TEH. BEST. GAMES. EVAR.
By Andr'e Swartley
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: Playstation 3
Rating: M for Mature
The Golden Age of Hollywood died before 1950, but filmmaking didn't become the moneymaking juggernaut it is today until the late 70s, with the advent of so-called "blockbusters." Following the same pattern, the Golden Age of video games ran from the mid-1980s to the early '90s. The Nintendo Entertainment System made the Atari 2600 look like an Etch-A-Sketch, and every American child could tell you that Mario's princess was in another castle or recite the Konami Code to get 30 guys in Contra.
Video games now comprise a multi-billion dollar industry. Production of a single game can employ hundreds of programmers, artists, and actors, and have budgets of $100 million dollars. As is also the case with movies, millions of people flock to sites like IGN and Gametrailers every day to read or watch reviews of the latest releases.
But instead of fighting over new releases with the rest of the internet, this column is going to focus on games released anywhere from a few months to several years ago, but which are related to current releases. For example, this past Tuesday saw the release of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, which is already being hailed as Game of the Year contender by most reviewers. But there could be no sequel without a great first game, right? You'd better believe it.
Star of the original Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and all around loveable rogue Nathan Drake is a fortune hunter and descendant of explorer Sir Francis Drake. After pirates blow up Drake's boat with rocket launchers in the first few hectic minutes of the game, he and Elena Fisher, the reporter following his story, make their way to an island covered in jungles, Spanish ruins, and Incan treasures. They are racing the pirates to find El Dorado, the fabled lost city of gold. I won't spoil the story except to say it's full of double crosses and cheeky one liners worthy of Indiana Jones and James Bond.
Gameplay is a mixture of simple puzzle solving (turn a statue to open a door), platforming (climbing rocks and swinging from ropes), and large scale shootouts against ridiculous odds (bang bang). Drake controls tightly, which is a good thing, because he can't take much of a beating, especially on harder difficulty settings. He'll dive, roll, and snap to cover with the press of a single button, but so will his enemies. Aiming is completely up to you, and the bad guys are crack shots. Still, the game saves automatically after every wave of enemies, and it won't be long before you're cruising to the next lush patch of jungle or climbing a vine covered castle for a spectacular view of an ocean sunset. Until Uncharted 2 came out on Tuesday, no other game looked so alive.
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is fast paced and fun, but tragically brief for the blockbuster title that it is. A skilled player will complete the game in 5-6 hours. But with 60 hidden treasures to find and several skill Trophies to win, one trip won't be nearly enough.
Final Grade: A-