The first time I saw the trailer for Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune I wasn’t overly excited about getting my hands on this game. Sure, it looked great, but just a little bit too much like Tomb Raider but with a dude (so back to Indiana Jones). Then when some folks over at 1UP got a change to play it, they described the main character as your normal dude who also acts like that. No über-hero, but someone you often get the feeling that he is scared, that he has a problem keeping his balance on a pole etc.
Late last year I saw some reviews and videos that pushed this title on my list of must-have games for the Playstation 3. And now that I’ve finished it, I have to say that this confidence wasn’t misplaced. Uncharted basically puts you as Nathan Drake – a descendant of Sir Francis Drake – on a treasure hunt for El Dorado. The whole game (except for the first and last level) takes place on 2 tropical island. Nothing to worry about, though: all that green doesn’t really get boring.
The fire-fights do, though. You kill probably a small town of mercs on your way to the end of the game which sometimes also triggers some remark from Nathan wondering where all these bad guys are coming from. That said, at least the combat system is good. If you’ve played games like Gear of War, you know what awaits you. The cover system is essentially the same yet without blind firing. There is also one melee attack … which I totally ignored. The emphasis here in on “one”. It’s a hit or miss here. You have to do a 3-hit-combo or the enemy hits you instead.
Besides this IMO useless feature that are also some small glitches. For instance in one of the later levels Nathan managed to move up some stairs without the lower part of his body getting a single animation ;-) But this was also the most severe bug I found. The rest of the game and esp. the presentation is top-notch. The graphics are just stunning – I noticed not a single popup –, when you walk through the ruins they really feel like ruins and the story is told in some gorgeous cut-scenes filled with humor :-) When I played Uncharted, I usually played it for a really long time (at least for me) simply because I was curious what would happen next.
A big help here was the save-system. Every about 5 minutes there is a save-point so even if you die (which will happen, esp. in the platformer parts) you won’t leave much time there. Only on some occasions were the save points not well placed. Sometimes they were right before a scripted event (most of the time accompanied by a short cutscene) and once during one of the jetski levels the save-points felt too far apart for me. But most of the time they were placed just fine.
One last thing, though: While I not concur with the rest of Ben Croshaw’s review, he’s absolutely right about the quicktime events in this game. They are annoying, uninspired … they are stupid. Most of the time the quicktime event consists of just one single button press and the save-point is right before you enter the QTE, not to mention that they drop you right out of the experience. Please Naughty Dog: Next time, just don’t add them.