Nov 14, 2007
Despite all appearances, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune isn't just Tomb Raider without the breasts. Yes, the combination of jungle settings, treasure-filled ruins and explosive gunplay looks a little too familiar; but after five minutes with Uncharted, you'll know it's something special. Behind the brilliant visuals and seemingly been-there, done-that scenario, this game has a lot of heart.
Borrowing its atmosphere from 1930s pulp novels and adventure serials, Uncharted follows cocky, smirking adventurer Nathan Drake (a descendant of the legendary Sir Francis Drake) as he retraces the steps of his famous ancestor in an attempt to find the mother of all lost treasures. Along for the ride are Drake's business partner Sully, a likable old seaplane pilot, and Elena Fisher, a remarkably tough TV documentarian who tags along to make a show about the whole thing.
Naturally, what starts as a simple treasure hunt rapidly unravels into a twisting adventure yarn involving pirates, mercenaries, dead Nazis, a mysteriously vanished Spanish colony and at least one U-boat suspiciously parked atop an Amazonian waterfall. The writing is snappy, the characters are endearing and the visuals are stunning throughout. If only the actual gameplay was as consistently awesome, it'd have Game of the Year written all over it.
You'll spend the majority of your time in Uncharted doing one of two things: leaping through precarious, improbable, Prince of Persia-style jumping puzzles, or shooting it out with ragtag bands of multicultural, armed-to-the-teeth pirates. The jumping puzzles (and the exploration in general) are a lot of fun, although they're a little too easy; your path is laid out pretty clearly, and the jumps don't require a lot of precision to make successfully; Drake generally knows what he's doing, and he's not going to let you mess it up for him by being slightly off the mark. What's more, on the rare occasions where you're not sure where to go, a leap of faith will often be rewarded with a conveniently placed handhold.
Still, the prettiness and diversity of the areas you'll explore (as well as Drake's comical uncertainty as to how to approach them) make these sequences rewarding, and - once you've played long enough to get the timing down - rapidly monkeying through them is kind of cool.