Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Cover
Platforms PlayStation 3
Genre Indiana done right
MtAMinutes to Action 3
Keep Playing? Yes
Buy from Amazon

I’m honestly not sure if there’s ever been a decent Indiana Jones video game, I’ve played a few including the recent LEGO release and the ancient point and click adventures, but as an active observer of the industry, I’ve never seen any of the games rise to the top. Whoever owns the rights to the series couldn’t even release a Kingdom of the Crystal Skull game to coincide with the film’s release. Imagine climbing into a refrigerator to survive a nuclear blast. It’d be exhilarating.

But even if Indy never sold successfully off the silver screen, the Uncharted series has been doing great, not to mention the numerous accolades bestowed upon it by the press. Now that I finally own a PlayStation 3, catching up with its best games is easy, if not time consuming. After finishing Heavy Rain, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune seemed like the next logical step.

And like Heavy Rain, I recorded the entire first hour of Uncharted and uploaded it to YouTube. So follow along if you’d like, or find an interesting minute and skip to that in the video. And I promise you, the first hour of Uncharted is chock full of interesting minutes. I've also broken up the video into chapters if you just want to see specific adventures.

Minute by Minute

00 - I select New Game and the first hour of Uncharted begins. I leave the difficulty at Normal and the game begins loading. And loading. And loading some more. The music is really nice though. The opening cutscene begins with an underwater camera making its way through some leaves, a quote appears onscreen:

“There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory.” - Sir Francis Drake, 1587

A woman’s voice says they have found the coffin of Sir Francis Drake and the game pans over the casket, with a neat camera trick making it then appear on her boat. A man is trying to pry it open.

01 - The two banter back and forth, sounds like this guy is Nathan Drake, great-great-and-more-grandson to Sir Francis. The coffin is empty though, wasn’t a surprise to Nathan, however. He finds a book inside, all he wants and needs.

02 - Tension builds as Nathan sees pirates on the horizons, the reporter is freaking out a bit. Honestly great writing here to kick off the game. Drake is overflowing with charm.

03 - I gain control as a bunch of boats surround ours, and the shooting begins! Trying to work out the controls, though I seem pretty good at it. Along with using your gun, Nathan is comfortable fighting with his fists too. I learn a brutal combo that somehow makes the dead man drop more ammo.

Uncharted Nathan Drake Jungle

04 - Nathan is waiting for Sully to save their hide, we take cover as a guy with a rocket launcher shows up and starts destroying our boat!

05 - “Oh, I don’t think I’m getting my security deposit back.” Sully’s plane flies low over the pirates and we jump off the ship just as it blows up. Victor Sullivan introduces himself to Elena Fisher, and they take off from the sinking wreckage.

07 - In some kind of jungle hideout now, Drake and Sully are talking on a boat about Francis Drake’s discovery: they’ve found El Dorado, but are missing a crucial page from Drake’s book. Sullivan doesn’t like the idea of Fisher tagging along, however.

09 - Not wanting to share the treasure, Drake and Sully take off, leaving Elena on the dock. Poor girl, I’m sure she’ll catch up.

10 - We’re walking through another jungle, apparently close to the El Dorado treasure already, the two discuss things as I acclimate myself with the controls.

13 - After some false starts, we find some ancient ruins, really ancient. Time to jump around and try out the climbing gameplay. Keep in mind Uncharted came out the same year as Assassin’s Creed, so we haven’t really had the defining climbing experience yet for developers to model after.

14 - Shimmying. I hate shimmying. Drake is pretty quick about it though. He’s also super strong and just pushed a huge statue head off a small cliff through a soft hole in the ground to reveal a secret passage.

15 - We’re now inside, ready to raid some tombs, but it’s been cleaned out for centuries. Sully is pissed, he needs the money badly.

17 - Need to cross a huge gap, ah, the conveniently placed exploding barrel will do the job! Start to crate: 18 minutes.

19 - More carefully placed bullets start a fire on some debris in my way. This level has required two bullets and both of them were shot for solving puzzles, kinda odd. Oh crap, I just died trying to jump around some crazy wall. Sullivan yelled, “NO!” Metal Gear Solid style.

20 - My third bullet explodes another barrel, revealing a hidden ladder for Sully to use since he’s too old to be hopping around walls with 200 foot drops.

21 - I’ve reached some sort of puzzle room, Nathan Drake pulls out Francis Drake’s book and uses it as an answer key! That’s cheating!

Uncharted Nathan Drake Eddy Raja Punch

23 - I need to push some blocks into the wall in a very specific order. So far, Uncharted has been pretty movie-like, but this is the epitome of video-gamey puzzles.

