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Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is an action-adventure third-person shooter platform game developed by Naughty Dog, and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for PlayStation 3. It is the first game in the Uncharted series. Combining action-adventure and platforming elements with a third-person perspective, the game charts the journey of protagonist Nathan Drake, supposed descendant of the explorer Sir Francis Drake, as he seeks the lost treasure of El Dorado, with the help of journalist Elena Fisher and mentor Victor Sullivan.

Originally announced at E3 2006, the title was developed for about two years before being released at the end of 2007. Seen as a key title for the PlayStation 3 during the holiday season of 2007, the game was well received by critics, many of whom cited its technical achievements and its high production values, similar to that of summer blockbuster films. The game went on to sell more than one million copies in ten weeks, and become part of the European best-selling Platinum Range of titles. A sequel titled Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, was released in 2009 and a third entry to the series, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, was released in 2011.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Plot

Nathan Drake (Nolan North) recovers the coffin of the explorer Sir Francis Drake, his ancestor, from the ocean floor off the coast of Panama, using coordinates inscribed on a ring in Nate's possession. He is assisted by journalist Elena Fisher (Emily Rose), who is there to record the events for a documentary. However, the coffin contains only a diary written by Sir Francis, pointing to the location of El Dorado, the fabled city of gold which Sir Francis sought, proving that he faked his death as Nate originally believed. After their boat is destroyed by a band of pirates who have been tracking Nate, Victor "Sully" Sullivan (Richard McGonagle), Nate's friend and partner, rescues them; he and Nate ditch Elena in order to covertly travel into the Amazon and find El Dorado, where they discover clues that it is in fact a large gold statue, and that it was removed long ago by Spanish Conquistadors. Searching further, Nate and Sully discover a long-abandoned Kriegsmarine U-boat containing a missing page from the Drake diary that points to a southern tropic island in the Pacific where the statue was likely taken.

Before they can set out to find the island, Nate and Sully are accosted by Gabriel Roman (Simon Templeman), a competitive treasure hunter who has hired the services of mercenaries led by Atoq Navarro (Robin Atkin Downes), an archaeologist with knowledge of the statue, and Indonesian pirates led by Eddy Raja (James Sie), an old rival of Nate. The mercenaries hired by Roman and the pirates who have been tracking Nate are revealed to be working together to find El Dorado in order to compensate for money that Sully owes Roman. Nate refuses to help Roman, who then shoots Sully in the chest. At that moment the U-boat explodes from a torpedo Nate accidentally set off and he escapes. Elena arrives to confront Nate but the two flee from the scene and fly off in Sully's plane to the Pacific island where the Spanish took the statue.

Having been shot down near the island and separated, Nate works his way to a fort where he spots Elena's parachute; though he spots her from afar he is unable to find her and continues into the fort, where he finds a message from Sir Francis stating that he had gone to the fort's Tower. Upon arriving at Drake's Tower, he is soon captured by Eddy, who demands that Nate assist him in finding the treasure. Elena rescues him and they are shortly reunited, escaping from the fort, Eddy and his pirates. The two work their way through a long-abandoned port city and discover, through a log book in its custom house, that the statue was moved further inland; as Elena spots Sully - alive and well - working with Navarro, heading north, they decide to follow him to the monastery. Along the way, Elena is forced to drop her camera to save herself. Once inside the monastery, they locate hidden passages and rescue Sully, who survived thanks to Drake's diary blocking the bullet, and played along to fool his captors.

Nate and Elena find a series of maze-like passages below the monastery leading to a large treasure vault in which they find Sir Francis Drake's body, assuming that he died on the island searching for the treasure. Before they move on, they encounter Eddy running scared for his life, chased by mutated humans possessing incredible speed and strength. After Nate co-operates with Eddy to fight for their lives, he and Elena escape when Eddy is killed by the creatures, and find themselves in an abandoned Nazi submarine base built into the island. Nate ventures out into the base to restore power to exit the base. During his exploration, he discovers that the Germans had sought the statue during World War II but that, like the Spaniards before them, learned that the statue was cursed; the creatures attacking them are in fact the mutated descendants of the original Spanish colonists. Sir Francis, knowing the statue's power, was actually trying to keep it on the island, before he was killed too by the mutants.

Nate attempts to return to Elena, but finds her captured by Roman and Navarro. He and Sully fight through the descendants and Roman's forces to find that Roman has the statue. Navarro urges Roman to open it; inside is the mummy of El Dorado. The dust from the rotting corpse is inhaled by Roman, who begins to mutate, before Navarro shoots and kills him; he had planned to sell the mutagen as a weapon all along. He then has the statue lifted out by helicopter as his mercenaries are attacked by the descendants. Nate then jumps onto the net the statue is in. Elena, held captive in the helicopter, inadvertently causes the death of the pilot, and the helicopter then crashes onto a cargo ship used by Roman. A final fight breaks out between Nate and Navarro and his mercenaries, before Nate is able to rescue Elena from the helicopter. As Navarro regains consciousness, Nate pushes the helicopter off the tanker, whilst the chain connecting the helicopter to the statue, which has become tangled around his leg, plunges Navarro and the statue into the ocean for good.

