftly to uncharted 2, to see what 'hidden treasures' lie in wait for me there. I just quite simply can't bare the thought of playing the game on the 'crushing' difficulty setting, I usually enjoy a challenge but I can see it being a trail of frustrations from start to finish, as the difficulty will serve only to accentuate the problems I have mentioned here. I would not recommend buying this game, do yourself a favour and just rent it.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 07/19/10
Game Release: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (Platinum) (EU, 08/01/08)
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