I feel like I was somehow out of the loop in the PS3 community, by not having played Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and its sequel. The sequel (Uncharted: Among Thieves) won Game of the Year on several sites and it got stellar reviews, so I thought I’d work my way through them both.
I just finished Drake’s Fortune and it was incredibly underwhelming. Maybe when it came out, it wowed people, but I was frustrated with the game mechanics and unimpressed by the story and characters that all the reviews raved about.
Story. You are a treasure hunter, Nathan Drake (supposed ancestor of Sir Francis Drake). There’s a stubborn reporter that you kind of fall for (literally in some instances) and then a mentor-figure that smokes cigars. It’s a pretty cliche story and the characters are flat and generally uninteresting. You seek out a treasure that Sir Francis Drake supposedly was looking for.
Spoiler: The treasure turns people into zombies! WHOA! Did NOT see that coming. I liked fighting pirates. These zombies were not so fun. I’ll get to that.
Gameplay. This game had essentially 3 elements. Climbing. Shooting. Fighting. It did none of these extremely well.
If you want a game that allows you to run and jump and climb and do flips and swing from vines… Rent Assassin’s Creed, which does a superb job at allowing you to really traverse anything. Or even rent Prince of Persia on PSOne and it manages to do a better job. I watched a developer’s video and they bragged that it was intuitive and you could just jump from ledge to ledge without thinking about falling. Well, I’m an experienced console gamer and I had to replay a couple sections over and over again. I would leap and then miss the ledge and die. The cameras were often in the wrong place to be useful, so I wouldn’t see the ledge I was about to walk off.
So maybe the combat can save this game. Not to me. It is a 3rd-person shooter (which can be done right) but the shooting is inaccurate and lacks punch. I would nail somebody in the head and he would still need another four shots. The game bombards you with enemies, so it would’ve been nice to be able to manage crowd control.
And then there is close combat, which seems nice but I can count on both hands the amount of times I used it. Your enemies have laser-scoped sniper rifles. You’re not going to charge them and go for a grapple.
Now… When the story turns weird and zombies show up, I wish there was a decent melee combat system. I was wasting ammo like crazy, spinning around circles and trying to figure out where the hell the monster went.
Overall. The game felt clunky and nothing was spectacular about it. The story was cliche and even when it introduced zombies, it still felt like a different sort of cliche, like I was all of a sudden in Halo fighting the Flood again (man, I hate the Flood).
There were interesting segments, when the game added a new mechanic. At one point, you’re on a turret in the back of a jeep and your driver is speeding through the forest and you’re wiping out everything you see. THAT was fun. But then they would try something else and fail (Jetski sections, I’m looking at you).
Overall, I was unimpressed. There are a lot of games out there that do this stuff way better. I’m hoping the sequel makes me a believer.