Ask a retrogamer what makes a game “retro”, and you’ll get as many asnswers are there are grains of sand in the Sahara desert…well, maybe not that many, but what makes a game “retro”? Length of time it has been released? Has the console it was first played on been discontinued? Or are there other criteria that I’m not aware of that classifies a game as “retro”? I would love to hear from you about what you think makes a video game “retro”.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is an action-adventure game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Released for the PlayStation 3 in 2007, it is the first of a series of games that follows the fortunes of treasure hunter Nathan Drake, as he pursues mythical treasures across the globe. Although it was remastered for the PlayStation 4 in 2016, for this review I played the original version.
You play as Nathan Drake, who believes himself to be a direct descendant of Elizabethan explorer Sir Francis Drake (c. 1540-1596). Drake has been searching for the lost city of El Dorado and the trail as brought him to their current location.
The game begins in an undisclosed location (one assumes it’s near the Caribbean). Drake is being filmed by journalist Elena Fisher as they raise a coffin from the seabed. No sooner have they opened the coffin (I won’t tell you what’s inside) then they are ambushed by pirates. Once the pirates are dealt with, Drake and fellow treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan, continue to follow a trail of breadcrumbs. However, they aren’t the only treasure hunters who have an interest in El Dorado.
Uncharted is a mix of action-adventure and platformer. The game is split between intense fire fights and jumping and climbing (with a few puzzles thrown in for good measure).
Enemies can be defeated in numerous ways: You can use a stealth attack to sneak up behind them, although if you’re spotted this makes it incredibly hard to do. You can have a straight up fist fight with the option to perform a few combos, but if you are being attacked by more than one enemy, this option leaves you open to being shot easily. The third is to use an array of weapons including various handguns, machine guns, shotguns, sniper rifles and grenades. You can only carry one side arm and one rifle/shotgun at any one time. When an enemy is killed you can collect ammunition or different weapons from them.
Guns can be fired in three ways: You can either aim and shoot (most accurate), shoot from the hip (not very accurate but good for an emergency at close range) and shooting blindly when in a covered position (very handy if you are low on life and have an enemy approaching).
For grenades, an arc will appear whilst aiming to show the trajectory of the grenade.
Hint: If you see an enemy about to throw a grenade, try to shoot him at least once. Even if he doesn’t die, he will drop the grenade and it will explode, hopefully killing him and anyone nearby.
Interestingly, there is no health bar in the traditional sense. Instead, when you are hit, a red blood like fog/splay appears on the edge of the screen which also indicates the direction of the attacker. If you continue to take damage, the screen will lose colour and become black and white. When you are near death, you will also hear a heartbeat pounding away. Drake’s health will return to normal once he reaches a location where he is out of range of enemy attack.
There are a few occasions where you will be riding vehicles. One is a jeep and the other is a jet ski. For the jeep, Elena will be driving, so that part of the game is done automatically. Your job is to use the mounted gun to destroy your pursuers. For the jet ski parts, you control both the jet ski, driven by Drake, and the attacking done by Elena. Simply press the aim button and Elena will aim her gun at any assailant (it does take a bit of getting used to).
To add some replay value to the game, there are 60 treasures hidden throughout the levels for you to find. They are tricky to spot! You will see some of them flash like a small white star. When you are near them, a triangle button icon will appear with a small treasure chest icon meaning you can pick them up.
How Does It Handle?
I think the game handles really well. The controls are intuitive and there is a nice mix of intense gun battles and puzzles for you to solve. The only issue I had with the controls is that sometimes Drake will hide against a wall or crouch behind a wall when that was not your intention, leading to him being shot and leading me to swear at the controller. Another issue was when piloting the jetski. I found that you always needed to stop before firing, leaving you a bit of a sitting duck.
This is a beautiful game. The characters look and move realistically and the environments are incredibly immersive and stunning to look at. Some critics did note a few graphical issues such as some screen tearing but I don’t think the average gamer would really notice/care too much.
Music and SFX
Apart from the main theme, which I love, the in-game music is quite understated but at the same time atmospheric, adding an air of mystery and suspense. It does not play all the time and when it does, you can be forgiven for not noticing as you will be engrossed in the game. The voice acting is great and sounds very authentic. There is great chemistry between Drake and Sully and the dialogue that continues as you move throughout the game feels natural between the two.
Although some argue that the game is too short, I think this game has lots of replay value. Collecting the treasures, along with completing other accomplishments such as killing a certain number of enemies with a particular weapon or in a particular way, will unlock bonuses such as concept art, unlimited ammo, alternate costumes and the ability to play as other characters. This, as well as the four difficulty settings give this game a huge amount of replay value. You’ll definitely get your money’s worth from this game.
