Uncharted: Drake's Fortune


Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Uncharted Drake's Fortune.jpg
North American box art
Developer(s) Naughty Dog
Publisher(s) Sony Computer Entertainment
Designer(s) Elodie Hummel & Yeon Kyung Kim & Ivan Glaze (Producer)
Amy Hennig (Director)
Hirokazu Yasuhara (Game Designer)
Christopher Christensen (Programmer)
Mark Cerny (Additional Game Designer & Programmer)
Artist(s) Bob Rafei & Bruce Straley (Art Directors)
Richard Diamant (Lead Character Artist)
Ricardo Ariza & Tyler Breon (Character Artist)
Writer(s) Amy Hennig
Composer(s) Greg Edmonson
Series Uncharted
Engine Naughty Dog Game Engine Proprietary[1]
Version 1.01
Platform(s) PlayStation 3
Release date(s)
  • NA November 16, 2007[2]
  • JP December 6, 2007
  • AUS December 6, 2007
  • EU December 7, 2007
Genre(s) Action-adventure, Platform, Third-person shooter
Mode(s) Single-player
Rating(s)

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is an action-adventure platform third-person shooter video game developed by Naughty Dog, and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for PlayStation 3. Combining platforming and third-person shooter elements, the game charts the journey of protagonist Nathan Drake, supposed descendant of the explorer Francis Drake, as he seeks the lost treasure of El Dorado, with the help of friend Victor "Sully" Sullivan and journalist Elena Fisher.[3]

Originally announced at E3 2006,[4] the title was developed for about two years before being released at the end of 2007.[5] Seen as a key title for the PlayStation 3 during the holiday season of 2007,[6] the game was well-received by critics, many of whom cited its technical achievements and its high production values, similar to that of summer blockbuster films.[3] The game went on to sell more than one million copies in ten weeks, and become part of the European best-selling Platinum Range of titles.[7] A sequel titled Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, was released in 2009 and a third entry to the series, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, was released in 2011.

Contents

Gameplay

During combat, the player as Nate (left) can use corners and walls as cover, then use blind or aimed fire from cover against his opponents.

Gameplay in Uncharted is a combination of 3D platforming and third-person shooter gameplay elements. Platforming elements allow Nate to jump, swim, grab and move along ledges, climb and swing from ropes, and perform other acrobatic actions that allow players to make their way along the ruins in the various areas of the island that Drake explores.[8]

When facing enemies, the player can either use melee and combo attacks at close range to take out foes or can opt to use weapons.[8] Melee attacks comprise a variety of single punches, while combo attacks are activated through specific sequences of button presses that, when timed correctly, offer much greater damage; the most damaging of these is the specific "brutal combo", which forces enemies to drop twice the ammunition they would normally leave.[8] Nate can only carry one pistol and one rifle at a time, and there is a limited amount of ammunition per gun. Picking up a different firearm switches that weapon for the new one. Grenades are also available at certain points, and the height of the aiming arc is adjusted by tilting the Sixaxis controller up or down. These third-person shooter elements were compared by several reviewers to Gears of War,[3][8] in that the player can have Drake take cover behind walls, and use either blind fire or aimed fire to kill enemies. In common with the aforementioned game, Uncharted lacks an actual on-screen health bar; instead, when the player takes damage, the graphics begin to lose color. While resting or taking cover for a brief period, Drake's health level, indicated by the screen color, returns to normal.[8]

The game also includes vehicle sections, where Drake must protect the jeep he and Elena are in using a mounted turret, and where Drake and Elena ride a jet ski along water-filled routes while avoiding enemy fire and explosive barrels. While players direct Drake in driving the jet ski, they may also switch to Elena by aiming the gun in order to use her weapon — either the grenade launcher or the Beretta, depending on the chapter — in defense, or to clear the barrels from their path.[8]

The game also features reward points, which can be gained by collecting 60 hidden treasures in the game that glimmer momentarily[6] or by completing certain accomplishments, such as achieving a number of kills using a specific weapon, performing a number of headshots, or using specific methods of killing enemies.[9] In subsequent playthroughs of the game, the player can use these rewards points to unlock special options; these include in-game bonuses such as alternate costumes and unlimited ammunition[6] but also non-game extras, such as making-of videos and concept art.[10] There are also several references to other Naughty Dog games, especially the Jak and Daxter series; this is done through the "Ottsel" branding on Drake and Fisher's wetsuits,[11] a reference to the species that mixes otter and weasel found in the game, and the strange relic found in one of the earlier chapters, which is actually a precursor orb from the same series.

The game is censored when playing on a Japanese console to remove blood, which normally appears when shooting enemies; this follows the trend of other censored console games in the region, such as Dead Rising and Resistance: Fall of Man.[12]

Plot

The game opens with Nathan "Nate" Drake (voiced by Nolan North[13]) recovering the coffin of Elizabethan explorer Sir Francis Drake from the ocean floor. Nate claims to be a descendant of Sir Francis, and has inherited a ring with the coordinates of the expedition inscribed on it. The expedition is funded by journalist Elena Fisher (Emily Rose[13]), who is there to record the events for a documentary. When they open the coffin, however, they find out that it is empty except for a diary written by Sir Francis, showing that Sir Francis faked his death as Nate has always suspected. A band of pirates who have been tracking Nate then suddenly appear and destroy their boat, but the pair are rescued by Nate's partner Victor "Sully" Sullivan (Richard McGonagle[13]).

After returning to shore, Nate and Sully study the diary and uncover information that points to the location of El Dorado, the fabled city of gold, in the Amazon. Fearing that Elena's publishing the documentary would attract rivals, Sully and Nate decide to ditch Elena in the dock and travel to the Amazon on their own. They find the ruins of an ancient South American civilization, and clues that El Dorado is in fact a large gold statue instead of a golden city, and that it has been removed by the Spaniards long ago. Searching further, Nate and Sully discover a long-abandoned German U-boat stuck in the Amazon river containing its dead crew, who appear to have been mauled to death, Spanish gold coins with an unknown mint stamp, and a missing page from Sir Francis Drake's diary that points to a southern tropic island where the Spaniards have likely taken the statue.

Before they can leave the Amazon, Nate and Sully are accosted by Gabriel Roman (Simon Templeman[13]), a competitive treasure hunter who has hired the services of mercenaries led by Atoq Navarro (Robin Atkin Downes[13]), Roman's lieutenant and an archaeologist with knowledge of the statue. The two learned about Nate's quest to find El Dorado when Sully, who owes Roman money, divulged to them earlier that he was onto something. Nate refuses to help Roman, who then shoots Sully in the chest. As Nate struggles with Navarro, the U-boat explodes from a torpedo Nate accidentally armed earlier. Nate uses the chaos to escape into the forest, and is subsequently rescued by Elena. The two then fly off in Sully's plane to the Pacific Island shown on the missing page of Sir Francis' diary.

As their plane approaches the island of UK 2642 it is shot down and the two become separated. Nate works his way to a fort where he spots Elena's parachute, but he is unable to find her. He continues into the fort, where he finds a message from Sir Francis stating that he had gone to the fort's tower. Upon arriving there, he is captured by the pirates from the beginning of the game, who are revealed to be led by Eddy Raja (James Sie[13]), an old rival of his. Eddy demands that Nate assist him in finding the treasure, but Nate manages to escape with the help of Elena. The two work their way through a long-abandoned port city and discover, through a log book in its custom house, that the statue was moved further inland. Elena then spots the supposedly dead Sully working with Roman and Navarro, heading north, and the pair decides to follow him to the monastery. While heading there, Elena is forced to drop her camera to save herself. There, they locate hidden passages and rescue Sully, who survived Roman's shot earlier thanks to Drake's diary blocking the bullet, and decided to play along with his captors.

Nate and Elena find a series of maze-like passages below the monastery. In these tunnels, Nate overhears an argument between Roman, Navarro, and Eddy, who has also been hired by Roman to aid in the capture of Nate and in the security of the island. Roman doubts Eddy's abilities to do his job further and ignores his superstitious claim that something cursed on the island is killing his men. Roman dismisses Eddy and his crew, angering Eddy, who draws his gun but is stopped by Navarro. Eddy storms off, cursing.

Traveling through more of the underground tunnels, Nate and Elena find a passage leading to an empty treasure vault in which they find Sir Francis Drake's body, who appears to have died on the island in a vain effort searching for the treasure. Seeing the seemingly fruitless quest of Sir Francis, a saddened Nate leaves his ring behind on Drake's body. Before they move on, they encounter Eddy running for his life, chased by mutated humans possessing incredible speed and strength. Nate and Eddy work together briefly to fight off the creatures, but Eddy is later dragged into a hole by one of the monsters after being bitten on the throat and killed. Nate and Elena escape to an abandoned German submarine base, but in order to move on Nate has to venture out to the generator room to restore the power.

During his exploration, he discovers that the Germans had sought the statue during World War II but they, like the Spaniards before them, learned that the statue was cursed and became mutated; Nate realizes the creatures attacking them are the descendants of the mutated Germans and Spaniards. Sir Francis, having discovered the statue's true power, was actually trying to keep it on the island, and that he managed to destroy any way for the statue to be transported off the island before he too was killed by the mutants.

