Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PlayStation 3) Review

By Thom Compton 13.12.2017

Review for Uncharted: Drake

It's time to strap on some cargo pants, a one-size-too-small sweater, and some hiking boots, because we're going on an adventure. It's been 10 years since Nathan Fillion... Oh, sorry, Nathan Drake first showed up on the gamingverse's radar. Aboard a small boat in the Caribbean Sea, Nathan discovers the clue he's been looking for. From there, he boards a plane with his companion Elena Fisher, and begins an adventure that has spawned plenty of sequels. However, after all these years, is it the ancient treasure we've been looking for?

As would probably be expected, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is "pretty for the time." This isn't to say it's unattractive, just that it's a gorgeous game that's been beaten time and time again in the realism department. In its defence, it's mostly been beaten by its own sequels (if you need any proof of this, play the first 15 minutes of A Thief's End), but it still holds up very well.

As does its audio, as this game still manages to sound as slick as it did a decade ago. Nolan North and Emily Rose play Nathan and Elena, and in case you didn't know, they are fantastic. This can be said about Richard McGongle's Victor Sullivan, or Sully, as well. These characters are now iconic video game protagonists, and the performances have a tremendous amount to do with that.

It's not just the voice acting, though. The audio mixing is fantastic, making sure gunfights never sound too loud, and the softer moments of dialogue play out with all the appropriate echoing of voices in a cavern or the screams between the chopping sounds of the helicopter blade. Really, the mixing is fantastic, and despite its Hollywood level of production, Uncharted manages to escape many of the mistakes Hollywood is known for. Sadly, it does occasionally feature music that, while being brilliant and almost John Williams-esque, requires you to grab the remote and lower the decibel output a bit.

Screenshot for Uncharted: Drake's Fortune on PlayStation 3

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is a cinematic affair, and one of the first games on the PS3 to really aim to be bigger than just a game. Gunfights, exploration, platforming, light parkour and free running, and cutscenes Spielberg should be jealous of, Naughty Dog's premier PS3 title was as much Michael Bay summer blockbuster as it was video game. Unfortunately, this could explain why the video game portion was so very uneven.

Before we begin tearing down the monument of Naughty Dog's triumph, let's cover some of the positives, and let's be honest. The Uncharted series is really good gaming, so to say the first one is the weakest of the main series isn't to say Naughty Dog is a terrible and overrated company. This was new for them, essentially mixing all the lessons they had learned from Crash Bandicoot and the Jak and Daxter titles to create something more cinematic; it's obviously going to have some hiccups.

First of all, the gunplay is fantastic. Being able to lock into cover, peak out, and almost effortlessly aim the gun towards your intended prey felt fluid even then. Even better was the options available when it came to what kinds of weapons you had. This wasn't as simple as "one gun is stronger than another gun;" each gun feels different. One fires rounds at breakneck speed, though enemies can absorb them better. Another fires much more slowly, but manages to slay enemies in one shot, as long as you aren't very far from them. Loadouts actually mattered, and for the time, that was impressive given the large scale of options you had available from opening to closing credits. The only option that feels wasted are the hand grenades, and that's just because of the awful way in which the mechanic works. Sure, Naughty Dog wanted to show off the Sixaxis Controller, but did they not notice it was awful using it to aim?

Screenshot for Uncharted: Drake's Fortune on PlayStation 3

Beyond the serenity of the gunfights was the exploration. After slowly (gunfights are also very strategic, requiring proper utilization of cover fire, weapon choice, and knowing when to take your shots) picking apart the enemies in a room, there's treasure to look for. This treasure is the very epitome of collectibles, and as this is not an open world title, things are easily missable. However, it does a good job of further adding to the atmosphere.

This is in conjunction with the puzzles. Picture it: Drake and Sully saunter into the belly of a ruin, only to have to decipher an ancient puzzle from the text of Sir Francis Drake's diary. It's fun to have these little cerebral breaks, though it's annoying having to switch back and forth to the diary to further inspect how to reach the proper solution. Perhaps if they'd been a bit more fluid, they would feel a bit more enjoyable to solve.

It's at this point we part ways with the good, and start to hold up a more objective magnifying glass. For all it does well, Nathan Drake's freshman outing does some things abhorrently bad. These can summarized in just a few words: enemy placement, final boss, and platforming. Let's start with enemy placement.

As a third-person shooter, it's important that enemies are able to surprise you, and for the most part, Uncharted seems to grasp that well. However, it features far too many corridor fights in non-corridor locations. One fight, towards the end of the game, has enemies barrelling down on you from around a corner. Now, you could jump down from the slightly elevated surface you're on, but that would be silly. Just assassinate the enemy from the safety of that elevation while enemies run into the room like water from the tap.

Screenshot for Uncharted: Drake's Fortune on PlayStation 3

This is probably the easiest one to overlook, though. Enemy placement does, somewhat frequently, involve managing Drake's position amongst enemies when they can funnel towards him from multiple directions - or worse: multiple elevations. Sadly, this makes the funnelled enemy encounters seem less than. When so many of the fights feel so strategic and thoughtful, being able to just pop off rounds as enemies run right at you is annoying.

The final boss (the only boss, really) is ridiculously anticlimactic. The waves of enemies faced before him are actually pretty fun, though many of them fall into that funnelled feel. However, once Drake has to pick off enemies amongst shipping containers, it does get pretty exciting, and honestly, pretty difficult. That's why the last fight just feels wasted. Time your approach, and then QTE, baby! The strategy is minimal, and the overly cinematic nature of the whole ordeal feels more like an insult than a bonus. Yes, if you take all of these elements of the final confrontation as one giant final boss, it seems pretty impressive. It also feels like it's really no different than any other gunfight in the game.

The platforming is, at least for its time, innovative. Remember, Uncharted came out around the same time as Assassin's Creed, the other free runner innovator. The problem with Drake's Fortune's take on free running is that it feels so sloppy. Nathan sticks to surfaces too easy. Scaling walls too often results in jumping and missing your mark because...well, that's the thing. It's really hard to tell why. Did Nathan not see the notch in the wall you clearly aimed him at? Also, there's a couple of sections on a Waverunner that manage to make jet skiing feel like riding a Rascal through a nursing home the day Mrs. O'Leary's grandchildren came to visit. Don't bump into them, now; they'll explode.

Screenshot for Uncharted: Drake's Fortune on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


There's no doubt that Nathan Drake's world premiere in Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is an important title that spawned a series that changed gaming forever. This does not change the fact that it's the weakest of the main titles, and hasn't aged particularly well. For someone playing Among Thieves or Drake's Deception before this one, it's kind of jarring going back to the title where Naughty Dog was "figuring it out." It's still an important game to play, and you may even find yourself having a good time. Sadly, it's hard to believe that if it were released today, it wouldn't be called a pale imitation of the games that came after it.


Naughty Dog




Action Adventure



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Comments are currently disabled

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?

There are 1 members online at the moment.