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Being in the enviable position of owning both a 360 and PS3, there isn't really a lot to choose between them. If the 360 has better online experience with the fully fleshed out live provision, the PS3 seems to be getting the lion share of the cinematic games. Having come from the likes of Heavenly Sword PS3 I couldn't help being somewhat shocked at the poorly scripted and synced cut scenes in triple A titles on Microsoft's system such as Halo 3 360.
Uncharted Drakes Fortune, is another game that further bolsters this dichotomy and keeps the PS3 edged in front when it comes to a watchable video game experience. We can dig into the details of the overall play experience in a bit, but the bottom line is that a game that is as much fun to watch as to play is always going to be a hit in our books.
From the off the game can't help but impress with some simply stellar writing and voice work. Uncharted manages to tell its story without making the action laboured or overly fragmented. Cut scenes are largely rendered in-engine which makes the game feel like a coherent whole rather than action and movie sections stripped together. The writing, as we have said, is confident and distinct, each character has their own tone of voice throughout - and that is before we get to the voice work. The game's directors seem to have got big-star performances from their less known talent list.
There are many moments throughout the game when writing and voice talent and visuals fade into the background, and you can simply enjoy the unfolding tale on the screen
Perhaps the best way to sum up all this is to highlight the subtle use of comedy. There are many moments throughout the game when writing and voice talent and visuals fade into the background, and you can simply enjoy the unfolding tale on the screen. Nowhere is this more evident than in some of the incidental comedy moments that pepper the game. Such is the aplomb and confidence of the production that these most difficult of human interactions really work well. The point where Drake turns round a bit too quick and bangs his head is simply genius and had us in stitches.
But to the game proper; for those not already in the know Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is a game that falls in the action adventure genre with more than a nod towards Tomb Raider although with a more Indiana feel to things - not least with the male lead. It is played in third person, over the shoulder and controls much as we have come to expect of these types of game. One stick controls the camera, which although not terrible does rely on the player chipping in with some specific direction now and then; the other stick controls drake and enables him to walk or run in any direction. The game uses an intelligent movement scheme that automatically selects walking or running speed dependant on your environment. It's a simply touch but one that works well, and also enable them to have more control of entering and leaving cut scenes.
Shooting is controlled by moving into an aim mode with the left trigger then popping off a cap with the right. On top of this you can press circle to attach to environmental cover. There is also a nice close combat brawling combo system that seems a little heavy handed at first, but given some time really proves its worth.
Combat is towards the harder end of the spectrum and this is not just down to the number of bullets you have to land to kill someone (although that certainly doesn't help). Enemy artificial intelligence is the main factor in tripping up even the expert player. Give them half a chance and they will soon be creeping around behind to out flank you. These encounters, that provide the majority of the meat in the game, are largely enjoyable. At times it can become a little repetitive as you are forces to tackle wave upon wave of henchmen. Apart from this though, the game can easily hold its head up amongst its many competitors in the genre.
As you may expect from its Tomb Raider-esque production values, Drakes Fortune also leverages its fare share of environmental puzzles. These range from knocking big boulders off cliffs, to more intricate button pressing. On top of this there are some most enjoyable chase scenes. Here you take up position on a mounted gun on the back of a jeep, or even pilot a mini watercraft up a white-water river.
All this adds up to a varied and watchable experience. Unfortunately the fun is over all too soon. We had only clocked up around nine hours before we had finished the game. Whilst this may be a little short for your hard-core players, those with less time and more responsibility may approve of more compacted play.
Overall, we liked the mix (even if it was a little heavy on the gun play) and the exactly character work meant we were always eager to progress. It may be slightly unfortunate for Naughty Dog that they released their game shortly after Assassin's Creed 360 ; although the two are very distinct experiences where they do overlap (such as in the climbing) Uncharted can't help but come off second best. That said, there is probably more actual enjoyable content here than many found in Ubisoft's game, and it is certainly a much more pre-packaged delivery. This is a game you could think of as your summer blockbuster, although this is meant in the best possible way.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: