Uncharted: Drake's Fortune


by Angela Simpson
author awarded score: 90/100

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Review
Publisher: Sony
Developer: Naughty dog
Format Reviewed: PS3
Reviewed by: Angela Simpson

It's difficult to write this review without stating the obvious and making even more obvious comparisons, so let's get that out of the way....

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was switfly coined 'Dude Raider' by many in the gaming press and upon viewing trailers it wasn't difficult to see why. Uncharted follows the story of protagonist Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter and apparent relative of the childless Sir Francis Drake. Nate is a guy who can run, shoot, climb, swing, swim and do pretty much everything Lara Croft does, all in a setting Ms Croft would feel right at home in, he even grunts in the same manner when landing a fall. With all of the similarities it was quite difficult to get the fact you're playing this type of game without Lara out of your mind, she is after all the queen of the raiding of the tomb and some male upstart thinking he can tread on her territory was actually kind of annoying--then it happened....

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

You forget about Lara, you forget that you're essentially playing a Tomb Raider title without her, that she's been somewhat replaced by this handsome, rogueish smart ass, in fact, you kind of wish that Tomb Raider had some of the things Uncharted: Drake's Fortune has (including the cool female sidekick - Elena Fisher). Developers Naughty Dog seemingly manage the impossible, they take one of the most famous games in the history of gaming, rip it off to the enth degree and come up with something as good, if not slightly better (missing female gaming lead aside).

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is a beautful title and it's great to see Naughty Dog didn't skimp on any area. The graphics are so astonishing even Nathan Drake's t-shirt wrinkles when he moves and although this is a seemingly small addition, there are plenty of them and they all add up to a resplendent title. The environments, which include rain forests, ruins, wrecks and more are beautiful, detailed and almost alive. Lighting is gorgeous, water almost perfect and character models filled with emotion and life (though not to the level of say Heavenly Sword). There's really no words to describe how wondrous this title is graphically and environments differ enough to keep things interesting. Here's hoping Eidos and Crystal Dynamics repay the borrow ethos clearly used here and borrow all these wonderful editions from Uncharted in their next Tomb Raider title. Sound wise, again Uncharted is wonderful, the musical score is superb and atmospheric. Voice acting is great, adding a lot of emotion to the characters.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

The gameplay mechanic of Drake's Fortune is also so well tweaked you'll love every minute of it (a few niggly camera issues aside). Nathan Drake features all of Lara's classic movies, with much leaping, pulling, shimmying and edge teetering mayhem - all of which is very forgiving, making the game less frustrating and more playable as you will almost always have time to react and catch yourself. The camera is also cleverly done as it will swing into the most handy position on most given puzzles, thus placing you on the right path or with the best vantage to progress through the level. If you get stuck in the game a handy 'hint' feature appears where you press one of the shoulder buttons and Nate will look in the direction of something tied into what he's meant to be doing. This approach means it doesn't give the entire thing away, but is generally enough of a hint to get you moving (not that you'll need it). Combat in Uncharted features a lot of shooting bad guys, or you can take them on in melee; generally though you're better off finding cover and taking them out with firearms, which range from pistols, assault rifles, grenades (and launcher), sniper rifle and shotguns. The AI isn't too bad and seemed to get better as the game progressed, still not perfect, but clever enough to try and flush you out of cover or outflank you, all whilst they try and stay in cover themselves. On the downside, you'll shoot a LOT of 'bad guys' and it is this repetitive run and gun design that lets things down ever so slightly.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

Female gamers ahoy, although you don't get to play intrepid reporter Elena Fisher in the game, she is an integral part of the story and is really cool. She's also not your average 'eye candy' babe, which makes a nice change. Not to say she isn't uber cute, just that she's more about being attractive, smart and witty than breasts, jiggle, breasts--which is fantastic needless to say since it means she actually has depth. She's also pretty witty and you'll love her and Nates repartee as the game continues.

Overall Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is astonishing. It's hard to get to grips with the fact that a game that so blatantly rips off one of my personal all time favorite titles could be enjoyed so much by me. I feel like a bit of a turncoat for even suggesting that Uncharted actually out does Lara and her Tomb Raiding ways on various levels, but a review is about honesty in ones opinion, so there it is... Crystal Dynamics could make the next Tomb Raider title even better by playing through Uncharted and borrowing from it, as it heftily borrowed from them, only to better it. If you're wanting a fresh (albeit linear) action adventure title on the PS3, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is fantastic, it makes me sad for anyone that doesn't own a PS3.