Late to the Game – Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

This is going to be the first in what may, but probably won’t, become a theme of reviewing older games that everyone other than myself has already played. You may have picked up on this fact from reading previous entries, but when it comes to console gaming, I very rarely play recent or new games. Buying them new is too expensive, and unless a game allegedly has a stellar multiplayer that I shouldn’t miss – I avoid it. Single player games experience is not going to change that much. This means that I often miss out on “hot” games that everyone needs to play, and to public ridicule when meeting other gamers. For instance – when I was in Virginia meeting with Mythic, I received incredulous responses from my fellow bloggers and developers when I admitted I had yet to finish Portal. As the title gives away, this post I’m going to talk about the first Uncharted, a game I finished a scant 12 hours previous. There will be spoilers.

If you don’t want to read further, here’s the synopsis:

Decent game: good story, splashy controls, crisp graphics, Tomb Raider meets Indian Jones.

I actually really enjoyed the story of the game. It kept me engaged the entire time. The voice acting was excellent, and I quickly picked up on the reason why fans everywhere were incensed over anyone other than Nathan Fillion playing the role of Drake in the upcoming movie. Our favorite space captain of Firefly seems to have proven himself in the type of role the protagonist falls into. The character is a fun, witty, sarcastic, and improvisational person. The skills he has in the game come off as accidental at times, to the point where it seems he bungles his way to success. It’s clear though that it only appears that way on the surface, and that it is underlined by a deep ability to respond to varying situations, and that Drake is the type of character who is able to quickly asses and create a response to adversity. So, what he may lack in technical ability, he makes up for with determination and adaptability. Just like Mal.

The gameplay itself was okay, but very splashy as I said. The controls felt loose, and hard to be precise with. Aiming was wonky at times, and the AI that caused targets to crabwalk behind cover struck me as odd for the majority of the game. The jumping and acrobatics never felt right either, it was a strange combination of being all over the place, but also strictly regimented. It had a feel of Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia games, only done wrong. For instance, when using wall ropes to swing-jump to a ledge, if you hit the jump button a second after the peak of your swing, Drake would just jump straight up in the air, instead of towards safety. If you jumped a second before, he would still make his landing. It’s as if an area was determined “success” and that as long as you pressed the button within that geographical window, the end result was the same, and I mean no variation in landing – whether barely grabbing the edge or a full-footed, sound landing was separate from how skillfully you timed your jump. It seemed to defy physics of what you would expect to happen. This was extra frustrating after acclimating to it for multiple hours, only to enter Escher’s realization of a room with staircases intertwined with each other and traps all over, jumping from ledges to perpendicular stair cases, needing to align Drake perfectly to hit the mark.

The appearance of the game was hard to rival. Water and fire – two incredible hard things to get right, looked amazing in this game, and nice little touches helped to make the game feel more actualized. Drake’s clothing going from wet to dry over time after a swim was a fun little detail that never got old for me. Background’s were vibrant and integrated well without seeming like a backdrop, it was done with an impression of actually viewing a distant horizon or location. Invisible walls were mostly not to be found, and when I did, they usually resided within the edge of foliage that was obviously too dense to penetrate.

Story wise, I was very pleased. Despite my pleasure at the running Nazi theme throughout, I was starting too wonder about something. How all the hired thugs kept getting into the areas I had to solve puzzles, and perform stunning acrobatics to get into? Not 10 minutes after that thought crept into my head, than a great twist was thrown my way. Ancient Spanish and Nazi vampires. Nazi vampires are always win. Not the pretty, sparkle vampires that female tweens enjoy today – no, these were Nosferatu looking mother fuckers, only fast as hell. Once those beasts showed up, I was frequently muttering curses, and “get off me!” at the TV. It was also great to see the paramilitary types coming after me fighting the monsters as I worked my way to the end, and the incredibly cheesy final chapter with the even-more-cheesy  one-shot-you boss.

I’m glad I didn’t buy the game when it came out, but that’s not a dig against the game. I just borrowed this from a friend, and am really surprised by how much I liked it, and would definitely suggest it being worthwhile if you can find it in a used bin, or get it for cheap on the PS3 classics deal. The trophies have a nice bonus system tied to it, that makes it worthwhile for completionists to get new experiences and new boons to gameplay – unlimited ammo, black & white, new outfits, and so on reached at certain point thresholds.

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About Shadow
Making serious business out of internet spaceships.

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