Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Review #70: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

 What a letdown.
 So I've been told by lots, both friends and randoms, that I just had to play the Uncharted trilogy, so I obliged. After so much hype, so much build up, it had to be awesome. It isn't.
 The game is set up as a summer block buster popcorn action movie, y'know, those that are a dime a dozen. Even the dialogue follows suit, luckily, the writing is fantastic. The story itself has a few twists here and there but nothing too shocking. Basically, Nathan Drake is this generations Lara Croft, he is hired to find the remains of his ancestor, Francis Drake, as he hid a treasure somewhere. Drake soon finds himself knee-deep in trouble, as other parties are interested in the same treasure. The characters are very typical of the genre, Nathan is the cocky one-liner spouting and gun-toting hero, he works alongside Sullivan, a friend of his who provides gunfire cover every now and then, plus, his relationship with Nathan is very interesting, lastly for the good guys, there's Elena, even though she had never held a gun before, she quickly fells almost as many baddies as Drake himself. Bad guys are as cliched as they get, I'd delve deeper but I might spoil a couple of things.
 Uncharted is a third-person action game with a few adventure elements. Most stages are pretty linear, although exploration is encouraged in the form of hidden treasures. When Nathan isn't shooting hundreds of bad guys, he is climbing cliffs, vines, worn down walls and what have you. Platforming is reminiscent of Prince of Persia(PS2), however, it doesn't feel as tight. Sometimes the game lets you get away with mashing X while aiming in the direction of the next object, sometimes you'll have to be more precise. Sometimes it thinks that you want to jump away from the object, when you just want to jump in order to hasten the climb. Most of the time it works fine, though, but I'd lie if I said I didn't have some grievances with it. Occasionally there'll be some pushing or pulling in the form of puzzles, they are pretty easy to figure out though. As a whole, it's alright, although movement feels a bit loose.
 Most of the game has you taking cover and shooting though. My biggest beef with the game, is that the game loves to place you in "arenas' as soldiers surround you. These sections easily grow long in the tooth, specially since most enemies are bullet sponges, while drake can only take 3-4 direct hits before dying. Aiming for headshots is a must, as ammo can get rather scarce, specially when enemies get you pinned down and you can't move in to gather ammo from fallen enemies. As with most modern shooters, there's no health bar, opting instead for giving Drake regenerating health, as long as he doesn't receive damage. Hiding behind cover waiting for your health to recover isn't really my idea of fun. Oh, cover, once again the controls are a bit wonky, getting out of cover, or into cover, feels a bit clunky and imprecise. And why you could lower the difficulty to easy, easy is too easy. Adding insult to the injury, throwing grenades is done by tilting the joystick to determine the arc of the throw, who came up with this I do not know, but I despise him.
 As previously stated, there are treasures hidden throughout the game. They don't reward you in a direct manner, rather, there are achievements, some of these are related to the treasures. Achievements are not just for bragging rights, the more you get, the more points you get. These points unlock a variety of extras, from graphic filters, to costumes(Fat Drake!!) for both enemies and heroes, infinite ammo, behind the scenes videos and a variety of extras. Really neat. The game itelf is a bit on the short side, but the amount of extras give it some replay value.
 The presentation is fantastic. While the character's skin looks a bit too shiny and like if it were made out of plastic, the rest of the textures look fine. Even for a rather early PS3 game, it rivals a lot of late-releases. There are lots of neat touches, like clothes getting wet. The world itself is highly detailed and pleasing to explore. Still, there's not a whole lot of different enemies, and a lot of them are color-coded. The guys with the red shirts? They carry rocket launchers. The fat guys? They have the shotguns. And so on, and later on, when the camouflage guys are introduced, the guys with the hats(The same hats the guys in the red shirts wore) have the rocket launchers, and so on, it feels a bit cheap. What really hurts the visual presentation is the huge amounts of pop in that there is. Many times the game will load faster than the textures do, this is a frequent thing, so get used to it. Everything audio related, however, is phenomenal. The soundtrack is fantastic, every piece of the score sounds great, and the voice work is nothing short of perfect, it helps that the lines they get to deliver are so good.
 I really don't understand why this game was regarded so highly, it's not that much fun. The production value is through the roof, and it's clear that Naught Dog really tried, but it's just not that much fun at all. Most of the time it feels as if you are going from shooting arena to shooting arena, with the odds stacked against you. And the platforming is not as good as say, Prince of Persia. Frankly, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
 4 out of 10.

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