So sue me; the fourth iteration of the Uncharted series recently launched and here I am reviewing the first game. Well, that’s just how life plays out sometime isn’t it? In all honesty, the launching of the fourth Uncharted game is what spurred me into motion. I had played the first Uncharted game a long time ago (and almost beat it apparently), but then something in the game killed it for me. A week ago I took it upon myself to play through them all so I could get ready for my eventual play-through of Uncharted 4. Just like how every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, the adventure that spans four games starts with the first disk. Or the single Blu Ray since I got the collection again when I picked up my PS4 a while back. Either way, let’s dig in shall we?
So the story starts you off with the main protagonist Nathan Drake. He’s funny, smart, and has an infinite amount of stamina because cardio is important. Your a treasure hunter with a knack for knowing almost everyone in the business (and several languages and being able to tell you basically everything about everything you find). Seriously, Nathan seems to know all of the bad guys in the game on a first name basis. That is strange right? It was really only weird when I thought about it afterward, but looking back, it almost felt like I was jumping into the second season of a show. A good show, but still the second season. What came before this? Was there another fun adventure that I’m missing out on? These are things I want to know! Maybe Uncharted 4 isn’t the last game?
So the Uncharted series has been explained to me as a male version of Tomb Raider or as a videogame adaptation of Indiana Jones. I think both describe the series well enough, but pigeon holing it as the male Tomb Raider doesn’t fit as one would like. You’re not constantly searching tombs as much as Lara does, it’s simply part of the game and it more focuses on story. Hmmm… I guess it is more akin to the newer Tomb Raiders in that sense. That works for me since I’m really enjoying those games. It is more like a videogame adaptation of Indiana Jones, and we all enjoy the three Indiana Jones movies don’t we? Fun adventures with definite peril along with some witty comments.
The roughest part of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune for me was (insert drumroll here) the shooting mechanics. I am horrible with shooters and consoles. Even nearing the end I wasn’t doing much better than I was when I started the game. Other than sucking, there are other reasons for that. The enemies started to get more health and they all start doing that bob-and-weave crap that doesn’t mesh well with my poor aiming skills. I had a bud watch me and got a good laugh while I was wasting a whole pistol clip on one guy and not really hitting anything. Argh… that would have almost been embarrassing if I wasn’t already acutely aware of my shortcomings. That does paint a pretty horrible picture, I wasn’t doing so badly I couldn’t progress, but it did take a while to complete some missions where people didn’t like to stay in cover.
The other issue I have with the game is this: zombies. That is what killed the game for me back in the day. I was on a roll with the game, even with my poor aiming skills, and then zombies happened. I didn’t quite get the connection back in the day, but now I realize that it does kind of fit in the story with the curse of the gold and such, but they move around even more than the other bad guys and they run quickly at you so I have less time to adjust my sites. That’s not very fair now is it? However, once I got over the fact that there were zombies here (even though they’ve had them in other games, I’m not sure why it bothered me so much here) I learned how to beat them mostly. Two words for you folks: high ground. Yup, once I got up some place I had to climb, they ran away. Then I would jump down, bait them into coming into my kill-box and if it got too bad, I’d just climb back up to my safe place and hide from all the scary stuff like a college kid.
All the voice work is great and adds a lot of depth to both the characters and the story. Unlike Xenosaga, all of the movie sequences done in the game feel more like extensions of the game rather than blatant interruptions from all the fun and adventure you could have been having instead. Even the bad guys were interesting enough even if I didn’t care for Gabriel Roman who heads up the bad guy department for the bulk of the game (mild spoiler, but come on, it came out in 2007). The addition of quick-time-events worked well too with adding a certain “lack of control over the situation” element that some action sequences wouldn’t have felt so amazing had they given you free-roaming controls. Even the last boss being a QTE was done well even if I did fumble for the gun way more times than I should have.