I’d never played an Uncharted game before, despite everyone shouting at me how great they are. I never owned a Playstation 3, so I didn’t really get the chance to play any of them. When they announced the collection on PS4, I was more than ready to give the series a go. I wasn’t left disappointed.
The best way I can describe Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is by likening it to Indiana Jones. It’s silly, colourful, full of charm, witty, adventurous and oh so much fun. It’s amazing what a lick of paint will do, too, as I was blown away by the lush visuals of Drake’s Fortune. Time after time I would just stop to take in the sights. The jungles are vibrant and full of detail. Old buildings crumble and creak as you’d expect them to. It’s all very bright and colourful, too, unlike so many other games of its time.
It’s all nicely put together with an eye always on the adventure and discovery. When Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune slows down to show you its world, is when the game truly shines. Adventure lies at the heart of Uncharted, and it’s a great ride to go on, with countless incredible landscapes and set-pieces to set your heart a flutter. Mechanically, the adventure feels smooth too. Climbing and jumping feels natural (if not ludicrous) and there is just enough exploration in the relatively linear surroundings thanks to numerous trinkets lying about, just waiting to be discovered.
It’s not all about climbing over precarious building and mountain faces though, as like Indiana Jones, there’s quite a lot of action to be seen. Gunplay feels natural, which is good, because you’ll be doing a whole lot of shooting in Drake’s Fortune. The number of weapons is fairly limited, but your standard stock of pistols, shotguns, machine-guns and sniper-rifles are all there. Shoot-outs work based on cover mechanics that work perfectly fine.
Snapping between different cover and shooting out from behind it looks and works great. Shoot-outs lead me onto one of the game’s biggest flaws however. Shooting blokes is fun for a while, but once you’re on to the third or fourth wave of enemies, it can become tiresome. Especially tiresome are the enemy designs, which look severely out of date on today’s machines. They move unnaturally and feel like something plucked from the PS2 era.
People rave on about the set-pieces of the Uncharted series, but I found most of them to drag on. The same goes for the majority of the game’s shoot-outs. In one scene you are racing away from enemies in a four-by-four of some description, gunning down those that get too close. It’s exciting at first, but it goes on, and on, and on. The game has an issue with dragging scenes on until you want them to end, rather than pumping out adrenaline fueled, shorter sections.
These dragged out scenes take momentum away from a game that doesn’t quite nail the balance between excitement and wonder. I would’ve preferred snappier set-pieces that wowed rather than longer ones that became dull. Thankfully, the breath-taking sights and sounds take your mind off the laborious nature of a decent amount of the game’s “exciting” moments. Just as good, if not better than the lush visuals and wonderfully designed world is the game’s soundtrack. Individual songs in this game are better than a good amount of film soundtracks in their entirety. It was a joy to listen to.
None of this falls apart with a weak plot or characters, either. The pacing in the gameplay can be a small issue, but the plot never really suffers. It’s full of wonder, intrigue and incredible characters. Drake himself is likable, witty and scared of pretty much everything. It’s a brilliant mixture that creates a memorable action-adventure hero for the ages. His interactions with the rest of the cast are to die for too. Sully is a hilarious mentor, and Elena Fisher provides a better, more believable love interest than in most Hollywood productions. Drake’s Fortune trumps many films with its storytelling and world-building prowess. At least it does for the most part.
In the final act of the game, it loses a little focus, creating an ending that is unbelievable compared to the rest of the game. It’s a shame, but it doesn’t ruin the experience. The climax is fast, brutal and exciting, something the rest of the game struggles with. It’s just a shame that it feels out of place within the rest of the game.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is fun, gorgeous (almost ten years on), wonderfully written and phenomenal at times. It’s held back by an ending that feels somewhat out of place, dragged out set-pieces and shooting sections that don’t know when to stop.