Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

Written by Andy Fair

December 15, 2007 | 08:11

Tags: #andy #crash #dexter #drakes-fortune #exclusive #fair #jak #playstation-3 #ps3 #uncharted

Companies: #naughty-dog #sony

Continue the fight!

Combat owes a lot to Gears of War, especially in the way it uses cover during firefights. In fact, it’s such a massively noticeable part of the combat sections that you know a battle is coming up when you start to see lots of low walls and toppled blocks.

Nathan makes use of the available cover quite easily, so if he's beside a low wall when you press the cover button, he'll duck down behind it – you never have to worry about pressing a crouch button.

Weapons are quite easy to use too - press one button to aim and another to fire. Nathan can use two weapon types at any one time – a handgun (a pistol, revolver or SMG) and a rifle (an AK47 or shotgun) – and the amount of ammo he can carry is also limited. This forces you to be careful about where you shoot otherwise it's quite easy to find yourself in the middle of a battle with no ammo. Your only option in this case is either to try and nip out to find some ammo on a corpse or to try your luck with your fists.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Combat
Click to enlarge

This latter option is not to be recommended – it may work with a lone attacker, but it certainly won't work with the hordes of enemies that you find yourself facing. And they certainly are hordes. Sometimes it feels like you're playing Serious Sam as you level one wave of enemies only to find another swathe coming straight after them. This can be annoying sometimes, and if you die in battle you'll have to start the fight all over again from the start.

Another thing that mars the combat is that you'll only ever come across three or four different types of enemy - distinguished only by which weapon they carry. However, this is redeemed somewhat by the intelligence of the AI. Enemies will use cover just as much as you, and will duck out of the way to reload rather than stand in the open waiting for you to shoot them. When the enemies are shot, they'll react accordingly and try to limp or crawl away to the nearest cover. If you give them enough time, enemies will also try and creep around you and attack from the sides, so sitting in one position doesn't work for all battles.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Combat
Click to enlarge

There are collectables treasures hidden throughout the game as well as medals for combat achievements, such as number of kills with a specific weapon or a number of headshots. Together these form a bonus scheme which unlocks content as you proceed through the game. This additional content ranges from video content, such as "making of" segments, or gameplay options such as unlimited ammo or more powerful weapons that can be used on subsequent replays. Since total gameplay for the game is about eight or nine hours, the ability to play through the game again with different options is welcome, since without it the game would be very short.

All is not roses, however, and Uncharted suffers from a couple of gameplay niggles. Apart from sometimes feeling overwhelmed by the hordes of enemies in battles, the fights serve to fragment the game into two distinct elements: one of running and jumping, and one of fighting – the two never really seem to gel. The jumping merely seems to serve as an interlude between massive set-piece battles, and the puzzles are never really satisfying enough to give a sense of achievement.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Combat
Click to enlarge

You also never really get away from the fact that, although the environments you play in are huge, you're still forced along a specific path as though you're on rails. The ability to do a bit more exploration and approach areas from different angles might have turned a good game into an excellent game.

As with previous games of this nature, I'm intrigued how you have to jump through hoops and solve puzzles to progress through the locations, but keep coming across enemies that have managed to get ahead of you. Either they did it by going around the puzzles, in which case why can't you do the same, or they carefully reset the puzzles behind them to give you something to do. This remained unanswered in Tomb Raider and remains unanswered in Uncharted. Maybe I should just stop asking awkward questions.
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