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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

First Impressions: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

I've liked developer Naughty Dog ever since playing my way through Jak and Daxter on the PS2. Jak and Daxter was the first platformer that I played as an adult and I thought it was awesome combination of gameplay and hilarious cutscenes. All these years later, I can say that Naughty Dog is still just as good as they've ever been, thanks to a little game called Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.

My copy of the game arrived in the mail yesterday. After watching a little TV with my wife, I fired up Uncharted then sat back and waited for Naughty Dog's latest creation to impress me. I pressed Start to continue, created a new game save, then started a New Game on Normal difficulty. A scant 10 seconds later, I was suitably impressed and fully immersed in the Uncharted experience.

Feel free to take anything I say about Uncharted with a grain of salt. I've only played the first three chapters of the game plus the game demo which picks up at the start of Chapter 4 of the game. But I have to say that Naughty Dog has, once again, completely justified my purchase of a PlayStation 3.

Here's what I've liked about Uncharted so far:

  • Graphics are incredible. The characters aren't completely realistic nor are they cartoon characters. I think Uncharted's art direction and character model work is pretty distinctive and looks amazing.

  • Voice-over work is excellent. Every single character that I've encountered has been expertly acted with voice-work and scripted lines that are entirely believable given the game's subject matter and style.

  • I have not yet been forced to fight giant spiders or rats or zombies or Nazis or Nazi zombies. Nate (a.k.a Nathan Drake - Uncharted's protagonist) has already been in many situations where such enemies could have easily popped out of the woodwork. It's rather refreshing!

  • Nate's animations and movements are very fluid no matter the terrain or actions that he's carrying out. You can even watch Nate's facial expressions change during gun fights or while simply moving from point A to point B. This gives the game much more realism and helped to fully immerse me in the experience.

  • The controls used to successfully survive gun fights and hand-to-hand combat are intuitive and easy to use.

  • Uncharted does a great job of blending cutscenes with in-game play. There are even times when Nate will perform certain canned animations based on his immediate environment while under player control. This feature works very well when used and helps to break down the barrier between game and movie. A good example is when Nate finds himself exploring the inside of a submarine. As he moves from compartment to compartment, Nate fluidly traverses obstacles strewn about the floor and ducks beneath bulk heads and lowered ceilings.

  • Uncharted reeks of quality and developer TLC. You just get a sense that Naughty Dog knew that they were making a great game and really gave it their all to make Uncharted a unique experience for all players.
I'll be playing Uncharted: Drake's Fortune more or less exclusively until I've finished it. I may even play the game a second time on a harder difficulty setting just for the sake of experiencing the game again. I think it's fantastic! If the rest of the game is as good as the first four chapters, I'm in for a treat!

For the record, I'm not the only one who's enjoyed Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. Check out the video reviews below!

Have a good one!