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Score One for Sony and PS3

By Staff | Mar 11, 2008

The time is finally right for getting a Playstation 3. First of all, Sony has made a 40GB version of the console affordable, at least more affordable than the original launch price anyway. And a year into its release, the PS3 exclusive titles are starting to hit the shelves. I’ve punished Sony long enough, though it was deserved for trying to fetch that kind of money for a gaming console.

So what game finally made me surrender my hard earned cash? A little adventure game known as “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.”  Visually this is the best looking game I’ve seen on any system. Easily. It’s awe inspiring from the bright, lush foliage of the jungle environments to dark, damp depths of a cavern to the best sunset ever put in a video game. The lighting effects dazzle as they dance shadows across the rock walls, luring you further into the abandoned ruins. You control the fortune hunter Nathan Drake, a supposed descendant of Sir Francis Drake, who is in search of a lost city of gold. Unfortunately, your quest is met with great opposition from another adventurer with his eyes on the same prize.

You’ll start with only a handgun to dispatch of the greedy enemies, but have access to all the weapons they drop. You’ll find an AK-47, an MP-40, a shotgun and M-4 assault rifle, a very powerful sniper rifle, and you’ll also lob a few grenades. There are a handful of factors that make this game feel exceptionally fun to play. The first is how well the A.I. responds to you. They swarm on your position, take cover as you do and peek out to exchange fire at all the right times. And they look incredible while doing it. Developer Naughty Dog (“Jak and Daxter,” “Crash Bandicoot”) did a flawless motion capture job for this game. The characters come at you so fluidly and react to gunfire so naturally, it’s hard not be completely immersed in the surroundings. The whole game was filmed as a movie first, with the voice actors also doing the motion capture duties. The result is a very compelling story, with sincere dialogue and characters you can really connect with.

“Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune” perfectly blends plat forming elements with simple, easy to learn gunplay. There is not an auto aiming feature, which is a nice change up that adds instant difficulty to the gun fights. You’ll traverse cliff ledges and scale walls with delicate hand-over-hand precision while looking for the treasure. There are a few vehicle chases, one that lets you fire a grenade launcher at the pursuing vehicles and another that involves navigating a jet ski up a swift river while dodging enemy gunfire. These breaks from normal plat forming keep the game feeling fresh so the jumping from ledge to ledge never frustrates you. There are some basic puzzles to be solved to open doors, raise or lower ladders and such. Most are easily solved, though if you’re stuck for a while the game will offer up a hint to keep you on course. As for item collection, there are 60 hidden relics to discover along the way. Finding them will unlock various bonus features like a “mirror mode” that flips the entire game world end for end, letting you play in the opposite direction.

“Uncharted” is perhaps an overlooked title as it contains no online play. Which is refreshing to me as developing engaging online play has come to overshadow making a solid single player experience. This is the most complete single player game available to next generation gamers. If you already own a PS3, you should definitely pick this game up. If you’re riding the fence on buying a PS3, this title should make you take notice. Though Naughty Dog set the bar pretty high, it’s only going to get better for gamers this year.

Contact Matt at meifler@graffitiwv.com