Nate attempts to return to Elena, but finds she has been taken hostage by Roman and Navarro. As Nate follows them, he reunites with Sully outside the monastery. Fighting through Roman's forces, Nate and Sully eventually reach Roman, who has located the statue. As they arrive, they are captured at gunpoint by Roman's mercenaries. Watching, with the statue of El Dorado now before them, Navarro urges Roman to open the statue, but as soon as he does, Roman inhales the mutagenic dust from a mummy rotting within and begins to mutate into the same type of creature the Germans and Spaniards were turned into many years ago. The transformed Roman charges at Navarro but is shot and killed. Planning all along to steal the statue and sell the mutagen as a weapon to the highest bidder, Navarro has the statue lifted out by a helicopter and takes a captive Elena as well while his mercenaries are attacked by the mutants. Nate manages to jump onto the net the statue is in just before the helicopter has left. As Elena struggles vigorously inside the helicopter, the gunman, who has noticed Nate and is about to shoot him, is kicked out of the helicopter. As the gunman is falling out, he begins firing his M4, inadvertantly killing the pilot, and sending the helicopter (and Nate) to crash land onto Roman's freighter.

A final showdown breaks out between Nate and Navarro and his mercenaries, with Nate, after a few gunfights with Navarro's mercenaries, prevailing over Navarro in a fistfight, knocking him unconscious. As Nate goes to the crashed helicopter and tends to the injured Elena lying inside, Navarro regains consciousness and prepares to kill them both with his shotgun. Elena warns Nate, who pushes the helicopter off the tanker. Navarro's foot gets tangled up with the rope that ties the statue to the helicopter, and the falling helicopter drags both Navarro and the statue into the ocean.

Elena returns the ring that Nate left behind earlier and the two lean in to kiss, but they are interrupted by Sully, who has escaped the island on a small speedboat, taking several boxes of treasure from a few dead pirates with him. Elena reminds Nate that because she has lost her camera, he still owes her a story. As the boat sails towards the horizon, Nate assures her "I'm good for it."

Development

After completing Jak 3, Naughty Dog assembled their most technically-talented staff members and began development of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune under the codename Big.[14][15] It was in full production for about two years, with a small team of engineers working on the game for about a year before hand.[5] Naughty Dog decided to create a brand new IP rather than opt to develop a PlayStation 3 Jak and Daxter game—they wanted to create a franchise suitable for the new hardware, in order to develop such ideas as realistic human characters instead of stylized ones owing to limitations of previous hardware, as well as create something "fresh and interesting", although termed as 'stylized realism'.[5] Inspiration was drawn from various sources in the action and adventure genres: pulp magazines, movie serials, and more contemporary titles like Indiana Jones and National Treasure.[16] The team felt the sources shared themes of mystery and "what-if scenarios" that romanticized adventure and aimed to include those in Uncharted.[14]

A platforming segment, showing Nathan attempting to scale the outer walls of the Fortress.

The game was first unveiled at E3 2006.[4] From early previews of the game, inevitable comparisons of elements such as platforming and shooting between Uncharted and the well-known Tomb Raider series were drawn, earning the title the nickname of "Dude Raider".[16][17] However, the developers saw their game as concentrating more on third-person cover-based play, in contrast to Tomb Raider's "auto-aiming" play and greater puzzle-solving elements.[5] Throughout the game's development the staff tried to remain flexible and detached from the original design concepts; attention was focused on the features that worked well, while features that did not work were removed.[18] The development team intended the game's main setting, the island, to play a big role in the overall experience. Feeling too many games used bleak, dark settings with monochromatic color schemes, they wanted the island to be a vibrant, believable game world that immersed the player and encouraged exploration.[14]

In designing the characters, the artists aimed for a style that was photorealistic.[16] The creators envisaged the main protagonist, Nathan Drake, as more of an everyman character than Lara Croft, shown as clearly under stress in the game's many fire fights, with no special training and constantly living at the edge of his abilities.[5][17] Director Amy Hennig felt a heavily-armored, "tough as nails" protagonist with a large weapon was not a suitable hero, and decided a "tenacious and resourceful" character would portray more human qualities. Supporting characters (Victor Sullivan and Elena Fisher) were included to avoid a dry and emotionless story.[16] Fisher's character underwent changes during development; in early trailers for the game, the character had dark brown hair, but ultimately the color changed to blonde and the style was altered.[19][20]

