Review by Nosferatu_Z0dd

"A game that actually feels next-gen? Finally!"

Uncharted is a game that I never really payed attention to. Quite some time ago I read a big article about it in Game Informer, but it sounded pretty uninteresting, so I just blew it off. It wasn't until right before Christmas I was actually interested in the game. I bought it off of ebay skeptically, then slowly waited until I could play it and see what the hype was about. Was it worth it?

So, what exactly is this game about? To start the game off, you observe two characters, Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher, cracking open a coffin a ship. Who's coffin is this? It's Sir Francis Drake's, the man that Nate believes to be a descendant of. Inside is a small journal with a very useful map showing clues to the location of the treasure of El Dorado. Nate is determined to find this treasure, but Elena is just there to get coverage for her low-budget TV show. There's also Sully, a good friend of Nate who helps his search, and also needs a fair share of the money from the treasure.

While on the ship, Nate and Elena get ambushed by modern day pirates. Who are these guys? Who do they work for? Why are they after Nate? What does Nate conclude about the treasure? I can't exactly answer any of these questions, that's for you to find out when you play. The story unfolds surprisingly well, with enough twists to make you wonder what's going to continue happening. Each main character, despite being somewhat cliched, are completely lovable. They're all actually believable and act like actual people. You really grow to care for them...I know I did.

Ok, so the story's good, but what about the gameplay? Uncharted shines there as well. There have been many complaints about how the game borrows too many elements from other games, and doesn't do anything we haven't seen before. Usually, I would find that as a problem, but Uncharted does all of these things in such a way and does them all so well that you won't even notice. The combination of these gameplay types in itself it quite unique. The main thing you'll be doing when you play Uncharted is fight off the hordes of pirates, using a cover based gunplay system(similar to Gears of War). You can carry one handgun, grenades, and a heavy weapon around with you to help take out the pirates. Cover can be taken from almost anywhere, so you just go up to a pillar, wall, bench etc, press O, and hide until you can get some shots off. By pressing L1 Nate will quickly pop out and you can shoot by pressing R1. Aiming is silky-smooth and controlling it couldn't be better. The enemies are also quite intelligent, they frequently take cover, accurately throw grenades, and flank you from all sides. Which reminds me: this game is very realistic. Your cover isn't indestructable, a lot of it can be destroyed or shot through, preventing you from staying in just one spot. Nate also dies very fast, and can only take a handful of gunshots before going down. You can also do hand-to-hand combat, by simply approaching an enemy and pressing square. There are only about three or four actual combos, but they have a variety of different animations, making over a dozen different moves to pull off. If an enemy is nearby, this is almost essential, because they usually try to beat you down first.

Vehicles also occasionally pop up during the adventure. You'll find yourself controlling a jet-ski while Elena handles a grenade launcher, and manning a mounted gun on the back of a moving jeep. This is just another great example of how varied the gameplay is. Oh, context-sensitive moments also come up at unexpected times, a la God of War and Resident Evil 4. They don't happen too often, so be ready.

Fighting isn't the only part of Uncharted's gameplay. When you're not dealing with the pirates, you explore the jungles, caves, or crypts that require some crazy platforming. Remember Prince of Persia? It's somewhat like that, only smoother and a bit more simplistic. Basically, if you see a ledge, crack in the wall, or anything like that, you just jump and hope you grab on. Falling is something you won't be doing; each jump is planned out so that as long as you're jumping in that direction, you'll make it, so that the frustration is kept at a low level. You'll be jumping across cliffs, swinging across vines, and climbing huge buildings with ease. This is a nice way to break up the combat and help keep the game interesting. But what else is there? Puzzles appear at somewhat unexpected moments too, and they usually have intriguing results. Unfortunately, most of the puzzles are extremely simple, and are near-impossible to get stuck on. Let's just hope they improve that in the sequel, shall we?

Thankfully, this all being presented in the best possible way. I'll say this right now: Uncharted has the best graphics I've ever seen up until now. Every plant, river, boulder, and character has an unbelievable amount of detail. The lighting can also enhance the look of many of the objects. Seriously, I don't even know how they did it. It, at times, actually looks real. That's not all, because the animations are life-like(thanks to superb motion capture) with almost everything you come by. Nate's shirt wrinkles accordingly to how he's walking, his muscles bulge depending on his position, the wildlife sways when he walks by...all of this makes for a truly great presentation.

It looks and feels good, but how does it sound? Let's just say that, along with having the best graphics I've ever seen, it also has the best voice acting I've ever heard in a game. Each voice for the characters just feel so natural and realistic. There's also quite a lot of witty dialogue to accompany it. The music is also incredibly fitting, ranging from epic, booming battle music to subtle, mystic jungle music perfect for exploration. Sound effects also pack a punch, and just fit right in PERFECTLY. Got surround sound? You better crank this game. Loud.

PROS
+Exceptionally fun and engrossing
+Very well paced and varied
+Most beautiful graphics I've seen yet
+Marvelous musical score
+Lovable characters with a good plot
+The whole game has movie-like feel to it

CONS
-The puzzles could've been harder

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is the best PS3 game to date, and if you own one, there is no reason not to buy this game. I haven't been this immersed in a game in years. This is also the first game to truly show off what the PS3 can do, and will be something for the ages. It's your loss if you don't buy this.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/28/08

Game Release: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (US, 11/16/07)


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