Described as a tale of the modern day Indiana Jones, Uncharted: Drakes Fortune, an exclusive release to the Playstation 3, sees you travel deep into a remote island of the Pacific in search of the fabled treasure of El Darado.
It all starts out with the discovery of a 400 year-old clue found by Nathan Drake, a descendant of Sir Frances Drake, who himself was once a renowned treasure hunter. The clue speaks of the treasure El Dorado buried deep in a forgotten island of the pacific. However Nathan Drake is not the only one on the hunt to unlock the secrets of the island, and soon finds himself going from the hunter to the hunted.
The story sounds somewhat exciting, but it doesn’t really take off after the opening few scenes. Throwing in a few twists or possibly building on various characters would have helped the story establish itself better, and it probably would’ve given gamers more of a satisfying feeling at the end. However you’ll be pleased to know though that the failure of the story to express itself doesn’t hinder the gameplay.
Drake's Fortune is split across various chapters which see you venture deep into the jungle, navigate through ancient ruins, and travel upstream through the jungle rivers. Along the way you’ll need to solve various puzzles with the use of Sir Frances Drake's dairy which holds many clues to the treasure. The more you discover and the more you achieve will unlock many great treasures in the game, and change the mechanics of how you play, so it is beneficial to pay attention to your surroundings.
Visually the detail commited to the various parts of Drakes Fortune are impressive, and you’ll notice it from the outset. You’ll see it from the shimmering of the water to the shadows being cast from the sun. It all mixes in well with the openness of the various levels and gives it a bit more life than what we have seen in other games of similar nature. But as open and as great looking as the game is, it sadly doesn’t let you venture too far to explore. Given this is a treasure hunt, we would have thought it would’ve had more of an exploratory environment with many hidden treasures to be found.
The gameplay though is what kept us interested, and was more than enough to make up for some of the downers of Drakes Fortune. The combat system is unique in a sense that combat is strategic, but in a casual sort of a way. Nathan Drake is unlike your normal character in that he is not a Government agent so hasn’t got that steel look about him, nor is he your great adventurer, so he doesn’t have that "I know what I’m doing" feel. He is portrayed as your average bloke and moves in a casual way, as he rolls and dives for cover. Its an interesting style and moves away from the more traditional robotic feel you get with many of the espionage games seen today.
However like many of the espionage games, there is plenty of shooting to be had. Mercenaries come out thick and fast, and come from all angles, including snipers in the high rises of the ruins. The shoot outs are great, and although they may seem never ending and a bit repetitive, the different approaches you can take and vast differences in the various levels gives you a better feel than the “chore” feeling you get in similar situations.
The shoot out wouldn’t be good without some decent artillery, so to assist, your arsenal varies from your standard hand guns to sniper rifles, shot guns, grenade launchers and automatic weapons. If you run out of ammo, then you could always revert to hand to hand combat. A lot of your arsenal is collected from fallen mercenaries and hidden sections in some levels. The downfall though is your limited to what you can carry, so choose wisely.
You’ll come across other characters of the game who assist, but we’re not sure what value they add. In the heat of a shoot out you concentrate more on what your doing, but from what we did note is that they either disappeared, or they fired off a few aimless shots while hiding from the many mercenaries rolling out.
The interesting thing we found when under attack (or more when you get shot) is that Drakes Fortune goes into a slow mo state with the screen going greyish. This is a way of showing how much damage Nathan is taking, but it is a bit difficult to tell how far you can push the boundaries before you need to take cover to recuperate. A simple health bar would have been good, and provided more of a gauge of where you are at.
With all the new mechanics introduced in Uncharted; Drakes Fortune, the control system is relatively easy to get a handle on. It won't take you long before you know how to pop in and out for some quick shots, dive for cover, leap to a cliff hanger situation, fire off a few covering rounds or take down enemies with a few swift moves. The difficulty comes more in the form of what you need to do rather than how you do it.
Uncharted; Drakes Fortune has its pros and cons, but by far the pros outnumber the cons. The storyline isn’t Oscar nominated material, but the gameplay is great offering a variety to keep you entertained for hours on end. You never know, a series might even pop out of this find - and if it does then we are definitely not complaining.