Ok, to start off the only reason why I am writing this review and not playing Uncharted is because I am at work. In short: I love this game. However, I must say that I am only on level 10. Because of this, my review will have to be updated, specifically my "presentation" section, when i am done with this game. I, however, believe I have played enough of this game to write a review that is substantive enough to warrant writing this. This review will be split into an ever familiar pattern presented by IGN: Presentation, graphics, sound, gameplay, and lasting appeal.
First off, I must say that without presentation a game that has the ability to be great can fail miserably. One only needs to look at Lair in order to understand where I am coming from. Fortunately, this is where Drake's Fortune not only succeeds but sets the bar for the industry. Drakes Fortune ties together a sense of attachement, emotion, and an overall movie-like atmosphere unlike anything I have ever seen in a game. From the cutscenes to the overall pace of the game one cannot help but be in awe at the production value of this game. It is simply beautiful. The only time you really catch a breath is when you peer out over the ocean as the sun sets all the while watching the shadows dance off the back of Drake. I seriously cannot remember the last time a game paced itself as well as Drake's Fortune does. Naughty Dog's age really shows here and not in a bad way.
One can praise and applaud graphics for doing many things: this game has great animation; that game has great textures; the color palate on that game is unrivaled. It is very rare, however, that one can say this about a single game, you can say this about Uncharted. From animations, to textures, to color palate, to art direction Uncharted: Drakes Fortune has no rival. EVERYTHING MOVES, trees, leaves, shirts, dead bodies, everything that is beautiful in this game is because it has motion. Saying this, the graphics in Uncharted are unparalled not because of its technical aspect but because of its immersive aspect. However, there are some cons: Once in a blue moon there is a slow down or slight tear (especially in the seadoo mission) but NOTHING that is impeding upon the game and NOTHING that takes away from its overall beauty. There simply is no rival on a console. Although I find the characters a little "clayish" I know that this is just art style and not necessarily a flaw in graphics.
Walking in a living MOVING world would not be complete without the air in the trees, the sound of the ocean on the beach, or the "squashing" of your shoes as you run while soaked. The distant gunshots of pirates, the sound of the weapons, the taunting of the enemy all do exactly what sound is meant to do; immerse you.
Let's start of with one of the most impressive aspects of this game: the AI. Little is talked about how vicious and how relentless this AI can be. I know, I know there are points where the A.I will rush you and you will shoot them in the open, but lets try to remember we are playing a game and if all they did was hide it wouldnt be nearly as fun. They fall back, they flank, they throw grenades relentlesly (if they think they can kill you) they duck, they slide, they change positions, they fire from both sides of cover, they roll on the ground and shoot at you. All of this leads me to believe this has some of the best if not the best AI I have seen to date. Of course there are flaws, like guys rarely get out of the way when grenades are thrown at them, but thats actually a relief because they are so relentless.
Gunplay is fun. I, however, have hit some guys 6 times before they fell with the AK47, and yes I was hitting them. I think its great that you can only carry a sidearm and a primary weapon andI love how you can only carry so much ammo. It really adds to the overall feel of the game and adds another enemy to gameplay: conservation. Platforming is fun and its perfectly balanced with gunplay. However, sometimes i try to get Drake to do something that I know he needs to do but he just doesnt do it. It is frustrating but happens only rarely. The jeep and seadoo missions are fun and something different. The key to this gameplay is the balance between it all. Nothing is overpowering, nothing is overdone. Pirates, at times, can be relentless and extremely hard, but in the end makes it rewarding.
Lasting Appeal: 9.0
I am playing my first time through on hard, I know I will play this again just to get unlockables and to enjoy the experience again and again. The presentation alone in this game will have me coming back, not only that but the funfactor ensures that I will.
This is what PS3 owners have been waiting for. Naughty Dog has delivered a beautifully balanced game that leaves your jaw on the floor throughout its entirety. Nothing gets old, nothing drags out for too long. The immersion factor in this game is second to none. The seamless transition from cutscene to gameplay will leave you loving the characters and loving the experience. This is the must have title of the year for the PS3, if you dont have Uncharted: Drakes Fortune you would be a fool not to buy it. If you dont have a PS3 yet, this game ought to have you thinking twice about grabbing one.
OVERALL SCORE: 9.5
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