In our Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune review, we explore this critically acclaimed action-adventure game. Players control Nathan Drake as he hunts for the treasure of El Dorado with journalist Elena Fisher and mentor Victor Sullivan. Uncharted is praised for its cinematic storytelling, engaging characters, and thrilling gameplay, making it a beloved franchise and an influential part of gaming history.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is developed by Naughty Dogs and published by PlayStation. It was released on 19 November 2007, for PlayStation 3, with a Playstation 4 version released bundled with the 2nd and 3rd game in the series in 2015.
“There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory.“
—Sir Francis Drake, 1587
– Sic Parvis Magna – Greatness from Small Beginnings –
These words passed from famous explorer Sir Francis Drake now sit with his self-proclaimed ancestor and fortune hunter Nathan Drake. Bestowed upon him, engraved on the inside of a ring along with the coordinate of Sir Francis’s final resting place, Nathan locates the coffin and what “Remains” of Sir Francis.
“For example—you can’t defile an empty coffin.“
Nathan Drake – Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (2007)
Finding the clue left behind by the explorer, Nathan is pushed to find what was hidden by his ancestor, leading him on an adventure bigger than he expected resulting in the find that could make Nathan Rich, El Dorado.
The game overall, even the Uncharted franchise, feels like the answer to the Tomb Raider situation that was present in the mid to late 2000 – 2010 time frame. We had a good few Tomb Raider games during that time, titles including:
- Tomb Raider: Legends (2006)
- Tomb Raider: Anniversary (2007)
- Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008)
Where Tomb Raider is always welcome, these titles didn’t really satisfy the same as Uncharted did and still does. The thing about Uncharted was it was different enough from where the formerly mentioned franchise was and was doing, Nathan Drake and the superb vocals of Nolan North really made the character and the subsequent games really stand out. This was something that Tomb Raiders Lara Croft was somewhat lacking, where there were plenty of things in Tomb Raider that was good, Lara didn’t have the attitude that Drake has, and this was enough to give Uncharted a chance. There are plenty who will say that Uncharted is a cheap copy of Tomb Raider however Uncharted is an exclusive title to Sony Platforms and stands on its own merits, whereas Tomb Raider was established in the PS1 generation and has a history to live up to, uncharted at the time did not. This gave it unpredictability and an exciting adventure with a hero who had the potential, could grow.
Developed by Naughty Dog and originally released in 2007 for the PS3, a re-release was made available in 2015 as part of The Nathan Drake Collection for PS4 which was handled by Bluepoint Games. Naughty Dog, founded in 1984, was best known for its work on both the Crash Bandicoot series and Jak and Dexter franchise, which is a long way away from Uncharted. Both Crash and Jak were more stylistic, whereas Uncharted was aimed at a more realistic approach. This was only solidified by the utilisation of Motion Capture technologies employed in the development pipeline of Drake’s Fortune.
Fortune Hunter Nathan Drake, along with his close friend, and mentor Victor “God-Damn” Sullivan set out on a journey to hunt down the fabled treasure of El Dorado, following in the footsteps of Sir Francis Drake. Joining him is a reporter, and journalist Elena Fisher, who Nathan promises the coffin of the famous explorer. Upon realising what they have stumbled into, and it is bigger than they expected Drake and Sullivan decide to leave Elena so as not to attract attention they would rather not have to deal with.
Throughout the game, there are plenty of twists and turns that make the game worthy of playing. Although a little out there with the context of the story sometimes, examples being a German U-boat in the middle of the jungle or the fact that the Germans hunted for the treasure during World War II, they were fantastic additions that kept me wanting to find out why and pushed me to the end of the campaign.
The way the game handles the player interaction is simple yet very effective. Most of the time you will be in 1 of 2 states, the first being expeditionary, and the second is in a combat situation. Exploration is easy to understand and you will be able to climb, hang, jump and swing on ropes. The combat is where things get fun as you have a pretty varied selection of guns to use, in addition to this you have melee. You can even use traps in the world to your advantage, and if that wasn’t enough you can even combine both states to deal with enemies.
So you can hang off a wall and fire your sidearm or toss a grenade at enemies, how cool is that? Other things that you can do are:
- Drive a Vehicle
- Limited Combo of melee attacks
- Collectable Treasures
Every part of the game has been carefully designed to make the flow of the gameplay work well and function in cooperation with the cutscenes, which gives the best possible outcome for the game.
In addition to this, the game can be modified in subsequent playthroughs to allow for an easier time, or if you would like the making of videos and concept work. The collectable treasures were also linked to a trophy, which at the time, were simple medals like the one that is seen below. Where there were simple and not very varied, it was a nice icon that you should show off on your PS3 and later your PS4 as you had earned the trophy. The below trophy is for the Platinum, and therefore more unique than the other.
Throughout the game, you run into a good number of characters other than your allies, all with equally important roles to play. Nathan Drake is an important character, with him being the protagonist, however the supporting cast of other characters like:
- Victor Sullivan
- Elena Fisher
- Eddie Raja
- Gabriel Roman
- Atoq Navarro
All of these are fantastic supporting characters for Drake’s adventure. That being noted there are all the soldiers and pirates that you will encounter who have little vocal roles and react differently making the world feel more believable.
The main points of this section however are to highlight the dynamic between all the characters in the game and how well they function together. The main one is the voice talent of Nolan North, who “IS” Nathan Drake. The way that Drake is designed to be the kinda character who is mostly always confident and has this need to be in danger is reflected incredibly well, and probably wouldn’t work as well without North’s voice. This is only reaffirmed by the way that Drake tries to defuse situations in a similar way to how Spider-Man would, with jokes or acting silly. An example of this is in the early game when Gabrial Roman is first introduced to Drake, drakes response being:
“Yeah, don’t you guys usually just cut off a finger or something?“
Nathan Drake – Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (2007)
This shows off his jokey personality at one of its best in the game. Nathan, knowing that the odds are against him and that it might be the end of the journey for either him or Sullivan, attempts to defuse a situation with a touch of humour.
To conclude, Drake’s Fortune is a game that can keep you hooked and on the edge of your seat until the conclusion and the credits roll. Every turn makes you think if something is coming and the witty and cocky attitude that Nathan has, keeps you wanting to know more, this is only reaffirmed by the cinematic environmental progression sequences and the fact that history tells a different story. As History tells us Sir Francis Drake, a renowned Explorer and Privater, never had children, Uncharted however shows the legend in a new and somewhat one-sided way. This being said Nathan Drake’s Legacy is explained in later additions to the franchise so this was not really a big thing that kept the player wondering unless it was addressed in the game. The only downside to the game is that time hasn’t been kind to it and although it really is something else, once you have experienced the later games in the franchise, such as Uncharted: The Legacy of Thieves, it’s hard to see a younger Drake. Other points that work against it, however good it is, are the little odd sequences like the German U-Boat in the middle of the jungle. Seriously at least half the island must have been submerged for it to be there, and the orientation is a little peculiar. That being said it shouldn’t let it worry you as the game is really something special, and as previously stated is only made better by having the voice talents.
From a personal standpoint, I would really like to see a remake of, not just Drake’s Fortune, but all 3 games included in the Nathan Drake Collection for the PS5. Where a Remaster on the PS4 was nice and lets you experience the story on both the PS4 and PS5 it doesn’t quite “Scratch the itch” that I would like from the Uncharted Franchise. Knowing what Naughty Dog did with The Last Of Us Part 1 would be something I would like to see with Uncharted, and seeing Nathan in a higher definition and closer to the look of how real he looks in A Thiefs End would be amazing.
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