Naughty Dog had already made a name for itself in the video game world with beloved series like Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter. In 2007, Naughty Dog would find gold again with a new series on the PlayStation 3. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was launched in 2007, developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, the game followed treasure hunter Nathan Drake as he seeks to find the elusive city of El Dorado.
Our hero of Uncharted is Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter, and adventurer who claims to be the descendent of famed world traveler Sir Francis Drake. Nathan is probably in his early 30s and has partnered up with his mentor Victor “Sully” Sullivan who has a knack for finding lost treasure. The game opens up with Nathan, and a tv documentary reporter named Elena on a boat as Nathan is diving in the ocean searching for remnants of Sir Francis Drake.
Drake finds a coffin and brings it up to the boat where he discovers a diary that details the location of El Dorado. When Drake gets aboard the boat he and Elena are attacked by modern-day pirates before Sully rescues them. Drake and Sully continue to follow the clues to El Dorado and discover that it’s not a city, but a golden statue likely worth millions. With Drake and Sully on a tropical island searching for clues, they run into mercenaries with who they have a history. These mercenaries named Roman and Navarro shoot Sully in the chest as Drake runs away. As he hides from the mercenaries Drake runs into Elena who had secretly followed them to the island. With Elena’s help, Drake escapes from the island.
As the pair head to another island to search for El Dorado they are shot down and separated. Drake decides to explore the island while searching for Elena. He finds an ancient fortress currently occupied by mercenaries who are holding Elena captive. The pair escape the fort but find evidence that El Dorado is indeed on the island. They also find Sully who was saved from the bullet by a booklet in his pocket and is bargaining his life for information that he is falsely giving to the mercenaries. Drake and Elena rescue him before heading inland.
They discover a secret treasure vault that holds the body of Sir Francis Drake and a horde of mutated humans (think of the monsters from the movie “The Descent”) who start to attack them and the mercenaries on the island. Drake discovers that the statue of El Dorado turns people into these mutants and is a cursed treasure. Roman and Navarro are closing in on the statue of El Dorado but Roman opens it and the curse turns him into a mutant. Navarro still plans to take the statue and sell it as a biological weapon until Drake fights Navarro defeating him and sending the statue to the bottom of the ocean. Sully, Elena, and Drake are seen leaving the island with treasures in hand as the game ends.
My favorite element to any Uncharted game is the atmosphere and environments. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune kicks off the series in a beautiful fashion, especially for being one of the earliest games on the PS3. The islands you explore are full of detail whether it’s the lush plants, winding streams of water, or the cracked earth and rocks that look like they could come tumbling down any moment.
As for the gameplay, you’ll control Drake in a third-person view as you make your way through chapters. During almost every chapter you’ll have gunfights with pirates, mercenaries, or the mutated humans. You’ll have your options of pistols, machine guns, shotguns, revolvers, and grenade pistol. Killing enemies will result in them dropping some ammo for you to pick up and you’ll need to constantly collect because you go through ammo quick with the number of bad guys that are after Drake. One of my biggest frustrations in Uncharted is the realism that is presented in the game. Drake can perform some unbelievable feats like moving thousand-pound boulders or climbing up mountains by his fingertips. Now, I know it’s a video game but it’s just a little nitpick of mine. The other complaint I had I’m going to retract because I spoke to a friend about it and he educated me on why it appears that way. I’m talking about the sheer number of bullets it takes to kill Drake. When Drake is in the heat of war it seems like he can take six or seven bullets to the chest and keep on chugging along. He isn’t wearing body armor so what is keeping him alive? Well, my friend explained to me that Drake is naturally very lucky. When you are in danger of dying, the screen starts to turn black and white signaling to you that you’ll need to find shelter for Drake to hide behind and recover. So how does Drake survive all these bullets? He doesn’t. He actually isn’t getting hit by the bullets, but the bullets are coming extremely close to hitting him. When the screen turns black and white, it’s signaling that Drake’s luck is about to run out and when he dies, it’s actually the first time a bullet hits him. This all makes perfect sense and I accept my friend’s theory on it. In fact, I like it!
When you aren’t killing, you’ll be searching for treasure and solving puzzles. It’s a good mix up of gameplay and keeps the game fresh. There are small treasures that you can find that are hidden within the environment in bushes, rocks, or broken objects. When you pick up the treasure you’ll be able to investigate it further and there will be a little blurb about it. To progress through environments, Drake will have to solve puzzles or find a way to continue the path. There will be times when you’ll have to figure out how to move the boulder or swing a rope across a gap. Most puzzles you can figure out quickly and shouldn’t struggle with them.
I liked the cast of characters and thought they were believable for an adventure game. Drake doesn’t take himself or life too seriously and Elena while she may seem pushy is the cute girl next door. I thought for sure that Sully would betray Drake at some point during the game but I was wrong and he turns out to be a cool old dude.
My friend who I worked at the hospital with was really into the Uncharted series when we worked together. We had a friendly rivalry and he always talked about how great the Uncharted series was and how it was the best ever. I on the other hand was a huge Metal Gear Solid fan and talked up the series as the best in video games. Eventually, we each played the other series and we were both happy that we did it. I enjoyed Uncharted but probably not as much as the average gamer. I’ve beat it several times since it came out and it’s still good for a fun weekend but I wouldn’t claim it’s the best video game series ever.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune gets the series going in the right direction and begins the foundation for memorable characters. The combat introduced would get better as the series progressed but for an early PS3 release it’s a solid game to experience.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune scores a 7.9 out of 10.
Do you remember when Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune first came out? What did you think of the story and cast of characters? Did you have any issues with the combat? Did you hunt treasure? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments!
If you’d like to own a copy of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, you can purchase a used copy of it for PS3 from eBay for around $10.