24 - The pushed in blocks somehow trigger a huge hole in the ground to be uncovered. Drake climbs down to figure things out on his own. Oh, now I have to push another block! This causes some water to fill up a hole so that Drake can jump down.

25 - Ooh, Drake’s clothing looks sufficiently wet after climbing out of the drink. More climbing around, the controls are really solid and it all feels very natural.

26 - More conveniently placed exploding barrels lets Sully reach me without having to kill himself.

27 - I start walking on some scaffolding, but it suddenly starts collapsing! In a sequence that just screams “We’re Naughty Dog and we used to develop Crash Bandicoot!” Drake runs right at the camera escaping the carnage. Somehow it lays these giant blocks down perfectly so Sully can catch up.

28 - Well, we’ve found what’s left of the El Dorado golden statue: a bunch of dust.

30 - Jumping around in more jungle now, I pick up some shiny object which turns out to be a collectible treasure.

Woah, there’s a submarine stuck on a waterfall in the middle of the jungle. This is pretty impressive. Drake is going inside, but Sullivan is freaked out. Nathan says he’ll call him if he sees any Nazis. Time to find my way inside.

34 - Finally inside after having to scale a cliff to jump down onto the deck from above. The submarine corridor is obviously tight, just walking forward at this point triggering cutscenes.

36 - Lots of little QTEs to open up doors, nothing obnoxious, but excessive tapping required.

Drake pulls back a curtain revealing our decomposed Nazi captain.

38 - Drake has found the missing page to Francis Drake’s book! And some coordinates to their next stop, he’s pretty excited until Sullivan cuts off mid-sentence. Something is wrong. Oh oh, during his escape, Drake starts up an underwater missile, time to go!

39 - Sully isn’t alone anymore, some guy named Gabriel Roman has him under gunpoint. Seems like Sullivan owes him a lot of money.

40 - Drake is forced to give up the map he found inside the sub, but it’s not enough as Roman shoots Sully!

Uncharted Nathan Drake Victor Sullivan Nazi sub

41 - But then the sub explodes, giving Drake time to escape! A frantic chase begins as I run through the jungle, but I don’t get far before Elena Fisher grabs me... and punches me. I deserved it. Drake catches her up and we move on, gun in hand.

42 - Back into the tomb we go, taking lots of cover as we go along. Since I mentioned Assassin’s Creed earlier and how Uncharted came out around the same time, it should be noted that this game was released a year after Gears of War, a title known for its heavy use of cover combat.

44 - Drake finds an AK-47, giving me some weapon options along with my pistol.

46 - Learning quickly that guys pretty much take three pistols shots to kill, unless you manage to hit their head.

Hah, died again, this time Elena got to freak out as I fell.

48 - When close to death from being shot in Uncharted, your screen slowly grays out. I like it better than Call of Duty’s reddening.

49 - We come across a jeep, not sure if it’s Elena’s or the bad guy’s, either way, we’re off.

50 - Cutscene switches to Drake flying Sullivan’s plane with Elena on camera. And just as she turns it off we get shot by anti-aircraft missiles! Time to go... again.

51 - Elena parachutes out and Drake begins to follow, he really needs to convince himself to make the leap.

52 - Back on the ground now, more jungle!

55 - Doesn’t take long before I’m being shot at again. Man, no one likes Nathan Drake. They shouldn’t mess with me though, I just got a trophy for my 10th headshot!

56 - Too much gunfire and a bad fall kills me again. Time for a more sneaky tactic.

60 - A big shootout with grenades, shotguns, and awesome shooting on my part caps off the first hour of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.

Uncharted Nathan Drake el Dorado

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 3

Bias: All I really know about the Uncharted series is that the second one is REALLY good and that this one has issues. But maybe the first one only has issues to those that played the second one and can now properly identify those issues? Paradox.

Would I Keep Playing? Yes. If Heavy Rain pulled off the dramatic thriller, Uncharted certainly manages the action movie equivalent. And thankfully, Uncharted delivers on the action both in cutscenes and during gameplay.

Gunplay felt a bit awkward at times, I’ve honestly never liked playing shooters with the Dual Shock, but the shootout situations were well directed and fun. Most of the encounters were very short and kept the accelerated pace at a high level. The final battle that capped the first hour was much longer and had me scrambling all over for cover and ammo, while I always felt in danger of dying, I never felt out of control or overwhelmed.

Nathan Drake oozes charm, and just like Elena, you want to punch him just as much as you want to follow him along on his next adventure. Nolan North as the voice actor for Drake and the animators deserve huge credit. Not to mention superb writing and direction keeping the cutscenes interesting, even as some of them can go on for three or four minutes.

Looking forward to playing on, hope I don’t get burned out of Uncharted before I get to play the second one.