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JulianProxy avatar 4:08 PM on 08.31.2009  (server time)
Going Out On a Limb: Uncharted

Last week, I picked up Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. I wanted something new to play, and it was only $30, so I figured I'd give it a try. Even though this game has been out for what seems like forever, I never really got around to it or paid much attention to it in the past. I had decided that it was "not my type of game" and moved on to other interests to occupy my time.

Boy, was I wrong.

This game may not be the best game ever, but the good definitely outweighs the bad, in my experience. I'm about two-thirds of the way through according to my save data, and I have really enjoyed this game so far.

The story, of course, revolves around treasure hunter Nathan Drake looking for El Dorado and being stopped along the way by others trying to get the treasure first. Surprisingly, the other side seems to have almost unlimited resources; none of which can seem to take down a single man. I'm mostly interested to see what happens, but I wouldn't call the story revolutionary, either. Still, the story does its job admirably. Gameplay goes between platforming and gunplay. Combine these elements with small amounts of cinematic story-telling, and you basically have Indiana Jones: The Video Game.

The platforming is generally pretty good. It seems that the platforming is kind of fuzzy in how it works. By this, I mean that it doesn't feel like precise platforming. Timing and direction seem to only be general guidelines for moving Nathan Drake around. Often, it looks like Drake is jumping after he actually leaves the platform in order to reach the next platform. This generally makes the platforming pretty easy. I'm not pulling off all of my moves on the first try, but the platforming doesn't boggle my mind for hours, either.

The shooter part of the game was the part that I was most reserved about. I suck at shooting guns, and as a result, I don't play shooters. After a small issue in Chapter 4, I've had no issue with the combat part of the game. More than anything, I've attributed my initial issues to not playing shooters at all. Playing on normal, I find the difficulty not easy, but not difficult, either. In other words, "normal" is aptly named. I only mention this, because I generally have such a fear of playing games where I have to aim and shoot and thought that it would be insanely difficult or not fun at all for me.

Most fighting seems to involve finding good sources of cover and figuring out where to move to in order to take out the entire crowd in the encounter. In this way, the shooter mechanic has almost a puzzle feel to it. Maybe most games are like this. I find this enjoyable, because each time I die in an encounter, I can gauge how much closer I am to figuring out how to finish it. For someone that sucks at shooters, it's nice to feel like you're making progress, even when you die.

The presentation of the game is really very good. It is probably the nicest looking PlayStation 3 game that I have seen this far in terms of overall package. The environments are lush and detailed and a pleasure to walk around in. Searching for all sixty treasure pieces seems like no chore, because I get to walk around and look at all of the detail put into the game. There are situations where some of the character models look a bit off, but for the most part, they work exceptionally well.

All in all, I'm really glad that I went out on a limb and picked up Uncharted. I'm excited to finish this and play the sequel this October, but it may have to wait, since the release schedule for games this October would pretty much have me buying games so fast I wouldn't be able to complete any of them. Maybe the sequel will get the fate of the Christmas List, if I can stand to wait that long.

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