Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (2007/2015) Video Game Review

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With Uncharted 4 already out, I figured I would start (or in my case, restart) playing all of the games in this series again – starting with the game that began them all; Drake’s Fortune.

So what’s the story?  Well, it revolves around our main character, Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter whose goal in life is to go searching for some of the greatest mysteries in the world and obtain them…Because it’s an exciting line of work and he has bills to pay, and isn’t willing to do anything else to pay them (Because dreams have an element of risk that make them worth trying).  After uncovering the coffin of his ancestor, the english explorer Francis Drake, Nate finds out that Francis faked his own death (no remains inside), and left clues to the location of the mythical treasure known as El Dorado.  So, Nathan, along with a journalist looking for a story, Elena Fisher, and his old mentor, Victor “Sully Sullivan,  set out to find it…and experience much trouble along the way.

To add an extra mention, I’m reviewing the PS4 upscale of this game, which is more or less the same game, only it has nicer textures and flows wonderfully at 60 frames per second (and possibly more).

Now to dive into the details.

The Graphics still hold up very well today, but when this game originally came out in late 2007, it was 1 of the best looking video games in the world, along with Assassin’s Creed 1 and Crysis ( or at least it had the best water texture at the time).  Even today you can’t go wrong with how this game looks and makes you feel just by looking at it.

The Art style attempts to be realistic in both background and character design, and especially for the time, it really succeeded.  Today it very much looks like a PS3 game (a great looking PS3 game for that matter), and with the likes of its sequels and Quantic Dream games such as Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, which came out on PS3 a few years later, it has dated a bit.  But it doesn’t take away from how beautiful the game still looks, with it’s bright greens, beautiful skylines, touchable looking masonry, and of course a realistic looking darkness when you start going through catacombs and temples.

The Characters are…mixed…at least in this instalment.  The characters themselves aren’t enormously developed, though Drake and Sully would be great craic to hang out with in real life (They’re a good humoured bunch).  And the villains are…terrible, and among some of the most typical stereotypes in any entertainment medium.  Seriously, the villains are as 1-dimensional as they get, and none of them come across as particularly threatening (Which, if your villain is 1 dimensional, is criminal in its own sense).  Nathan Drake himself is a great and likeable character, even this early in the series’ development.  Naughty Dog decided they didn’t want to make him like Schwarzeneggar or Rambo – but rather, more like a regular guy with good survival skills on an adventure bigger than himself.  Comparisons have been made with Tomb Raider, but some of the inspirations to the character are clear when mentioned, including Johnny Knoxville, Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, and even Cary Grant.  There’s even a slight Nathan Fillion feel to the character as well, but no one mentioned it.  Sully reminds me of Walt Disney in appearance and is a great, comedic father figure to Nathan, while Elena Fisher is very much in “Season 1” mode, as an adventurous but naive journalist who hasn’t really experienced the nitty and gritty of her job…until this story takes place.  Our 3 main villains are Gabriel Roman, Atoq Navarro and Eddy Raja…and like I said, none of them have any redeeming qualities, they’re just greedy prats thinking about money, with Eddy Raja being the most annoying.

The Story in Uncharted 1 is, sadly, the weakest part of the whole game (Probably more so than the villains…okay, maybe not, they’re roughly on par).  It’s very simple, but it’s not that well executed or tight, and some of the more exciting parts of the game are very anti-climatic.  Nothing about it stood out in particular, as much of the game was more like an exhibition of the art work, and of “things to come”.  It was all new and interesting – and while it’s a good platform towards the sequels, it’s not the best game on it’s own.

The Gameplay very much borrows from the likes of Assassin’s Creed and Tomb Raider (and possibly Prince Of Persia), from its exploration features, to its treasure hunting, to its gunplay and melee, to its use of parkour to get around.  The gameplay itself is excellent and more or less bug free (I’ve found no flaws), however there have been times when I’ve jumped at a wrong angle and then had to go through a whole climbing level all over again.  Other than that, I have no objections, it’s still great fun to play.

The voice acting’s good, particularly from our heroes, whose voice acting choices are perfect for the characters they play.  Despite the quality of the villains, the voice acting’s still very good for them as well.

The Music is by Greg Edmonson, who also created the soundtrack for Joss Whedon’s show Firefly and the score for Mike Judge’s cartoon King Of The Hill.  You can hear a lot of Firefly similerities in this game’s score, and with that, the game’s music has an intense “love” factor from me – as it suits the sound of adventure perfectly.

Would I recommend Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune?  No doubt!  Despite the unfortunate story and 1-dimensional villains, it’s still a really good game.  It’s beautiful to look at, the heroes are likeable, the music is awesome and the gameplay is incredibly good fun.  It’s a game deserving of its sequel, and soon I’ll let you know about that 1 as well.

Graphics: **** (****3/4 in 2007)

Art style: *****

Story: ***

Gameplay: ****1/2

Voice Acting: ****1/4

Characters: *** (****1/4 for Drake, Fisher and Sully, ** for the Villains)

Music: *****

Overall: ****

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