Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune Bits


Summary

Description: Indiana Jones meets Gears of War.

Conveniences: Hidden treasures sparkle periodically; when stuck, the player can eventually get a hint by pressing a button to point the camera at the next objective.

Annoyances: Horribly slow and unintuitive boating sections; wonky and excessive combat.

Standouts: A treasure hunting romp that feels like a Hollywood flick.

Bits

  • Great variety in animations based on player actions. Drake can land on top of a platform, hit it at waist level, hang off of it with both hands, barely grab its edge with one hand, etc.
  • Environment-specific animations and add a nice sense of realism, e.g., Drake gently grabbing the side of a u-boat’s hatchway as he squeezes through it.
  • Lots of fun environment-traversal such as swinging from ropes and shimmying across ledges. Some outcroppings crumble, leading to instant deaths, but also provide an extra bit of tension.
  • Traps are only used in one area, and feel rather clunky due to their large quantity, the difficulty in discerning whether they’ve been triggered or not (the tripwires seem to stay taut), and their unforgiving quick-time events.
  • A few interactions require unique input, and are somewhat hit and miss. Twisting the analog stick to rotate an emblem on a statue makes sense, but using the Sixaxis’ motion controls to balance on a log happens only twice (in quick succession) and seems hastily thrown in.
  • Drake’s journal serves as a nice hint-dispensing device that’s consistent with the game world. Unfortunately, bringing it up tends to zoom in on muddy floor textures rather than displaying it side-by-side with the environment (a la L.A. Noire’s case notebook).
  • Combat and puzzle solving are done in entirely separate segments, although it’s possible for the two to bleed into each other. This works well when hanging off ledges while firing at enemies, but can also cause awkwardness when the camera pans away during a firefight to help showcase a puzzle.
  • The overall combat is not quite up to bar with Uncharted’s contemporaries. Enemies tend to awkwardly crab-walk exasperating the slow aiming, defeated foes rarely drop the cool weapons they use, the targeting reticle is circular and makes it tough to line up precise shots, hand-to-hand combat lacks proper cues and impact, and the battlefields are so big (and the aim-zoom so minuscule) that targets are often only a few pixels in size.
  • Random treasures are strewn about the game and provide bonuses when collected. Although their 3D models are often reused, they provide tangible rewards for exploration while staying true to the theme of the game.

Extras

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  1. #1 by Matthew Carl on March 5, 2012 - 10:36 am

    All the Uncharted games have had the problem of dissonance via combat. Too many bloody murders for wise-cracking characters and all.

    I also found the original quite repetitive. It’s all jungles and ruins and not much more.

    • #2 by The Management on March 5, 2012 - 2:25 pm

      The sequel definitely had more variety, and improved the combat quite a bit.

      The dissonance is a common criticism, though, and I tend to agree. My favourite part of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was the first hour or so (not counting the shooting tutorial) that had no combat and focused on exploration, puzzles, and cutscenes.

  2. #3 by owen on March 8, 2012 - 2:57 pm

    This is the kinda game being released nowadays that you can watch a 5 hour playthrough on youtube and get the same experience as actually playing it yourself. I may play it eventually but there is not real need to do so right now. I also hate armed men with nothing better to do than to wait around in a forest for all day for you to come along.

    • #4 by The Management on March 8, 2012 - 3:06 pm

      Yes, the linear-blockbusters are usually conveyed quite well via playthroughs. To be fair, Uncharted does a decent job of explaining the soldiers’ presence, but I found the game lacking compared to its sequel.

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