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Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Member Review for the PS3

Master_Craig By:
GENRE Action / Adventure 
DEVELOPER Naughty Dog 
T Contains Blood, Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

I picked this game up when I finally got a Sony Playstation 3 just last week. Came free in a bundle package. I heard the game was good, so I decided it would be my first game.

and what a way to kick off a new console.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune has been out for a little while now but hot damn, it is really good. The game starts out with our lead role, Nathan "Nate" Drake, uncovering the coffin of explorer Sir Francis Drake out in the middle of the ocean, along with reporter Elena Fisher. After opening the coffin, which nothing but Francis' diary inside, the two, along with Nate's older buddy Victor "Sully" Sullivan travel to a nearby island to uncover the treasure Francis Drake was seeking. All this, while being attacked by pirates, and then trying to beat the pirates to the treasure. It's all good.

My words are probably of poor selection for the story, I probably didn't make it sound very good. But really, it is. The voice acting is absolutely superb as is the motion capture animation and the actual graphics of the game. It's very cinematic, and will easily catch the player and viewers and draw them into the story. As it unfolds, things become much, much more interesting.

Speaking of graphics, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is one of the most beautiful games of 2007. Character models are very realistic and yet, they have a sorta cel shading style to them (somewhat difficult to explain). The colours are bright and the environment design is fantastic, with realistic textures and lighting. The blur effects look awesome and, yeah, it's just a beautiful game.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune also has the game play to match. There are pretty much three styles of game play in this game. You've got your regular movement and exploration, then you've got two styles of combat. Up close and personal hand to hand combat, or ranged combat with guns, which you'll be using quite often.

Exploration works very similar to the Ubisoft's Prince of Persia franchise, however to a more realistic extent. Nathan is extremely athletic and agile, capable of climbing over many obstacles, including ridiculously high walls in again, a Prince of Persia fashion. The only problem with this style of exploration, like jumping from cliff to cliff and whatnot, is it's very linear. The player will be wondering where to go, as you can only take one path to get into the next area, once the player finds this said path, they'll move on. Most of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune takes place on a tropical forest island, so it would be nice if the game was not so linear and had more freedom of movement.

As previously said, combat works in two ways. Guns, or melee. With guns it works like this. You can carry two weapons at a time (a sidearm, and a rifle of some sort) and grenades (so techinically three), weapons are selected with the controller's d-pad. The L1 button draws Nate's selected weapon, and R1 is fire. When you draw your weapon, the camera zooms closer behind Nate to a sort of over the shoulder view, very Resident Evil 4. Unlike Resident Evil 4 however, Nate is able to move while aiming his weapon.

But the most important factor of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, when it comes to using guns in combat, is taking cover, much inspired by Gears of War. Approaching walls and pressing circle will make Nate use the wall as cover, whether it's standing or crouching depending on the size of the wall. Cover is vital in this game, as unlike most games, Nate is quite fragile to gunfire. While behind cover, you can use the L1 button to quickly reveal yourself and return fire to the enemy. This element blends both strategy, and realism to the combat system. Although, some will argue that a regenerative health system is unrealistic, but we all do honestly get tired of seeing "medpacks" in most games these days. But anyway. When it comes to guns, most can be acquired by fallen enemies, from various pistols, to shotguns, AK-47s, and eventually grenade launchers. Lovely stuff, to blow someone up.

The unarmed combat system is simple, but extremely cool. Nate is clearly a capable brawler. Approaching enemies and pretty much spamming the square button will cause Nate to launch a flurry of un-repetitive combos until you drop your opponent. You can also dish out "brutal combos", basically more powerful attacks that lead to the enemy dropping quicker, and even having them drop more ammo than before. This can be done by slamming them once with square and then directly pressing triangle afterwards. With brutal combos, timing is everything, if you screw up then the enemy will retalliate and hit Nate back.
The most interesting thing I find about the melee combat system is that most combos and attacks, are not repetitive. Each combo usually looks different, and it's great and refreshing to see. You can also do some cool things like slamming guy's faces into walls, leaping punches, kicks to the groin, to snapping people's necks from behind, and even wrestling-style drop kicks. It's great, but the only problem with the melee combat system is it can't be used in a frantic situation involving a lot of gunfire. Otherwise, you're just going to get chewed up by bullets, and die.

The biggest, and most obvious issue with Uncharted: Drake's Fortune however, is how long the game is. Despite how fun and cinematic the game may be, it only lasts about seven or so hours. Nevertheless, unlike most short games, it's one hell of a ride, and there is quite a bit to unlock from extra costumes, to the making of-videos of the game, to artwork and whatnot. There's also a medal and achievement system, received on the stuff you do like, how many head shots you get, how many brutal combos you've achieved etc.

Overall, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is a fantastic addition to anyone's gaming library on the PS3. Precise and tight controls, wicked graphics and voice acting, with game play to match, these features all tower over the unfortunate flaws of the game.

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