Review by belenbaa

"Jumpin' Shootin' Fun"

If Pit Fall and Tomb Raider had a baby, it would be Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. That baby would be a beautiful adventure across a Caribbean island. Nathan Drake, Elena Fisher, and Victor Sullivan are on the search for El Dorado, the the lost treasure of Sir Francis Drake. They're not the only people looking, though. Pirates still patrol the waters of the Caribbean and loot this valuable is too good to pass up.

Uncharted's gameplay is broken up into two main areas. The traversing of the world, and the fighting of enemies.

Controlling Nathan Drake is easy, if sometimes awkward. Nathan climbs through the broken ruins of a Spanish fort with ease. He jumps gaps, swings along with vines, and throws himself from ledge to ledge. Uncharted's camera will move to highlight where Nathan should move next as well as giving him a great angle to do it by. These things are so good that you will never notice them. They will blend into the background as you move Nathan from one gorgeous scene to another. Unfortunately, this really brings attention to the times when the controls operate awkwardly.

Nathan's jumps in a long, straight path. He lumps in the direction he was running and lands without a fault. The downside to this is that you need to know exactly which direction Nathan is running in order to make a jump. Most of the time, this isn't an issue. It's only when he has less than two full strides that it is difficult to see exactly which direction he is going to jump in. If you're wrong, then you can enjoy watching as Nathan jumps to his death and there is nothing that you can do about it.

The circle button allows Nathan to take cover behind needed protection. The circle button also makes Nathan dodge and avoid enemy fire. Cover is taken when you are not moving Nathan, dodging is when you are. Easy enough on paper, but sometimes deadly in a battle. Together, they lead to situations where Nathan needed to take cover behind a low wall to save himself from enemies, but vaulted himself out into gunfire instead; Or, when Nathan was running for cover only to have Nathan jump from behind cover and into the open.

Luckily, Uncharted's action, mostly, lives and dies by it's shooting mechanics, and, for the most part, they're really well done. Shooting controls respond well. Their sensitive and allow for some really precise aiming.

The most unwieldy of the game's action controls is throwing grenades. The six-axis controller is used to move the depth at which Nathan throws, while the right analog aims left and right. There is a measured learning curve for how Nathan throws a grenade, but this is at most learned and never mastered.

Uncharted's cursor expands outward as Nathan continues to shoot, but works, kind of, like a reverse from the style popularized by Tom Clancy games. Instead of building down for increased accuracy, Uncharted's cursor snaps back to a default accuracy and bulges further outward as he shoots. This encourages a shooting style of short, controlled bursts.

Ammunition control is also an important part of Uncharted's gameplay. Uncharted's weapons all fall into one of three categories: pistols, rifles/shotguns, and grenades. Left, right, and down switch between each category respectively. Weapons and ammunition are collected off of fallen enemies. Nathan can often find himself full of ammunition, but careful balancing of how much he can carry creates tension as he always scrambles for more.

It's the creation of feelings like this that really make Uncharted shine. They come together to create an experience where you are having an adventure with Nathan, Elena, and Sullivan. It's beautiful sunsets and dramatic, crashing waterfalls that bind everything together. It's fearing for your life as you make jumps that you don't quit know if you can make and connecting on the other side with only the tips of his fingers. Nathan is never a more-than-human hero. He;s barely even a protagonist. Nathan is a treasure hunter, playful scoundrel, and reluctant hero.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/09/09

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

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