Thursday, 4 February 2010

Retrospective - Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

  • Game: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
  • Format: PS3
  • First Released: November 20, 2007 (USA)
  • Developer: Naughty Dog
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Genre: Third Person Adventure

I know I'm late to the party. This game came out in 2007 just after the PS3's launch in Europe. I'm excused for being late for two reasons; firstly, I only got my PS3 in 2008 and, secondly, the PS3's just a glorified Blu-ray player, right? Wrong. Definitely wrong. And I'll tell you for why.

When you first load the game up the main thing that grabs your attention is the graphics. Everything is crisp, everything is clear and the backgrounds are gorgeous. A special mention has to go to the character models though, they truly are astounding. The developers have crammed the game disc with ten times more movement animations and 70-80 facial animations per character which when combined really enhance the game and succeeds in further drawing you into the game world.

So the game world looks real, but how does it sound? Pretty bloody good is how it sounds. The score is creepy when it needs to be, inquisitive when it wants to be, and downright dramatic the rest of the time. The music fulfills the objective of being atmospheric and adding a real sense of occasion to the play-through. A huge shout-out has to go to the voice actors. Nolan North does a great job of depicting the cocksure treasure hunter Drake but also, with the excellent character models, can portray sorrow, concern, pain, anguish, elation, bereavement, and any other emotion you wish to name. Other honourable mentions go to Sully and Elena who give the game some depth and perspective alongside Drake.

 Characters! Some of them!

The story is your typical treasure hunter scenario: Group A finds ancient clues that lead to treasure 1, group B steal it, group A get it back, both groups head towards the final destination where they inevitably cross paths and chaos ensues. It's all very National Treasure, but that's not to say it's not enjoyable. There's a bit of a twist around chapter 19 that left me feeling a tad bitter for being so predictable insomuch as it followed a typical videogame convention instead of sticking to what it was doing best, but the game soon explained itself and everything was forgiven. Well, nearly everything. The jetski sections are sure to haunt me for the rest of my life but thankfully they only occupy a minuscule amount of the overall game time.

"Aye, right, cheers Jambo but ye haven't told us aboot the game - ye've just gan an aboot facial animations and other bunkum." Alright! I'm getting there. I might even do it now. The game has a cover system - very similar to the Gears of War franchise's own - and it works great. Corners, boxes, fences, and bannisters provide excellent cover and the majority of it can be destroyed by a few bullets leaving you frantically scurrying around like fat kid who's misplaced his Freddo. The gunplay is also very satisfying with a nice range of pew-pews to choose from and they all feel crunchy and meaty.

 Shoot them! Shoot them with your gun!

The PS3 pad works very well with aiming and shooting being done with the L1 and R1 buttons. This is a great move as, quite frankly, the L2 and R2 buttons where these actions are conventionally mapped are rubbish on the DualShock3. The game also makes use of the SixAxis technology but thankfully it's few and far between. I don't say that because it's implemented poorly, I say that because motion control is a terrible, terrible idea that has only succeeded in saturating the games market with shovelware.

The game uses a few QTEs to advance the story but I feel these work very well within the context of the game. I know these can be controversial as a lot of gamers find them as a cheap way of forcing human interaction within a static scene, but I really enjoy them. So there!

All in all, Uncharted is an excellent game - worthy of any and all praise that is heaped at it, piling up by its feet. It's engrossing, encapsulating, atmospheric, delightful to look at and a pleasure to play. The game demands attention much the same way a Hollywood blockbuster does and it's certainly evident that films paid a huge part in the inspiration and design of the game so it comes as no surprise that an Uncharted film is currently being made. Games like this restore my faith in the PS3 as a console. Games like this restore my faith in videogames where bringing in a new IP is considered a costly risk. Games like this are why I play games in the first place. The promise of a second installment - already out - fills me with joy. Uncharted is the first PS3 exclusive I've played and thought: "y'know what, this is actually really good" and for that it can be considered a rare treasure indeed.

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Keith said...

Awesome retrospective Jambo - I could read your beautiful words all fucking day long.

Review the Selfish Crocodile next plz.