The game went gold in the middle of October 2007.[5] A demo was then released on November 8, 2007 on the PlayStation Network[21] before its final release on November 19 in North America. The demo was first placed on the North American store, and was initially region-locked such that it would only play on a North American PS3.[22] However, this was later confirmed as a mistake, as the developers were apparently unaware that people from different regions could sign up for a North American account and download the demo; a region-free demo was released soon after.[23]

Graphics and technology

Uncharted uses the Cell microprocessor to generate dozens of layered character animations to portray realistic expressions and fluid movements, which allow for responsive player control.[24] The PlayStation 3's graphics processing unit, the RSX Reality Synthesizer, employed several functions to provide graphical details that helped immerse the player into the game world: lighting models, pixel shaders, dynamic real-time shadowing, and advanced water simulation.[24] The new hardware allowed for processes which the team had never used in PlayStation 2 game development and required them to quickly familiarize with the new techniques; for example, parallel processing and pixel shaders. While Blu-ray afforded greater storage space, the team became concerned with running out of room several times—Uncharted used more and bigger textures than previous games, and included several languages on the disc.[25] Gameplay elements requiring motion sensing, such as throwing grenades and walking across beams, were implemented to take advantage of the Sixaxis controller.[14] A new PlayStation 3 controller, the DualShock 3, was unveiled at the 2007 Tokyo Game Show, and featured force feedback vibration. Uncharted was also on display at the show with demonstrations that implemented limited support for vibration.[26]

Being Naughty Dog's first PlayStation 3 game, the project required the company to familiarize themselves with the new hardware, and resulted in several development mistakes.[25] The switch from developing for the PlayStation 2 to the PlayStation 3 prompted the staff to implement changes to their development technology. Naughty Dog switched to the industry standard language C++ in order to participate in technology sharing among Sony's first-party developers—the company had previously used their own proprietary programming language GOAL, a Lisp-based language. In rewriting their game code, they decided to create new programming tools as well. This switch, however, delayed the team's progress in developing a prototype, as the new tools proved to be unreliable and too difficult to use. Ten months into full production, the team decided to recreate the game's pipeline, the chain of processing elements designed to progress data through a system. In retrospect, Naughty Dog's Co-President Evan Wells considered this the greatest improvement to the project.[18] Additionally, the animation blending system was rewritten several times to obtain the desired character animations.[14]

Trophies integration

The game was patched on August 4, 2008 in Europe and North America to version 1.01 to include support for the PlayStation 3's Trophy system.[27] There are forty-seven trophies in the game that match the medals that can already be won in the game and one further trophy, the Platinum trophy, awarded when all other trophies have been collected; Uncharted was the first PlayStation 3 game to include the Platinum trophy type.[28] Similar to other PlayStation 3 titles that receive trophy support via downloaded patches, players must start a new save game to be awarded trophies, regardless of how many medals they received in previous playthroughs. This was enforced because the developers wanted to avoid the sharing of save data in order to gain trophies they did not earn.[29] The patch was described as "incredibly easy" to implement, owing to the game already containing preliminary support for Trophies via its Medals system; it was also stated that these hooks were already included due to Naughty Dog's belief that Sony would roll out the Trophy system before the game's launch in November 2007.[29] Despite mentioning that the game was developed as a franchise and that it lent itself to episodic content,[5] it was later stated that no content available via download would be made for Uncharted.[30]

Future titles

Shortly after the release of the game, Naughty Dog's co-president, Evan Wells, stated that Uncharted had been developed as a franchise, and so a sequel was likely.[31][32] It was later confirmed that the development team had put their work on the next installment of Jak and Daxter on-hold to work on Uncharted 2 for release in 2009.[33] This sequel was revealed to be entitled Uncharted 2: Among Thieves in December, 2008 by Game Informer.[34]

Film adaptation

Film producer Avi Arad has stated that he is working with a division of Sony to develop the film adaptation of Uncharted.[35] In response to a question posed to Richard Lemarchand, lead game designer of Naughty Dog, on whether he would like to see a film adaptation of Uncharted, he replied "no comment.".[36]

Since then, Columbia Pictures has confirmed that an Uncharted film is being developed. It is to be produced by Avi Arad, Charles Roven and Alex Gartner.[37] As of June 30, 2009, it was confirmed that the Uncharted film has been in development for the last year-and-a-half.[38] On October 8, 2010, it was revealed by Columbia Pictures that David O. Russell will be writing and directing the film.[39] On May 26, 2011 it was reported that Russell had left the project.[40]. In July 2011 it was reported that Neil Burger, director of Limitless would direct the film adaption.

