Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is a 2007 action-adventure platform video game developed by Naughty Dog, and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for PlayStation 3. It is the first game in the Uncharted series. Combining action-adventure and platforming elements with a third-person perspective, the game charts the journey of protagonist Nathan Drake, supposed descendant of the explorer Sir Francis Drake, as he seeks the lost treasure of El Dorado, with the help of journalist Elena Fisher and mentor Victor Sullivan.
|Uncharted: Drake's Fortune|
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
Originally announced at E3 2006, the title was developed for about two years before being released at the end of 2007. Seen as a key title for the PlayStation 3 during the holiday season of 2007, the game was well-received by critics, many of whom cited its technical achievements, voice acting, characters, story, atmosphere, musical score, attention to detail and its high production values, similar to that of summer blockbuster films, though the graphical issues, length, vehicle sections and marked difficulty were less well received. 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. A sequel titled Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was released in 2009, followed by Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception in 2011. A fourth game, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, was released on May 10, 2016 as a PlayStation 4 exclusive. Drake's Fortune was rereleased on the PlayStation 4, along with its two sequels, as part of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection.
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Off the coast of Panama, treasure hunter Nathan "Nate" Drake (Nolan North) and journalist Elena Fisher (Emily Rose) excavate the coffin of English explorer Sir Francis Drake, Nate's supposed ancestor. Instead of a body, the duo find only a small notebook, shortly before a small fleet of pirates attack their ship and set it on fire. After getting them to safety, Nate holds a private discussion with Victor "Sully" Sullivan (Richard McGonagle), his old friend and mentor. Based on clues provided by the notebook, he theorizes that Drake faked his death to cover up the discovery of El Dorado, an ancient city said to be made entirely of gold. Burdened by severe financial problems, Sully persuades him to help find the city, ditching Elena in port, as he fears that a report on the find will summon competitors.
The two follow a trail left by Drake to a temple in the Amazon (in Perú), where they learn that El Dorado is not a city, but a massive gold statue, which was taken centuries before by Spanish Conquistadors. They follow the tracks to a waterfall, where they come across an abandoned U-boat. A search of the vessel's cabins turns up some murdered Germans and a missing page from the notebook, pinpointing the statue's location in a former Spanish colony on an uncharted Pacific island, .
Once Nate emerges from the vessel, he and Sully are confronted by another treasure hunter named Gabriel Roman (Simon Templeman), to whom Sully owes a great deal of money. Backed by his partner, archaeologist Atoq Navarro (Robin Atkin Downes), Roman forces Nate to hand over the page and shoots Sully dead when he tries to intervene. Before he can kill Nate, a loose torpedo charge causes the U-boat to explode, distracting the gang long enough for Drake to escape. He runs into Elena, who agrees to help him find the statue, and together they use Sully's plane to travel to the old colony.
The plane is shot down mid-air, separating Nate from Elena when they parachute out. He tracks her to an old fort controlled by pirates led by Eddy Raja (James Sie), an old enemy of Drake's working for Roman who traps him and demands that he help him find the treasure. Elena arrives in a stolen jeep and breaks him out, but they are unable to outrun Eddy's men. Nate manages to drive the jeep over a cliff and into a lake surrounding the colony's port. Tired, injured, and grieving Sully's death, Nate decides to give up and return home. Elena convinces him to see Drake's work through, and the two work together to reach the customs house, where Nate is able to trace the statue to an inland monastery. While on reconnaissance, they discover that Roman has also found the statue with help from the supposedly-dead Sully. Nate and Elena subsequently catch up to Sully and accuse him of betrayal, to which Sully reveals that he was only pretending to help Roman, having survived his bullet because of Drake's notebook in his shirt's breast-pocket preventing a fatal wound.
Uncovering several underground catacombs, Drake scouts ahead alone. Meanwhile, Eddy, consumed by paranoia, warns Roman that an unearthly force has been killing off his men, which the former dismisses as nonsense. Nate reunites with Elena and Sully but the latter is separated from the two via a booby-trap, and Nate and Elena continue on underground. They eventually reach a chamber containing Francis Drake's corpse, with whom Nate sadly leaves the ring, believing he never found the statue. Eddy reaches Nate before a group of zombie-like creatures swarm them; in the chaos that follows, Eddy is killed. Nate and Elena escape and find themselves in an old Nazi submarine base built into the island. Looking for a way out, Nate finds a letter written by Drake exposing the truth: El Dorado is protected by a curse that turned both the Spanish colonists and the German soldiers into monsters. Drake sought to destroy it, but the creatures killed him before he was able.