Did I complete the game?
Yes, I have completed the game on crushing.
What The Critics Said:
1Up: (The original article has been removed)Overall 8.5/10
Edge: “Amid all the comparisons Uncharted tempts, however, one thing remains: it is a great adventure story that plays excellently. There’s nothing substantially new in what it does – indeed its influences are obvious – and there are some minor problems, but through judicious pruning and reweaving Naughty Dog has crafted one of the finest action adventures to date. It’s involving in its narrative, a triumph of pacing, and simply a pleasure to play. Your move, Ms Croft. Overall 8/10”.
Game Informer: “Uncharted isn’t destined to be a classic; I don’t think there are enough new ideas here to put it in the genius category. However, this is game that is very sure of its identity and does the things that it set out to do very well. It’s a fun, fast, and memorable thrill ride, and perhaps the closest video games have come yet to approximating the experience of an interactive summer blockbuster. Overall 8.75/10”.
Game Pro: “Uncharted reminded me a lot of an Indiana Jones movie in that both are fun and enjoyable romps that are just good enough to make you forgive their respective weaknesses. It isn’t going to single-handedly pull Sony’s bacon out of the fire this holiday season but it is definitely a title that PS3 owners can be proud to call their own Overall 4.25/5″.
Gamespot: “It took us about eight hours to get through Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, and it was an action-packed eight hours, without much in the ways of load times or informational status screens to break it up. The imbalance between the gunplay and the platforming is jarring but forgivable–but the platforming itself works pretty well and looks fantastic thanks to the game’s excellent motion-captured animation. If nothing else, Uncharted is a graphical showcase for the PlayStation 3, and it dazzles the senses at nearly every opportunity. Overall 8/10“.
Gamespy: “Ultimately, there’s little to dislike about Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Even if you’re not a platforming fan, there’s plenty of action here to balance out the near-death leaps of faith. It might not have the running time of other titles on the market, but the leanness of the experience and time invested are fulfilling, plus the replay value is strong. It’s also worth noting that you might also be surprised by how much it pushes the envelope on its T rating. The violence isn’t graphic, but a bloody headshot is a bloody headshot, and the amount of blue language is surprising. It’s also utilizes the system’s technology wonderfully for both the visuals and load-free gaming. The PS3 has received a good share of solid games this year, but any gamers who own the console owe it to themselves to check out Uncharted. It stands out from the current sea of first-person shooters, and you won’t find a better action/adventure game this year. Overall 4.5/5“.
IGN: “Here’s the thing about Uncharted, the final sum is far greater than the individual parts. Maybe you don’t dig the combat or maybe the pop-in gets you down, but the overall package of an endearing story, outstanding score, great performances and fun gameplay should put this title on the top of your holiday wishlist. Say what you will about the PS3, but Uncharted isn’t just a standout for Sony — it’s a standout for gaming as a whole. Overall 9.1/10“.
“I frickin’ love this game. It looks incredible, it has a great storyline and there is plenty of variety in the controls to keep you interested. It has tons of replay value and I think the experience of the game as a whole easily outweighs any graphical or game length issues it may have.”
What are your memories of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.
 Naruto. ‘Uncharted Review’. 1up. (https://n4g.com/news/83798/1up-uncharted-review-8-5 Accessed 28th December 2020).
 EdgeStaff. (26th November 2007). ‘Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune Review’. Edge. (https://web.archive.org/web/20130618105707/http://www.edge-online.com/review/uncharted-drakes-fortune-review/2/ Accessed 28th December 2020).
 Helgeson, M., (December 2007). ‘Pass the Popcorn’. Game Informer. (https://web.archive.org/web/20080409120343/http://gameinformer.com/Games/Review/200712/R07.1114.0939.00825.htm Accessed 28th December 2020).
 Kim, T., (14th November 2007). ‘Review: Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune’. GamePro. (https://web.archive.org/web/20071116013247/http://www.gamepro.com/sony/ps3/games/reviews/147948.shtml Accessed 29th December 2020).
 Davis, R., (19th November 2007). ‘Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune Review’. Gamespot. (https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/uncharted-drakes-fortune-review/1900-6183147/ Accessed 28th December 2020).
 McGarvey, S,. (14th November 2007). ‘Review – Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune’. Gamespy. (http://ps3.gamespy.com/playstation-3/naughty-dog-ps3-project/835136p1.html Accessed 28th December 2020).
 Miller, G., (13th November 2007). ‘Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune Review’. IGN. (https://www.ign.com/articles/2007/11/13/uncharted-drakes-fortune-review Accessed 28th December 2020).