When I talk to most of my JRPG mates they talk about their glory days with the PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3. I’m not like them. My first serious time with PlayStation was the PS3 and my first ever game for it was Uncharted Drake’s Fortune. Oh and get this, I didn’t even want the game. My first foray with the Uncharted series was actually compensation from a mate who lost a copy of a game I loan him. Yo, Luis if you’re seeing this, thanks for introducing me to this series.
Where Uncharted Started
Anywho, when I got the game it was my only title for the PS3. This meant that I actually had time to focus solely on it, which was rare for me at the time, and even more so now. Coming back to it many years later on the PS4 has been a blissful experience as I’m sure it has been for most who played the original.
Uncharted is one of those titles which plays almost as good as it looks. The game centres around the main character, Nathan Drake – an archaeological treasure hunt, swindler and all around lucky guy. It’s the modern folks Indiana Jones. A series I am ashamed to say I’ve never watched but pretend I have for the street cred. You’re first introduced to Nathan diving in the ocean for some sort of treasure. Before long it goes from treasure hunting to a third shooting affair on a boat. From there it jumps again to Nathian and his partner Sully on an island searching for a particular 15th century treasure.
If you’re still paying attention then you should have noticed the impressive adrenaline thumping pace of this title. There’s literally no down time. It’s action cutscene after cutscene but instead of watching, you’re an active participant in every bombastic set piece. Uncharted itself is a tightly knit together linear experience but it feels like much more. Developers, Naughty Dog created such a believable world and set of characters that the whole thing seems a lot larger than it is.
An Uncharted Shooter At Its Core
Similar to the likes of the Gears of War series, Uncharted has a strong focus on using cover during combat. Unlike that game however it does have more verticality and some neatly implemented melee combat options. During its 8 or so hour campaign you’ll be placed in an array of settings with opportunities to tackle them in a variety of ways. Bundled in with that you’ll also find the aforementioned impressive set pieces which require quick button inputs, QTEs and reflexes. You’ll probably fail on your first run most of the time but they’re not too complex to figure out after getting a jist of the situations.
If anything your biggest challenge will come from the somewhat floaty feeling controls during platforming segments. Controlling Drake during combat feels a bit clumsy but that’s part of his charm. Like a person who plays the fool to drop your guard while always being in control. Drake stumbles and crawls, while shouting his now iconic “oh no no no no” but always sticks his landing and I love it. This remaster has also received numerous quality of life improvements which affects play. From 60FPS to a new explorer mode which makes the game extremely easy. This of course is an attempt by the devs to make the game more accessible and it was a success. For those looking for more of a challenge there’s also brutal and speed run modes.
A Generation Defining Experience
Gameplay aside, Uncharted is mostly focused on its story and characters with the gameplay serving as the vehicle to present them. A frame for a lens. A wheel for a car. The gameplay is important but it’s not the focus. During gameplay Nathan and his companions constantly talk to each other and the developers take every opportunity to get the player close up and personal with the characters. Sometimes that’s in the form of a cutscene while other times it’s much more literal. It also helped that Drake and co are very likable, ridiculously well motion captured characters. Nolan North as Nathan Drake, Emily Rose as Elena Fisher, Richard McGonagle as Victor Sullivian blew me away back in the day and they still do. All deliver award winning performances and so do the supporting cast. Big praise goes to the directors and animation team at Naughty Dog as well for what they were able to achieve way back in 2007 when this game first released on the PS3.
What’s more is that this game did receive some visual improvements but the original still looks impressive today. In fact, it doesn’t look like a lot of changes were required to remaster it for the PS4. That’s of course not true but at face value it over achieved for it’s time and as such has aged well enough to rival games today. There’s even a new photo mode added in to the remaster to show off those stellar enhanced 2007 visuals.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune will always be special for me, as it was my first game for the PS3 and my main entry into the PlayStation echo system. It’s a game that has aged well thanks in part to great forward thinking development practices and strong focus on quality. It may not have exploded onto the scene originally thanks in part to poor initial adoption of the PS3 but it slowly got there. It launched a whole franchise and redefined what was expected from action adventure titles. If you’re looking for a good time, there are very few experiences which can match Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune today.