by Chris Scott
reviewed on PS3
The Parts of a Whole
What happens if you were to take Indiana Jones, Dirk Pitt, Tomb Raider, and Gears of War and throw them in a blender called Naughty Dog and hit 'puree'? You would get Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, one of the first truly original games on the Playstation 3. Sure the game is cobbled together from a bunch of different cinematic, literary and gaming influences, but playing Uncharted is a welcome fresh breath of air. It is especially so in a gaming arena that has been saturated with First Person Shooters over the past year.
You will play as Nathan Drake, an amateur treasure hunter supposedly related to Sir Francis Drake; hence the fortune that the title indicates you will be seeking. The adventure starts out on a small fishing boat. You have just brought up a casket from the sea floor and after opening it up, you discover a diary with cryptic clues. Soon after, Drake and his pretty camera-wielding friend, Elena, are attacked by sea pirates and have to make a defensive stand. This is your first introduction to the gun and melee combat and cover system of the game. After a harrowing escape on your buddy Sully’s sea plane the real adventure begins.
Charting a Course
You will visit ruins, a Nazi submarine, an early Spanish settlement and a Nazi research center. Add in a tint of the supernatural and Uncharted has the makings of a great Action/Adventure story and, fittingly, the story in Uncharted is top notch and has perhaps the best narrative in a game on the Playstation 3 platform. Having a great story is only a piece of the overall puzzle when putting together a solid gaming experience. Fortunately Uncharted brings the goods with all the other pieces involved, some working out better than others.
To complement the game's well told story, the visuals are superb. While Uncharted doesn’t quite match the technical proficiency of a game such as Ratchet and Clank Future, Uncharted does have very unique art direction and would stand toe to toe with the best games on the XBOX 360. The game is a visual 'Tour de Force' and it is all done at a very solid frame rate which hardly ever dips noticeably. The colors are vibrant and beautiful, with everything looking cinematic. Being that developer Naughty Dog built the engine from the ground up, it will be nice to see what they can do with it upon further iterations.
The audio does justice to the story and visuals. Uncharted features a rousing soundtrack by Greg Edmonson, who has previously composed the soundtrack for the Sci-Fi TV show Firefly. Edmonson does a wonderful job of building upon the emotional structure of the game, especially when the game calls for tension to be building. The sound effects are equally fantastic giving an atmosphere that -when teamed with the musical score- sets Uncharted on the level of a theatrical production. Then there is the matter of the voice acting. Naughty Dog assembled a group of seasoned voice acting pros and while the dialogue is a bit hokey at times, it is to be expected when considering the genre that Uncharted falls in. In the end though, as cinematic as Uncharted is it is still a game. As such, it needs good gameplay, fortunately it delivers here too.
No Pros and Cons at this time