Retro-Respawn: Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

Some may think that I’m pushing the description of “retro” with this game and it’s true that I’d unofficially created a cut off point of the sixth generation when it came to doing games for this feature. However, with it looking more and more likely that the PS3 and 360 are reaching the end of their exceptional runs as active consoles, it seemed appropriate to widen my net for this game. Additional factors were that due to never owning a PS3 myself I had never actually played an Uncharted game before and it made sense to me to play it while also netting an article into the bag to boot. Thusly, the planets aligned just right for this feature to happen. Ah, I love the smell of serendipity in the morning!

HD remakes are a bone of contention for some people, with those people seeing them as cynical cash ins. I however take a different view of the whole thing, based mainly to what I was doing before the eighth generation. People seem to forget that, for all intents and purposes, Sony lost the console war to Microsoft during the seventh generation of gaming. Yes, the PS3 rebounded well towards the end and some excellent games were released for it, but the fact remains that more people owned a 360 and thusly those people may not have played some of the best games the PS3 had to offer.

Picture Courtesy of Naughty Dog

For example, I had never played Uncharted, Metal Gear Solid 4 or The Last of Us because I could only afford to have one of the major consoles during the seventh generation. Thusly, to me these HD remakes are a Godsend as they give me a chance to play the games that I missed during the last generation. There’s also the case that there will be people out there whose first ever console will be an Xbox One or PS4. For these people, a HD remake might be the only way they get to play one of these classic games on either format. For that reason, I’m all for HD remakes in theory and I’ve personally benefited from them existing. Just wanted to set my cards on the table from the off.

Originally released in 2007, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is about the treasure hunting escapades of Nathan Drake, himself a supposed descendent of the legendary Francis Drake. Drake is immediately likeable thanks to his haphazard swashbuckling ways and the excellent voice acting of Nolan North. North clearly has a penchant for voicing loveable rogues, as was made clear by his equally excellent job voicing everyone’s favourite super powered delinquent; Deadpool. Drake is the perfect leading man for just such an adventure. He’s both capable and charismatic while also being both clownish and, occasionally, oafish. At the end of the day though, he is most certainly a protagonist and it is very difficult not to admire and like him, especially when you are charged with both his and his friends safety.

One of those friends comes in the form of Victor Sullivan, a cigar smoking trouble maker who, if his voice was one octave lower, could probably have a decent stab at passing for Rodney Dangerfield. Indeed the opening level proper where Drake and “Sulley” explore an Amazonian Temple while dispending wise cracks is one of my favourite parts of the game. They are joined on their quest by intrepid journalist Elena Fisher, who is determined to boost her career by filming Drake’s outlandish exploits on her handy video camera. The chemistry between all three characters is genuinely well cultivated and it really makes you feel like you’re taking part in an exciting Hollywood Blockbuster.

Picture Courtesy of Gamespot

The highlight of the game for me by far was when you have to assail huge structures as Drake in order to find clues of ways to advance through the level. There’s a particular level where Drake has to scale the outside of a gigantic fortress that is legitimately breath taking. Drake can leap, swing and crawl his way up and across the assorted scenery, but be wary to time your jumps correctly or Drake could end up tumbling to his doom at a moments notice. As you climb the terrain will sometimes crumble around you, meaning you’ll need quick wits to escape some sections of the game unscathed. it’s both thrilling and terrifying when you grip a certain ledge, only to see if crumbling in your hands while you desperately look for the next ledge you need to reach. These sections were by far my favourite part of the game.

Unfortunately the combat and shooting sections of the game were very much my least favourite. First off, the sheer amount of them becomes tiresome after a while. Drake first finds himself fending off an army of pirates led by his old rival Eddy before moving onto private militia hired by the games main antagonist in Roman. Roman himself is a silver haired British man liable to flounce at any moment, which only strengthens the games Summer Blockbuster feel. Nathan guns down a seemingly endless slew of pirates, it must honestly run into the thousands, before finally having to gun down militia and then a different type of enemy on top of that (Which I won’t spoil for those who haven’t played the game yet, but not only are these enemies fearsomely difficult but their arrival leads to a jarring change in the tone of the game which threatens to spoil everything that had thus far been built so well)

How Eddy, a loud mouthed and diminutive loser, managed to hire this many people to do his bidding is never explained and how Drake seems thoroughly non effected with killing so many people is also never really examined. I suppose it’s not that sort of game, but Drake kills A LOT of people in this and it’s never really reflected on except for a throw away line from Roman when he dresses Eddy down for his failures. I mean, I wasn’t expecting a Metal Gear Solid type scene where Solid Snake is taunted about enjoying the act of killing enemy soldiers, but I was maybe expecting some slight remorse from Drake for having to gun down so many people in cold blood. There doesn’t appear to be any repercussions for this either. Drake kills lots of people and it’s never really spoken of again.

The shooting mechanics are sluggish and eventually it reached a point where I’d sigh once another combat section reared its ugly head. I can understand the need for having something like this in the game but after a while it becomes literal overkill and I found myself longing for climbing walls and flipping switches again. All in all, the balance of combat to exploring is rather skew-whiff and I personally would have liked there to have been slightly more of an emphasis on puzzling and exploring over combat. It perhaps wouldn’t be as much of an issue if the combat was more satisfying to take part in as opposed to being more of a chore that the player has to wade through in order to advance the games plot.

As previously mentioned, I found the sharp left turn the story took to be a little jarring but not too much that I didn’t want to see it through to its conclusion. Not wanting to spoil too much, I will just say that fantastical elements are added to a story which, up to that point, had been rooted more in reality than fanaticism and it felt somewhat out of place to me and didn’t really match the tone that the story had been going for prior to that point. That being said, I did enjoy the story overall and found it to be one of the most engaging narratives I’d seen in quite some time. It certainly helps that Drake, Elena and Sulley develop into a fun triad of puzzle solvers as the plot advances and I very much found myself caring for all three of their well beings as the game wore on.

In the end, I find the positives far outweigh the negatives when it comes to Drake’s Fortune. I found the overall experience to be both engaging and enjoyable, and I would happily recommend this to anyone who hasn’t played the original before. I intend to play the other two games on the disc in preparation for when Uncharted 4 is eventually released.

As always, I’ll post some game footage below.

Thanks for reading

Peace Out

You can watch footage of the game in action courtesy of B1GnBr0wN by clicking HERE

Looking for other stuff to read on GR? Well why not take a goosey gander at the links below? Ah go on! Go on, go on, go on!!!

Ever wondered why Animal Crossing is so popular? I know I have! James Haxell takes a look at why and you can see that by clicking HERE

Want to know what Jesse thought about Zombie Vikings? Well have a look by clicking HERE

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