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Uncharted: Drake's Fortune review

There's no disputing this globe-trotting adventure looks amazing - but how does it play?

Then there are the parts where you'll need to commandeer a Jet Ski (or maybe it's a Sea-Doo; whatever) and ride through flooded ruins or beautiful rapids while Elena rides shotgun and takes out any hazards or baddies. These should be some of the game's fastest, most liberating sequences, but instead they're its clunkiest moments; your personal watercraft is kind of slow and frustratingly difficult to control (especially on rapids), and if you want Elena to shoot anything - which she'll frequently have to do - you'll have to stop, dead in the water, so that she can stand up, aim carefully and completely destroy any sense of speed or momentum you might have built up. To be honest, the level where you ride on the back of an on-rails jeep and shoot at pursuing vehicles is a lot more fun, not to mention much faster.

Finally, there are the puzzles, which come along rarely and usually have simple solutions, which are all but handed to you on a platter by the hints in Sir Francis Drake's diary, which Nathan Drake carries with him through much of the game. Despite the ease, they're diverse and fun, ranging from figuring out how to burn away a bunch of debris to turning a series of statues in order to open a secret passage - just don't expect much of a challenge from them.

Despite any complaints with the gameplay, Uncharted is extremely good at crafting a fun, immersive atmosphere that's at turns comical and terrifying. A lot of this is down to its characters - Drake in particular is endlessly likable, being one of those heroes who succeeds through sheer grit and dumb luck despite being constantly out of his depth (think Nathan Fillion in Firefly). Drake's sidekicks are similarly endearing, with vividly expressive faces and charmingly devious personalities, and you might even find yourself getting attached to a few of the bad guys in spite of yourself. It doesn't hurt that the game is a technical showcase, either, featuring beautiful environments, amazing water effects and a wide variety of expressive foes that react dynamically to whatever you're doing and who rarely seem to say the same thing twice. (On the other hand, this being a PS3 game, there's some occasional visual tearing, but it's nothing too severe.)

Also of note is Uncharted's "Medals" system, which parallels Xbox Live Achievements in that it awards players points (1,000 in total) for doing cool stuff like killing 50 enemies in a row without dying. The difference is that earning these actually does something within the game, unlocking new cheats and extras as you gain them. And the cheats themselves can actually be pretty entertaining, ranging from alternate costumes for various characters to instantly accessible guns to a "Next Gen" filter, which turns everything brown and slathers lots of inappropriate bloom-lighting effects everywhere. To hell with eventually seeing useless trophies in Home - this is what we'd like to see PS3 games do more of.

More Info

GenreAction
DescriptionMixes uneven platforming and Gears of War-style gunplay with one of the best-looking, most immersive stories on the PS3.
Franchise nameUncharted
UK franchise nameUncharted
PlatformPS3
US censor ratingTeen
UK censor rating16+
Release date16 November 2007 (US), 19 November 2007 (UK)