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"Uncharted: Drake's Fortune"

10/9/09

Since the sequel is coming out next week, I figured now would be a good time to give "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune" a roll...but, I didn't want to buy it.  Enter Meg Cooch, who told me earlier this year that it might be wiser to start renting games now, since save for a couple of major titles, I usually play a game once and then leave it on the shelf.

So, we joined GameFly and made "Uncharted" our first delivery.  The game was good, not great, and was only really spectacular in one area--the game is flat-out gorgeous on a big-screen TV and it moves without a hitch and with zero load times for its entire ten-hours-plus running time.

The game follows Indiana Jones-like treasure hunter Nathan Drake, who heads off to South America in search of El Dorado and the Lost City of Gold.  Some other things happen along the way, and thanks to better-than-average voice acting and all of the Hollywood twists-and-turns you expect from big-budget video game adventures, "Uncharted" is at least interesting during its cut scenes.

But, in breaking down its three main game elements--cover-infused action ala "Gears of War", puzzles and death-defying wall climbing--none of the three elements wows even if all areas are adequate or slightly better.

  • Action: this is one of those games where you walk into an open area where there just happen to be ten statues, eight low walls and, say, an old bus, and then 20 bad guys show up announcing their presence by yelling things like "There he is!!" and then firing at you, allowing you to take cover, fire from cover, and move to more cover.  The enemy AI at least always has bad guys doing the same thing, so taking out bad guys is satisfying, but not exactly fresh.  Weapons are standard and limited ammo at least makes you think on your feet.
  • Puzzles:  sadly, the PS3 has done puzzles poorly, but games like "God of War" and "ICO" on the PS2 had great puzzles so the puzzles in "Uncharted" really suck.  Worse, they are so easy that even my sorry ass got through them in seconds.  Worse than that is the fact that apparently in the sequel, there are even less puzzles...oh well.
  • Wall climbing:  I don't think you can really do half-assed wall climbing; because of how this is set up, there are sequences where you have to guide Drake through a series of "jump up to that ledge, then jump to that vine, then swing to that pipe" exercises that no sane human being would ever attempt, even under duress.  There were times that I was actually laughing while this was going on; it just didn't feel right for a guy to risk his life to get to an open window, but, there you are.  "Prince of Persia" on PS3 did this so well that it puts the wall climbing in "Uncharted" to shame, even if it also made no real sense for a guy to swing from place to place to risk his life.

As a rental, "Uncharted" was still fun, and here's to hoping that the sequel comes up with some fresh ideas.

Rating:  eBay

 

Feedback?  Comments?  Salma Hayek's digits?  justin@bellviewmovies.com

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either half.com or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 11/05/09