Tag Archives: 2007

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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The Simpsons: The Game (2007) Video Game Review

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Video games about TV shows have always been around, and The Simpsons have been in them since their appearances in arcades and on the NES back in 1991 (with 5 Simpsons video games being released in 1991 alone).  The games themselves came in a range of different gaming genres, and had a wide range in quality, from being obviously bad (like Simpsons Wrestling, Simpsons Skateboarding and Virtual Bart), to good (Simpsons Road Rage) to oddly enough, being 1 of the best TV show-to-video game transitions ever made (Simpsons Hit and Run).  But now onto the question; Where does The Simpsons: The Game fit into all of this?

Developed by EA Redwood Shores on the PS3 and 360, Rebellion Developments for the PS2, PSP and Wii, and Griptonite Games for the Nintendo DS, it can be argued that this game has a lot of variation in quality, and gameplay/level-format-wise, the Nintendo DS version is practically a different game altogether.  I played the PS3 version, so I’m sticking to that 1.

Our story more or less begins (After Homer dreams about heaven…or at least, The Land Of Chocolate) when Bart goes to the Video Game Store to buy Grand Theft Scratchy (a parody of the Grand Theft Auto series).  Marge notices Bart having the copy, and confiscates it.  A bit annoyed by this, Bart then notices a gaming manual drop out of the sky.  It is the manual to The Simpsons: The Game, which tells him what superpowers he has in his possession, as well as the powers of the rest of his family.  This then leads to a perilous adventure, which involves space aliens, Tron moments, and numerous amusing cameos.  The game is made up mostly of parodies of other video games, and even as “Video Game Cliches” as a collectables in each level, including the main, explorable Springfield.

Lets now break this game down into its building blocks.

In 2007, this was the best that The Simpsons ever looked in a video game.  The cut scenes are wonderful, and pretty close to looking like the show.  The actual gameplay graphics looked amazing in its day, as it made an attempt to replicate the cel-shaded style of the show rather than trying to create 3D versions of the characters – a style of presentation that would eventually be used in Family Guy: Back To The Multiverse in 2012, and South Park: The Stick Of Truth in 2014.  Out of all 3 of these games, The Simpsons: The Game is the most rough and pixelated, but it’s also the 1st attempt of the bunch, and was (at least at 1 point) 1 of the best features of the game.

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Writing-wise, the game is funny and contains a combination of recycled jokes from the show, as well as newly written material to further a new story.  However, at the same time, This game did come out during what I classify as a dark period for the show, when The Simpsons Movie in 2007 was the best material they had put out since 2000 (In other words, the quality of The Simpsons depends on whether a Republican or a Democrat is in the White House…seriously, look it up, you would think there’s a pattern…but don’t put the quality of The Simpsons before what you think is best for your country, you’ll just have to buy the DVDs of Seasons 4 to 9).  To make it another ironic product of the time, this game was being released shortly before (and shortly after) the beginning of the Writer’s Guild Of America Strike.

The music is well done, with some remakes of certain tunes (such as The Land Of Chocolate) and music that anybody who plays the freemium game “The Simpsons: Tapped Out” on their iPads/Mobiles will know well.  Treat it purely as background music – although I did enjoy the music in the Medal Of Honor and Japanese Gaming Parodies.

The gameplay is by far this game’s downfall.  The levels are a good size, but unfortunately the Simpsons family are very slow on their feet, and the controls are pretty darn clunky, with plenty of moments were the controls are what make the game difficult, rather than the game simply being difficult with the requirement of skill from its players to move forward.  It also has some quite poor camera work.  But 1 thing I will say, the superpowers that the family members have are pretty amusing…especially Homer’s.

Would I recommend The Simpsons: The Game?  Yes and No.  If you’re a fan of the show, then I say “Yes, have a look at it”, but at the same time, whether you like the show or not, it’s not the most replayable game in the world.  If you go into it and know as little as possible beforehand, and have prior knowledge of video game culture, that’s when you will enjoy it the most.  But once you’ve played it, there isn’t much reason to return.  The writing/story is good but not ’90s Simpsons quality, the graphics and overall look have aged, the music isn’t something to rave about, and the gameplay isn’t that much fun, despite how amusing some of the special powers are.  Much of it feels like a chore to progress a story, which misses the point in it being a video game.  If you want a fun Simpsons game, there’s Simpsons Hit and Run.  And if you want to see a TV cartoon done really well as a video game (to the point of timelessness), there’s South Park: The Stick Of Truth.  I will also say that this game includes a bit of a prophecy on how it will turn out today.  Be on the lookout for it.

Cut Scene Graphics: ****3/4

Gameplay Graphics: ***1/4 (****1/4 in 2007)

Art Style: ****3/4

Story: ***3/4

Music: ***1/2

Controls: **

Camera: **1/2

Level Design: **1/2

Overall: ***1/4