Saturday, June 12, 2010

Video game number one hundred and sixty one: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

Video game review number one hundred and sixty one in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is"Uncharted: Drake's Fortune".

Three years ago at PAX in Seattle, I participated in a scavenger hunt that was a marketing campaign for this game. I did pretty well, and won a framed piece of art from the developer which is currently hanging on the wall in my office. Even though this picture has been staring me in the face every day, this is the first time I've ever gotten around to finally playing the game.

I told Heather that I'd heard this one had a good story, so she sat down with me to watch. The story is indeed interesting, and we got through the first 4 chapters in on Saturday night. The plot is similar to an Indiana Jones movie, or perhaps National Treasure...and for the first few levels, you feel like you're in an adventure. You solve puzzles, you fight some bad guys, you travel through the jungle. The concept itself is a lot of fun.

As far as the gameplay goes...well, that's another story.

First of all, this game features far too many jumping puzzles. You are basically some sort of parkour Superman, and you jump from cliff to cliff, from ledge to ledge and swing from vines constantly. On every level I've been on so far, jumping puzzles have made up almost 50% of the journey from point A to point B. A lot of the time, these puzzles take place on the sides of cliffs, and if you fall, you die. This annoys the shit out of me, but it's not the worst thing about this game.

The worst thing about this game is that once you get a few levels in, you constantly find yourself in gunfights against 10-15 people. You kill them, you turn a corner, and there are 10-15 more. You can shoot them or punch them, but neither is particularly satisfying. You can pull off button combos to knock them out if you are lucky, but often, the enemy would kill me before I could get one. I ended up sticking to the gun and ignoring fist fights.

I really liked the story and wanted to find out what happens next, but have to fight what appears to be a small army to get there. In a game like Call of Duty, you expect to fight an army. In a game like this, it just feels like the developers wanted to slow down the story, and they did it by putting 15 guys with guns in your path every 5 minutes.

I got so sick of these bullshit gun battles that I put the game down at one point. When I picked it back up the next day, I was right back in the middle of them. Eventually, I just didn't want to play this game anymore. What's worse is that I actually received the sequel to this game as a Christmas present, and I was REALLY looking forward to playing it. Uncharted 2 got almost perfect ratings from every place that reviews games...and I want to play it. Of course, after suffering through the first 7 or 8 levels of this one (and I'm not even halfway done with it yet)...I'm not sure I have the drive to finish it before the sequel. That's just a giant pain in the ass for me.

This was a rental, and I've returned it. I'm hoping to borrow a copy from my friend John at some point to finish the story, and then I'll play the sequel. WHEN that will be is anyone's guess. It's sort of like Heavy Rain. Decent story, but shitty gameplay, and I haven't made up my mind so far as to whether or not I'll be suffering through the game to see more of the story yet. I'll probably do it, but it may be quite awhile.

Overall? 5/10. This game has great graphics, a great story, great music and good acting. All these qualities could have made this a 9 or higher. Unfortunately, the shitty and repetitive gameplay takes it down to a five in my book. I know it's a pS3 greatest hit, but as far as I'm concerned, it's a dud. I really hope the sequel is better.

Trophies? Ok. Let's talk about the trophies. First of all, this game was released before Sony started trying to copy the success Xbox has had by putting achievements in all their games. I think they went back and patched this one with trophies, and as a result...they have some pretty shitty goals for the player.

In a game like this, I'd expect trophies for completing chapters of the game, but only get them for shooting people, or collecting all the hidden items. Kill 50 people with a headshot! That's a trophy. Find 10 pieces of treasure! That's another trophy.

It's just silly...because they're almost all like that. I've unlocked a few, but I don't think I'll get very many more, even if I do go back and beat this game. They're certainly not worth the grind.

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