PlayStation Home

During the Closed Beta of PlayStation Home on October 11, 2008, Naughty Dog released an Uncharted themed game space for PlayStation Home. This space is "Sully's Bar" from the game. In this space user's can play an arcade mini-game called "Mercenary Madness", which during the Closed Beta, there were rewards. The rewards were removed with the release of the Home Open Beta. There are also three other rooms in this space, in which during the Closed Beta, users had to find out codes to the doors that accessed these rooms. The code entry to the rooms was also removed with the release of the Home Open Beta. The three other rooms are the "Artifact Room", "Archives", and "Smuggler's Den". There is an artifact viewer in the Archives and Smuggler's Den rooms. Also in the Archives there is a video screen that previews Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. The Artifact Room only features seating and different artifacts for users to look at. This space was one of the first five game spaces of the PlayStation Home Open Beta in North America, which Home went Open Beta on December 11, 2008.[41] This space was released to the European version on November 5, 2009, almost a year after the Open Beta release. Naughty Dog has also released a game space for Uncharted's sequel on October 23, 2009 making Uncharted the first game series to have a game space for both games in its series.

Reception

 Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 89.70%[42]
Metacritic 88/100[43]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com 8.5/10[8]
Famitsu 36/40[44]
Game Informer 8.75/10[3]
GamePro 4.25/5[45]
GameSpot 8.0/10[10]
GameSpy 4.5/5[9]
IGN 9.1/10[6]
Awards
Entity Award
IGN Best Action Game (2007), PS3 Game of the Year (2007), Best Graphics Technology (PS3 2007), Best Original Score (PS3 2007)[46]

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was well-received by game critics.[42][43][47] Game Informer complimented the visuals and dialogue between the characters Drake and Fisher, calling them stunning and entertaining respectively.[20] They further added that the production values appeared high, citing the level of detail and musical score.[48] PlayStation Magazine echoed similar statements about the visuals and compared them to that of Crysis.[14][49]

The overall presentation of the game received unanimous praise from critics, who recognized the game's high production values, describing them as "top-notch",[50] "incredible"[10] or comparing them to those found in Hollywood.[9] When combined with the overall style of the game, this led many reviewers to compare Uncharted to summer blockbuster films,[3][51][52] with the action and theme of the game drawing comparisons to the Indiana Jones film series.[10][51] As part of the presentation, the game's story and atmosphere were also received well.[3][51] The depth of the characters was praised, each having "their own tone".[51] The voice acting was also received well, as the cast "nails its characterizations"; overall, the voice acting was described as a "big-star performance",[9] "superb"[52] and "stellar".[3]

The technical achievements in creating this presentation were also lauded. The graphics and visuals were a big part of this, including appreciation of the "lush" jungle environments,[3][8][10] with lighting effects greatly adding to them.[52] The game's water effects were also appreciated.[50] Overall, many reviewers commented that, at the time, it was one of the best-looking PlayStation 3 games available.[45] Further to the graphical aspects, both facial animation and the animation of characters,[11][52] such as Nate's "fluid" animations as he performs platforming sections were noted,[3] although the wilder animations of enemies reacting to being shot were over-animated "to perhaps a laughable degree".[8]

Criticism of the game included some graphical issues, such as texture pop-in and screen tearing.[6][9] Of more concern were gameplay issues, including overall gameplay length being rather short, with reviewers completing the game in anywhere from six to ten hours,[50][52] and some disappointment with the "not particularly memorable" vehicle sections;[8] the inability to both aim weapons and drive the jet-ski was a well-noted issue.[3][50] Further, some "frustrating, repetitive slogs"[50] with regards to the "constant stream" of pirates and mercenaries,[6] and "moving from one infuriating firefight to the next"[10] towards the end of the game were cited as part of poorer elements of overall gameplay.

Awards

Uncharted received several accolades from web review sites such as Kotaku and IGN, who named it their PlayStation 3 game of the year.[46][53] The game went on to sell one million copies after its first ten weeks of retail,[54] and later became one of the first batch of titles to be released as part of Europe's budget Platinum range of best-selling titles.[7]

Sales

Sony announced at E3 2009 that Uncharted: Drake's Fortune has sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide and was a hit for the PlayStation 3.[55][56] Game designer Tim Schafer, well-known as the creator of the early Lucas Arts adventure games such as The Secret of Monkey Island, has also lauded the game, saying he "liked it a lot", and jokingly thanked it for teaching him a new fashion tip (Nathan Drake's "half-tucked" shirt).[57]

See also

Gamepad.svg Video games portal

References

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