The PlayStation 3's real processing power is put to the test in Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and shows the possibilities yet to come. The visuals are amazing, displaying the dense jungle environments and old temple ruins in great detail, and to top it all off the strong cinematic storyline is sure to draw you in.
There is incredible detail in the lush jungle environments.
The game's main character, Nathan Drake, believes himself to be a distant relative of explorer Sir Francis Drake. He has in his possession a map to a forgotten fortune which later leads to an uncharted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Supporting Drake is long time friend Sully and reporter Elena, who is there to document the discoveries for television. She isn't, however, entirely supportive or understanding of Drake's work ethics. Uncharted is like a modern Indiana Jones blended with Tomb Raider but with a stronger combat emphasis. The story is supported by some great voice acting for each character and there are good cinematic cut-scenes which flow smoothly with the gameplay throughout the game.
On your run through you are gently introduced to the game mechanics of the game, which include puzzle platforming, the cover and shooting system similar to that in Gears of War, and the hand-to-hand combat. All this blended together creates a fast and intense action adventure game. There is no strain caused over the puzzles involved as they almost always involve jumping between ledges and moving objects when prompted to. A sometimes common problem in platform scenarios is the blind jump, where the camera isn't directed or showing where your next jump will be causing you to normally fall to your doom. Thankfully, Uncharted doesn't have this problem and the camera always pans in or out to give you a good view of where you need to go in each situation.
On the combat side of things, in Uncharted you will find yourself stuck shooting it out with numerous enemies at once -- and these guys aren't soft. They can take up to four shots to take down, or a shot or two in the head. Uncharted has you taking aim with L1 and popping off shots with R1. If you want to last, you are strongly encouraged to make use of the surrounding cover by pressing the O button when near a wall and other objects. However, don't think you can remain by a sole piece of cover in an entire shootout. Sooner than later enemies will attempt you flush you out with grenades while pushing up to you. Therefore it is necessary to duck and weave between pieces of cover while letting off a few shots in between. If the need arises in close quarters you can lay down a few hits hand-to-hand.
You need to string together combos if you want to take them down quickly, otherwise it doesn't work out too well. The weapons at your disposal include pistols, shotguns, sub-machineguns, automatic rifles, rock-propelled grenade launchers, and sniper rifles. You can only carry a small weapon like a pistol or Uzi and a two-handed one, like a shotgun or an AK-47, at any one time. Using grenades is slightly gimmicky with the Sixaxis feature used to the throw the grenade closer or further away. And to mix it up a bit there are also sequences where you control a jet ski down a treacherous river, having to juggle between shooting enemies and avoiding exploding barrels.
Uncharted has a rewards system which is quite similar to Xbox 360's achievement system. Scoring yourself 100 headshots, killing 50 enemies without dying and the like will reward you with Medal Points. Earning medal points will unlock various goodies, such as new character models for Nathan, small game rendering options changes (like black and white), and various behind the scenes and making of videos, while larger amounts of points will unlock infinite ammunition and one-shot kill features. Also found throughout Uncharted are pieces of treasure which also reward medal points after a certain amount is collected.
Hand-to-hand combat while being gritty, doesn't come into use a whole lot.
What impressed us most was the amazing visual effects and presentation that Uncharted delivered. The PlayStation 3 has needed a game like this to really show the capabilities of what it can do. It's also a big bonus not having any load times between stages and deaths. Uncharted creates great artistic environments which will have you simply admiring your surroundings. The jungle and temple environments are lush and incredibly detailed, dense with foliage which will part aside when you move through. Light breaking through the moving trees and shadows cast really give a sense of a world that is alive around you. Character motions are also incredibly well done. When hiding behind a pillar and being closely shot at, Nathan will cover his head. And when running down stairs he will run on a slight angle one step at a time. Crisping it up even more is the cinematic storytelling between stages which build on the characters a little each time backed by some solid voice acting.
An excellent blend of adventure platforming and intense third-person shooter fire-fights makes Uncharted: Drake's Fortune a must have for any action-adventure or shooter fan.