Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Demo Impressions - 14/11/2007

We go hands-on with the highly anticipated PSN demo and bring you our impressions of how it's shaped up.

Back at the launch of the PS3, everybody was claiming that there weren't enough decent games, which to be fair, was partly true, as the better games on the system had come out earlier on Microsoft's console. Though alarming at first, the smarter of the critics backed the PS3 saying that the games will come, and that the PS3 is future proof. You just had to give it time. Months later, we no longer crave for titles, but we have a games onslaught. We've gone from there not being enough games, to there being too many. And at the top of most people's list will be Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. We took time out of our 'busy schedule' to see how the game is shaping up.

The demo kicks in with a medium sized sequence showing off the spectacular graphics, and unbelievably realistic water effects. Alena and Nathan are hovering over an uninhabited island when their plane is hit by an anti-aircraft bomb. Nate and his female companion parachute off the plane, but are split up, leaving you to find your belongings, and your friend.

The storyline of the game is based around Sir Francis Drake and his hidden treasures, reminiscent of an Indiana Jones flick. So, true to that style, the island is jam packed with loads of different textures and colours. From the murky green vines and the dark blue rivers, to the deep brown walls and monochrome skulls. The art direction is heavily apparent throughout the demo, and Naughty Dog has tried to give a deserted island feel to it. The music is great too and it really immerses you into the experience.

And as good as the music is, the visuals follow suit. The scenery is perfectly rendered, and at no point does the frame-rate take a dip. The environments are lush and pretty, with flowers blossoming and walls being hacked away as bullets, or your weight, damage them. As much as it sounds a little "who cares?" the water effects are absolutely top notch. When Nathan walks into the water, or gets soaked by any of the various water falls in the demo, his clothes get wet, and as you go through the rest of the demo he starts to dry off. Something as little as this wouldn't be such a big deal for a game like PGR4 or Killzone 2, but in Uncharted there's water everywhere. It's little things like this that can make games that tad more realistic.

The actual gun play is brilliant as well. Not only do the weapons do different amounts of damage, they all feel different. There are three weapons on offer in the demo which are the handgun, the AK47 and the shotgun. They're all useful in their own ways. The shotgun is great for one-on-one action where there are too many enemies to take down with a pistol. The AK' is best for long range shots, as the bullets spread out a little to make aiming easier. And the handgun is just so versatile that it can be used for anything successfully. Not once have the shootouts got repetitive either, so all round the gunplay is a great package.

Nathan Drake is much easier to handle than, say, The Angel of Darkness, and his movements are slick and believable. There's a seamless transition between jumping, running and walking too, so in comparison to Lara he is the overall winner when it comes to handling and looks. That is, unless you're one for the videogame porn.

Another thing that can make or break a game is linearity. Games like Folklore, which got mixed reviews, often commenting on its tunnel vision style of gameplay, benefited from it, and the same goes for GTA and its sandbox style of play. Uncharted benefits from both. The game doesn't hold your hand, and there's usually two or three ways of going about it. Like, for example, climbing up onto a ledge to shoot from a higher level, rather than smashing open a gate to go in from the lower ground.

That's basically it, all in all it looks like being a fantastic shooter that mixes elements from Tomb Raider and the Crash Bandicoot series to make a genuinely fun game that always keeps you on your toes. Stay tuned to TGSN for all the Uncharted news - if you want a closer look at the aesthetics of the game, dive into our aesthetics preview and of course, the final hands-on come November 23rd.

- Tyler Roberts


Sony CE
Naughty Dog