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Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

Developer: Naughty Dog | Publisher: SCEA
Players: 1 Player Game | Genre: Action

Release Date: 11/16/07

uncharted.jpgNaughty Dog is a company that has produced a number of successful franchises on both the PlayStaton and PlayStation 2 Starting with the Crash Bandicoot series on the original PSOne and then moving on to the Jak series on the PS2, Naughty Dog has been responsible for over thirty five million software sales. Not only have their games sold well, but they have been all deep and rich entertainment experiences that all ages could pick up and enjoy. For their first venture into the "next-generation" with PlayStation 3 hardware, Naughty Dog is going in a different direction.

The original Crash Bandicoot games were made with hardware that didn't have the technology or power to push 3D games. To counter this, the team used a cartoonish look and hid a 2D game in a 3D world. When the team moved on to the PS2, there was definitely a lot more power to utilize. However, the system could not realistically replicate a person in a lifelike manner that Naughty Dog was pleased with. So again the team took more of a cartoonish look and feel when they created the Jak series. For the first time, Naughty Dog now feels that they have the power they need to create ultra-realistic worlds with characters that look so believable you will feel that there are real people on your TV. This is the power of the PlayStation 3 and is the direction they are taking their latest title Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.

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In the pre-alpha build shown at Sony's Gamer's Day event in San Diego, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is already shaping up to be a winning combination of highly detailed visuals, dangerous exploration, and intense combat. Looking closer at the combat, Uncharted features both melee and ranged. The majority of the time, players will find that they will stick to ranged combat with their trust pistol or one of many other guns that are scattered throughout the game's many environments. To change weapons, just hit the d-pad. Unfortunately you can only have four total weapons at a time. So if you see a gun you want, players will have to leave something behind to pick it up in most cases.

Once you have your weapon drawn, hit L1 to pull up an aiming cursor. Line up your target and h˜it L1 to fire. L2 will also reload your weapon. You won't get very far if you spend your time running and gunning through the environment though. Enemy AI can be very smart and try to pin you down. Therefore it is essential that Drake take cover by hitting the Circle button. On virtually any surface, the player will take cover and give you a better shot and picking off a nearby enemy without taking damage. The pistol was about the only weapon worth using in the demo due to the weapons not being properly tuned. This will change as the team moves closer to the release date later this year.

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Melee combat was available but due to the game being in a pre-alpha state, this mode of combat was not very useful. In fact, everytime I attempted to battle in any sort of close-range combat, I found myself on the losing side. Even the Developer there was also having his share of difficulties too. I was told that this would be much difference once there is more time to polish the game. Since Naughty Dog has never let me down on past promises, I fully believe that they can and will implement some great melee combat. Perhaps the E3 Media Summit, in July, will give us a better idea of how this is is shaping up.

Visually Uncharted is very realistic and would appear to be something that no other console would be able to reproduce. Each character on screen has incredibly detailed facial expressions and they move around the game world with such fluid animations that you would swear a real person was trapped on your screen. The environments in this build leave a little to be desired. As stated many times already, this is a pre-alpha build and the game is still a little rough around the edges. This includes several glitches in the graphics and the environments. For example, everything is very shiny and there are white specks on virtually all objects and characters. This is apparently a bug that is only on certain TV sets--including the ones used by Sony for the demo stations. Other issues include ledges and structures that our hero cannot grab on to and will fall through. All of these issues, like the others, will be resolved in future builds.

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The demo took roughly thirty minutes to complete and despite all of the early build problems, was an absolute blast to play. I have no doubt that Naughty Dog will be able to resolve any and all issues with the bugs found in this pre-alpha build. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune shows a lot of promise and should make many PlayStation 3 owners happy that they have Sony's next-generation console hooked up to their TV. If we feel that significant changes are made in a future build we see, you can be sure that we will deliver an updated preview for you. Until then, keep your eyes out for this title later this year!

By Kaleb Rutherford - 06/07/07
ESRB Details: Blood, Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, Violence
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Screenshots for Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

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