Would Tomb Raider have ever been so popular if it didn’t have Lara Croft’s ample bosom?
Uncharted is the latest in a long line of games that’s attempted to find out. Starring an apparent descendent of that legendary explorer Sir Francis Drake, Nathan Drake, this is as close as the PS3 gets to the Lara endorsed classic.
With a huge island to explore, and masses of gunplay to enjoy, this one sure has all the right ingredients to be a sure fire classic. Who doesn’t want to play as the video game equivalent of Indiana Jones? Only there’s a lack of Nazi’s in this one. Thankfully.
Combining running, jumping, exploring, and bloody battle was always going to be tricky. But Uncharted manages every little bit with the kind of brilliance that only comes along every few years.
Take the graphics as the first example. Though the initial scene aboard Drake’s hired boat doesn’t exactly wow, as soon as you’re on the game's main island your jaw will regularly be heard striking the floor.
Out in the open, the jungle landscape is nothing short of stunning. It just feels incredibly full and luscious. Plants sway in the breeze, and the incredible level of detail, especially when viewed via a HD screen, is an absolute joy to behold.
Nathan himself, while lacking Lara’s astonishing cleavage, isn’t any less good looking. Instead of going for some gaudy outfit, he’s simply clad in jeans and a scruffy t-shirt, giving him the kind of look you’d actually expect an epic explorer to possess. I mean, who really sets off halfway around the world to explore in a pair of hot pants?
But it’s the way he moves that’ll really excite you. No, not in that way. As you run and jump around the many areas you’re expected to explore, you’ll notice the absolute fluidity with which Drake reacts to his surroundings. There’s no jarring short steps needed to line up a jump with absolute perfection like Lara greeted us with all those years ago.
Instead, you simply run to the edge, press the jump button, and the game will manoeuvre Drake into the best position to make the leap. Leaving you with simply getting on with planning your route to your next objective, and not worrying about nudging Drake an extra inch towards the end of a cliff in order to make the next leap. Drake will scramble for edges of ledges, and clutch at vines in such a manner that makes the animation of just about every other game look archaic.
As fun as all this exploring is – and you’ll certainly do a lot of it during the game's 12 hour lifespan – it’s not the only major plus point. The puzzles thankfully refuse to descend into the kind of colour coded key ideas that gaming has always been about. Instead, you’ll use Drake’s diary that you discover at the start of the game to give hints as to how to progress. Sadly the puzzles are a little thin on the ground, though most are cracking examples of brain bending goodness.
The developers have taken a leaf out of Gears of Wars’ book for the combat. Cover features heavily, with only a few shots needed to drain Drake of his life. Your enemies are all filled to the brim with devilish deviance, with none of them eager to lose their lives in a swift manner. They’ll happily hop from cover to cover and attempt to sneak a few pot shots at you when you’re not looking. They want this treasure too after all.
We’ve not even mentioned the story either. While you’d expect a cliché filled bore-a-thon, Uncharted packs one of the most thrilling and exciting story-based journeys modern gaming has seen. The latter stages take a bit of a strange twist, but nothing ever descends into anything other than top quality.
Finally, the PS3 has a stunning exclusive that’s worth picking up a console for all on its own.