Meanwhile, Elena is kidnapped by Roman, and Nate reunites with Sully and follows him to the statue. Encouraged by Navarro, Roman opens the sarcophagus, exposing himself to an airborne virus. As he begins to turn, Navarro guns him down and orders his men to secure the statue so that he can sell the virus to the highest bidder on the black market. Nate jumps onto the net carrying the treasure which is connected to the transport chopper while a captive Elena gets the pilot killed, causing it to crash on Navarro's cargo ship. Nate kills the remaining mercenaries and attempts to rescue Elena, only to be attacked by Navarro. After a fistfight, he pulls her out of the chopper and pushes it overboard, taking Navarro, whose leg is tangled in the rope connected to the net, and the statue with it to the bottom of the sea.
Moments later, Sully arrives on a small speedboat loaded with riches from the pirates. Elena surprises Nate by returning his family ring and makes him promise to give her the story she lost. The two then embrace as Sully drives the boat into the sunset.
Gameplay in Uncharted is a combination of action-adventure gameplay elements and 3D platforming with a third-person perspective. 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.
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. 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. 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 perspective elements were compared by several reviewers to Gears of War, 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.
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.
The game also features reward points, which can be gained by collecting 60 hidden treasures in the game that glimmer momentarily 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. 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 but also non-game extras, such as making-of videos and concept art. 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, 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.
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. 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. 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'. 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. The team felt the sources shared themes of mystery and "what-if scenarios" that romanticized adventure and aimed to include those in Uncharted.
The game was first unveiled at E3 2006. 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". 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. Other influences they cited include Resident Evil 4, Kill Switch, and Gears of War. 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. 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.
In designing the characters, the artists aimed for a style that was photorealistic. 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. 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 (Elena Fisher and Victor Sullivan) were included to avoid a dry and emotionless story. 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.
The game went gold in the middle of October 2007. A demo was then released on November 8, 2007 on the PlayStation Network before its final release on November 19 in North America, December 6 in Australia, and December 7 in Europe. 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. 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.
Graphics and technologyEdit
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. 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. 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. Gameplay elements requiring motion sensing, such as throwing grenades and walking across beams, were implemented to take advantage of the Sixaxis controller. 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.
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. 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. Additionally, the animation blending system was rewritten several times to obtain the desired character animations.
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. There are 47 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 Naughty Dog game to include the Platinum trophy type. 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. 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. Despite mentioning that the game was developed as a franchise and that it lent itself to episodic content, it was later stated that no content available via download would be made for Uncharted.
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 users 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. 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.
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune received critical acclaim from game critics. Game Informer complimented the visuals and dialogue between the characters Drake and Fisher, calling them stunning and entertaining respectively. They further added that the production values appeared high, citing the level of detail and musical score. PlayStation Magazine echoed similar statements about the visuals and compared them to that of Crysis.
The overall presentation of the game received unanimous praise from critics, who recognized the game's high production values, describing them as "top-notch", "incredible" or comparing them to those found in Hollywood. When combined with the overall style of the game, this led many reviewers to compare Uncharted to summer blockbuster films, with the action and theme of the game drawing comparisons to the Indiana Jones film series and Tomb Raider. As part of the presentation, the game's story and atmosphere were also received well. The depth of the characters was praised, each having "their own tone". The voice acting was also received well, as the cast "nails its characterizations"; overall, the voice acting was described as a "big-star performance", "superb" and "stellar". Game designer Tim Schafer, well known as the creator of the early LucasArts 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).
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, with lighting effects greatly adding to them. The game's water effects were also appreciated. Overall, many reviewers commented that, at the time, it was one of the best-looking PlayStation 3 games available. Further to the graphical aspects, both facial animation and the animation of characters, such as Nate's "fluid" animations as he performs platforming sections were noted, although the wilder animations of enemies reacting to being shot were over-animated "to perhaps a laughable degree".
Criticism of the game included some graphical issues, such as texture pop-in and screen tearing. 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, and some disappointment with the "not particularly memorable" vehicle sections; the inability to both aim weapons and drive the jet-ski was a well-noted issue. Further, some "frustrating, repetitive slogs" with regards to the "constant stream" of pirates and mercenaries, and "moving from one infuriating firefight to the next" towards the end of the game were cited as part of poorer elements of overall gameplay.
Uncharted received several accolades from web review sites such as Kotaku and IGN, who named it their PlayStation 3 game of the year. The game went on to sell one million copies after its first ten weeks of retail, 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.
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. 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. This sequel was revealed to be entitled Uncharted 2: Among Thieves in December, 2008 by Game Informer. A sequel to Uncharted 2, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception was announced on December 11, 2010 and was released worldwide in November 2011. The fourth installment of the series, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, which is set to be the last main installment in the series, was announced on 2014 and after two delays, one in late 2015 and the other in March 2016, was released on May 10, 2016. A single-player-only remaster of the first three titles, titled Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, was released for the PlayStation 4 on October 7, 2015 in Australia and Europe, and October 9, 2015 in North America. Two spin-offs for the PlayStation Vita, titled Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Uncharted: Fight for Fortune were released in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Another spin-off, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, was released for the PlayStation 4 in late August, 2017.
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