Deep in the jungles of an undiscovered island lurks a legendary treasure. Known as El Dorado, this treasure has been sought by many, and now has fellow adventurer and lead character Nathan Drake out on a vigorous scavenger hunt to find it. Teamed up with a reporter, Nathan must jump, swing, and climb dozens of lanscapes to find new clues to the location of the mysterious gold statue. Developed by Naughty Dog, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune offers beautiful graphics, permissible gameplay regardless of issues, and great movie-quality storyline that makes for a great action adventure title.
The control scheme in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune seems to follow what is becoming an industry standard for 3rd person action games. Players will use a single button to perform many different actions whether it’s taking cover, leaping to ledges, or activating doors; the layout is set up to simplify the feel of the character. In Uncharted, this scheme is mapped to the triangle button, which is utilized to execute most of your interaction commands, including anything from kicking open rusty gates to jumping in vehicles. Then you have the square button, which handles your characters punches and combo attacks, leaving the circle as your cover and roll command and X for jumping. Moving on to the back buttons, L1 is used for aiming, R2 for reload, R trigger for fire, and L2 for manipulating the camera, allowing you to look around. You may also use the D-pad to switch through your weaponry and throw grenades.
It is rare to find a game that mixes third person shooter with platforming, and have both concepts work in harmony. More than often, it was refreshing to finally have a title that allows the user to have a great experience in leaping ledges and scaling cliffs, but then engage with intense shotgun battles with treasure hungry pirates. Naughty Dog has done a great job to push the limits and offer something that is unique, standing out from others in the genre.
One notable annoyance in the game was when it came to jumping from one cling hole to another, as it was hard to tell where exactly Drake was jumping. Sometimes it shows his head turn, looking back, when making a backwards leap, or he will look up if you were looking to scale upwards. Sometimes it was hard to get him in this situation, leading to a blinded bound, occasionally resulting in death. Other than that, the jumping controls in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune are perfect for it is pace allowing easier jumps.
The cover system in Uncharted is easier to use, but a lot of it felt like Gears of War. When near a wall or protruding chunk stone, simply press circle and Nathan will lean against the object for cover. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune relies too much on cover mechanics to keep the gameplay fresh for long. There are moments for stealth attacks, but these are hardly the most interesting moments of the game. Naughty Dog should have not placed so much emphasis on the cover mechanics that leads this treasure hunter into another corridor shooter. Even though Uncharted does not have chainsaws and what not, there is a similar feel of pace which gets annoying.
Naughty Dog added the ability to throw grenades and balance across fallen trees, both using the SIXAXIS motion controller. This, however, does not add anything to the overall gameplay and seems as though it could do just as well without this feature.
One element that in many games is often overlooked is the soundtrack. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Naughty Dog took this feature to a whole new level. Not only do they offer an amazing music score composed by Greg Edmonson, but also the movie-quality voice acting and dialogue is equivalent to Heavenly Sword. The voice actors add a degree of emotion to the characters in the game, and the ambient sounds of the jungle makes players already feel as if they are Nathan Drake.
Gorgeous vast jungle environments, incredible waterfalls and streams, and real-time shadows and lighting are all things that help make Uncharted Drake’s Fortune one of the most beautiful PlayStation 3 games to date. The game employs an assortment of the latest technology and effects, including Global Illumination, Parallax Mapping, and Wave Simulation water based physics. Whether you are walking through the forestation, or strolling through the 400-year-old ancient Mayan temples, the detail spent in bringing the world to life is truly astonishing. Naughty Dog has also stated to us directly that all the textures are hand painted using references from photos giving it a colorful yet natural look, and using their “Wrinkle Mapping” technology they have created realistic and reactionary facial expressions for the characters within the game.
Naughty Dog has produced a decent title, but one far from a triple-A one. The art direction is amazing, the soundtrack is engaging, and the characters themselves come to life but unfortunately the lack of an online component, repetitive gameplay, and many more annoying mechanisms makes Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune just another decent bordering on ordinary shooter for the PlayStation 3 but still manages to tell a great action adventure story.