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Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Member Review for the PS3

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

What do these ratings mean?

I've been reluctant to buy a PlayStation 3 for quite some time now.  Each time I think about buying one, something in the back of my head speaks up and says "You don't really want that, your money could be put to better use.  I mean come on, $400 could buy you a lot of other stuff too."

A couple weeks ago I finally told that little voice in my head to shut the hell up.  I went online and ordered an 80 gigabyte PS3 from Amazon, and with it I ordered Metal Gear Solid 4 and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.  I had always been interested in Uncharted since its launch back in 2007, and I was very eager to try it out, especially after reading such positive reviews.  I wanted to play it so badly I actually popped that disc into my new baby before Metal Gear Solid and, let me say, as the first game I have ever played on Sony's latest, Uncharted blew me away.

The game is made by Naughty Dog studios who have previously brought us the Crash Bandicoot series (PlayStation), the Jak and Daxter series (PlayStation 2), and following the trend of a new series on each generation of Sony, the soon-to-become-a-series, Uncharted.  Each one of these series have been equally more impressive than the previous, and each main character (Crash, Jak/Daxter, and Nathan Drake) have a special spot in the hearts of most gamers.

But enough with the reflection of consoles past.  That isn't what I'm here for.  I'm here to tell you about Uncharted.  Bare in mind that this is my first review in a couple years so I may be rusty at the format, but I'm gonna try to do this one the same way as my previous ones.

The Graphics
It seems as though gamers today (at least younger ones) won't look at a game unless its graphics are good.  That's not really the case for me, but I do have to say that in an adventure game such as this they really do help when they're top-notch so that you can notice more.  That being said, the artwork and textures in Uncharted are second to none.  Each area has its own lighitng effects, shadows, and vibrant colors.  You really do feel like you're in the jungle while you play through this title.  And to mention, unlike many titles out there today that focus more on darker colors to emphasize... something or other, this game has a lot of light.  And that's a very, very good thing.  The animation is flawless, and the little details added into this game (like when you get out of water you've been swimming in Drake looks soaked, and you can watch him dry off slowly) truely make this a memorable experience.

Not to say that they are 100% fantastic though.  They're close, but the fact that this game opts to not install some data to the PS3's HDD and run from the disc entirely instead does mean that you're going to see some texture pop-ins every now and then.  When you notice these, you eyes may scream for a second, but no longer.  The textures do load in relatively quickly.

If buying this game however, please, please, please make sure that your PlayStation has an HDMI cable so you can run it in either 1080i or 1080p respectively.  It makes a world of difference.

The Story
The story to Uncharted decided to take some traditional routes in terms of videogames, and influecnes from 1930's style pulp adventure movies, and films in that genre such as "Indianna Jones."  Your adventure begins with the main character (and the guy you control) Nathan Drake SCUBA diving off the coast of Panama in search of the coffin of Sir Francis Drake.  If you haven't guessed by the similar last name, the game implies that although historically Francis Drake didn't have any children, Nathan Drake is his descendant.  When the coffin is found, Drake discovers that his theory was right and Sir Francis was not buried there, because the coffin its self is empty, safe for Francis Drake's journal.  Nathan knows right away that this is a clue to finding Francis Drake's greatest discovery ever, El Dorado.

Now, Nathan Drake doesn't travel alone.  With him is a reporter, Elana Fisher, and Drake's trusty treasure hunting companion, Victor "Sully" Sullivan.  Initially Elana's television station was funding the expedition to find Francis Drake's coffin, but as the story progresses she becomes more of a sidekick to Drake than a reporter.  Sully, on the other hand, has an unsettled debt with a man named Gabriel Roman, who shoots Sully early on and, believing him to be dead, Drake and Elana run off to at least finish the hunt in Sully's memory.

The Gameplay
Similar to the puzzle/action/platforming series Prince of Persia, Uncharted will have you getting into many different fights (granted, these are gunfights, and not sword and knife fights), climbing up ledges, solving puzzles, and doing it all over again in order to play through.  One issue I had with this was that I felt there was too much gunfire and not enough figuring things out, but that's a small compaint in the overall greatness of this game.  There will even be some shorter sequences that will have you either controlling a turret on the back of a jeep to keep enemies away, or driving a jet ski while firing either a powerful pistol or grenade launcher.
In terms of weapons to be had, there are quite a few.  Nate can only carry one pistol and one assault rifle/shotgun at a time, but each one comes with its own set of trophies for number of kills achieved with it, which will probably have you playing through the game a couple different times.

Also, hidden throughout the game are different treasures that you can find which unlock bonus content such as artwork, videos, and unlimited ammunition for different weapons.  There are sixty in total, and although a few are easy to find (they're pretty much right in front of your nose), I only found a third of them my first time through this game.  It's safe to say I'm going back in to get more.

Unfortunately this game is only about 6-10 hours long, possibly more if you play it on the hardest difficulty which gets unlocked when you beat the game once, but the bonus content in the game, and the story told is fantastic, funny, and will keep you captivated throughout.  When it ends all you can think is I want more!

+Great story
+Great gameplay
+NPCs actually helpful
+Leaves you wanting more
-Some mechanics to be refined
-Less battles, more platforming please
-Vehicle parts less memorable than hoped
-No online multiplayer, but that is included in the sequel.

More information about Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
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