Moments later, Sully arrives on a small speedboat, having escaped the island and taken several boxes of treasure he found in the cave. Once aboard Elena reminds Nate that because she lost her camera, he still owes her a story. As the boat sails towards the horizon, Nate assures her he will not break his promise.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Gameplay

Gameplay in Uncharted is a combination of action-adventure gameplay elements and 3D platforming with a third-person perspective. Platforming elements allow Nate to jump, swim, grab and move along ledges, climb and swing from ropes, and perform other acrobatic actions that allow players to make their way along the ruins in the various areas of the island that Drake explores.

When facing enemies, the player can either use melee and combo attacks at close range to take out foes or can opt to use weapons. Melee attacks comprise a variety of single punches, while combo attacks are activated through specific sequences of button presses that, when timed correctly, offer much greater damage; the most damaging of these is the specific "brutal combo", which forces enemies to drop twice the ammunition they would normally leave. Nate can only carry one pistol and one rifle at a time, and there is a limited amount of ammunition per gun. Picking up a different firearm switches that weapon for the new one. Grenades are also available at certain points, and the height of the aiming arc is adjusted by tilting the Sixaxis controller up or down. These third-person perspective elements were compared by several reviewers to Gears of War, in that the player can have Drake take cover behind walls, and use either blind fire or aimed fire to kill enemies. In common with the aforementioned game, Uncharted lacks an actual on-screen health bar; instead, when the player takes damage, the graphics begin to lose color. While resting or taking cover for a brief period, Drake's health level, indicated by the screen color, returns to normal.

The game also includes vehicle sections, where Drake must protect the jeep he and Elena are in using a mounted turret, and where Drake and Elena ride a jet ski along water-filled routes while avoiding enemy fire and explosive barrels. While players direct Drake in driving the jet ski, they may also switch to Elena by aiming the gun in order to use her weapon either the grenade launcher or the Beretta, depending on the chapter in defense, or to clear the barrels from their path.

The game also features reward points, which can be gained by collecting 60 hidden treasures in the game that glimmer momentarily or by completing certain accomplishments, such as achieving a number of kills using a specific weapon, performing a number of headshots, or using specific methods of killing enemies. In subsequent playthroughs of the game, the player can use these rewards points to unlock special options; these include in-game bonuses such as alternate costumes and unlimited ammunition but also non-game extras, such as making-of videos and concept art. There are also several references to other Naughty Dog games, especially the Jak and Daxter series; this is done through the "Ottsel" branding on Drake and Fisher's wetsuits, a reference to the species that mixes otter and weasel found in the game, and the strange relic found in one of the earlier chapters, which is actually a precursor orb from the same series.

The game is censored when playing on a Japanese console to remove blood, which normally appears when shooting enemies; this follows the trend of other censored console games in the region, such as Dead Rising and Resistance: Fall of Man.

Reception
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was well received by game critics. Game Informer complimented the visuals and dialogue between the characters Drake and Fisher, calling them stunning and entertaining respectively. They further added that the production values appeared high, citing the level of detail and musical score. PlayStation Magazine echoed similar statements about the visuals and compared them to that of Crysis.

The overall presentation of the game received unanimous praise from critics, who recognized the game's high production values, describing them as "top-notch", "incredible" or comparing them to those found in Hollywood. When combined with the overall style of the game, this led many reviewers to compare Uncharted to summer blockbuster films, with the action and theme of the game drawing comparisons to the Indiana Jones film series. As part of the presentation, the game's story and atmosphere were also received well. The depth of the characters was praised, each having "their own tone". The voice acting was also received well, as the cast "nails its characterizations"; overall, the voice acting was described as a "big-star performance", "superb" and "stellar".

The technical achievements in creating this presentation were also lauded. The graphics and visuals were a big part of this, including appreciation of the "lush" jungle environments, with lighting effects greatly adding to them. The game's water effects were also appreciated. Overall, many reviewers commented that, at the time, it was one of the best-looking PlayStation 3 games available. Further to the graphical aspects, both facial animation and the animation of characters, such as Nate's "fluid" animations as he performs platforming sections were noted, although the wilder animations of enemies reacting to being shot were over-animated "to perhaps a laughable degree".

Criticism of the game included some graphical issues, such as texture pop-in and screen tearing. Of more concern were gameplay issues, including overall gameplay length being rather short, with reviewers completing the game in anywhere from six to ten hours, and some disappointment with the "not particularly memorable" vehicle sections; the inability to both aim weapons and drive the jet-ski was a well-noted issue. Further, some "frustrating, repetitive slogs" with regards to the "constant stream" of pirates and mercenaries, and "moving from one infuriating firefight to the next" towards the end of the game were cited as part of poorer elements of overall gameplay.

Awards

Uncharted received several accolades from web review sites such as Kotaku and IGN, who named it their PlayStation 3 game of the year. The game went on to sell one million copies after its first ten weeks of retail, and later became one of the first batch of titles to be released as part of Europe's budget Platinum range of best-selling titles.


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