Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
03 December 2007
Review: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PS3)
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune tells the story of Nathan Drake as he seeks the treasure his ancestor, Sir Francis Drake, left hidden on a remote tropical island. A reporter, Elena, and his best friend, Sully, tag along for the ride. Vicious competitors arrive simultaneously and the two groups race to unlock the island's secrets and locate Drake's treasure.

All of the gameplay falls into two categories: movement puzzles and combat. Most of the former is unoriginal, but the lush scenery almost makes up for it. Combat takes over as the game reaches its climax, which helps the pacing but also reveals the game's design limitation. Fortunately, the brutal pack intelligence of the enemies makes every encounter a challenge, even when replaying the same scene. While you can effectively use cover to maximize your firepower, you can also be overwhelmed from the flank if you don't subdue the enemy quickly enough.

Able-bodied and lithe, Nate parkours through the island's jungle and hidden ruins with visible effort. And while he is armed, he lacks the action game genre's armor and health packs. Except for his amazingly steady aim, he is a very human actor. Recent Tomb Raider games have humanized Lara and smoothed her movement, but future entries in that series will rate poorly if they don't match Uncharted's standards for characterization and action.

The game's biggest weakness comes at the end when the near-realism is nearly jettisoned for a fantastical action game (and movie) cliche. Fortunately, the twist doesn't play out as ham-handedly as it first appears, nearly saving itself by the end. Redemption comes in a pivotal scene which feels ripped directly from a classic action movie I'll decline to name, but then plays out satisfyingly differently.

Uncharted isn't quite the personal revelation that Tomb Raider was in 1997 or that Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was in 2005, but it's still an awesome experience.

Technical note: While playing I experienced one hard lock that required me to reboot my PS3.

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--Matt Matthews at 19:38
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