I’m starting a new series on here that I’ll update periodically. It’s called “Late to the Party,” in which I will review things that have been out for a long time, but are new to me. For instance, I have never owned a PS3 (or any other console), so I’ve never played any PS3 games.
But thanks to the wonderful Boyfriend, who was gracious enough to let me borrow his PS3 for a while, I now have the ability to play games I never have before. My first one is Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.
The ship that started it all. Source
First, off, I have to say that this game is absolutely gorgeous. I had a blast running through the lush jungle, exploring the long-forgotten ruins, and stumbling my way through creepy catacombs. Wherever I was in the game, the surroundings felt perfect.
The music was also phenomenal. Perfectly suited to each environment, the composers clearly put a lot of effort into it. The music heightened the tension during the firefights and was nice and calming during those infuriating jumping puzzles (which I’ll get to in a little bit).
One area where I remember the music being especially impressive was beneath the ruined colony. The action alone made me want to crawl out of my skin (see spoiler-y bit below), but the haunting music on top of it was almost unbearable. I must have played through one section four more times than was necessary just because the music had me so freaked out that I kept getting killed.
The gameplay was also pretty good. Sure, I spent plenty of time yelling at my screen for Drake to “just hide already!” But overall, it was very well designed. It felt very similar to other games I’ve played, like Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed.
It had the hide-and-shoot combat style of Mass Effect coupled with the go-anywhere-climb-anything movement dynamics of Assassins Creed. Once I got used to the controls (remember, I’m still learning how to use the PS3 controller), I actually found the mechanics a lot of fun.
Sully and Drake about to discover something cool. Source
My simultaneously favorite and least favorite parts of this game were the jumping puzzles. There were a lot of them, and while I enjoy a challenge, I do not enjoy having to try to complete the same bloody puzzle thirty times. Even when they were easy to figure out, for some of them, you had to get the timing for a jump just right, or you’d be falling to your death.
Also, this game has no fall damage… until it does. You can jump twenty feet off of a giant boulder and be fine, but God help you if you jump twenty-one feet off of something when you weren’t supposed to. There’s either no fall damage at all, or you die immediately on impact.
Now that I’ve finished with the gameplay, I want to talk about the story, because this is a story game.
Right to left, Victor “Sully” Sullivan, Nathan Drake, and… documentary girl? Um, Eileen? Alana? Oh, Elena! Her name is Elena. Source
Stories are something you never really know about going into a game. I’ve played some games with great stories and terrible mechanics, and I’ve played some with lackluster stories and great mechanics. Uncharted just so happens to be a game with both fun gameplay and a really engaging story.
Uncharted is the story of the great-whatever grandson of famous explorer Sir Francis Drake. Without spoiling too much, I can tell you that Nathan Drake sets out to find the lost treasure of the explorer and gets a lot more than he bargained for.
SPOILERS in the next paragraph only.
(And quite frankly, a lot more than I bargained for. I had no idea what this game was about, and then, when most of the time Nathan and the documentary girl were fighting perfectly normal thugs with perfectly normal weapons, I did not expect to be assaulted by the Night of the Living Smeagols towards the end of the game. It. Was. Terrifying. I swear I nearly fell out of my hammock when those things showed up. I immediately hit pause on my game and, in the middle of my empty apartment, screamed at my TV, “What are those?!”)
Digression aside, the story was really interesting. It held the game together very well and gave the characters reasons to go exploring and picking fights all over the ruined city they end up at. To me, what made the story so good was Nathan Drake himself.
In an age where many of our “heroes” are really just horrible human beings that you wouldn’t want to be in the same room with, Nathan Drake seemed like a genuinely decent person. He had a childlike fascination and excitement with finding the treasure, but he wasn’t obsessive about. In fact, I was really surprised to find that, in one scene, he was perfectly willing to leave it all behind just to get himself and his friend out alive.
Over and over again, the reason that Drake continues to fight against the bad guys is that he’s worried about his friends getting hurt, or he feels that there’s a greater reason (a very, very good reason, btw) to stay where he is. He’s fun to play as at least partially because he seems like he’d be fun to hang out with.
Also, he’s apparently got the world’s strongest fingers. Seriously, watching him catch himself on some of those jumps made me wince internally at the carpal tunnel he must be developing.
I mean, the guy just has inhuman finger strength. Source.
All in all, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was a really fun game with great gameplay and a fantastic story. If you, like me, are Late to the Party, consider picking up the game. You won’t regret it.
By the way, The Boyfriend left me the next two games in the series, which I am looking forward to playing. I’ll probably do “Late to the Party” reviews of those too, once I get around to it.