Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Hands-On

Naughty Dog takes a turn for the realistic as we get to play its new island-hopping treasure hunt for the first time.

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From Crash Bandicoot to Jak & Daxter, famed Sony developer Naughty Dog has always focused on cartoon-like characters and fantastical settings. Not so for its latest project (and first PlayStation 3 game), Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. The game casts you as the eponymous treasure hunter, an intrepid Indiana Jones sort of guy who believes himself to be descended from the famous explorer Sir Francis Drake. In the interest of reinstating his rightful family legacy, Drake has set out to find the lost treasure of El Dorado, which will conveniently also make him filthy rich. At the outset of the demo version of the game we got to try, Drake and an unnamed female companion were traveling via biplane to the island where they believe the treasure to be hidden away.

Unfortunately, things very quickly go awry for Drake--as if you didn't see that one coming. The plane suffers a violent mechanical failure and his copilot has to bail out of the plane. (We have to imagine she'll be popping up again later on in the game.) Drake himself finally parachutes out after trying to salvage some equipment and finds himself alone in a steamy jungle with nothing but a pistol, his agility, and his wits to save him. Soon, he'll find himself wrapped up with the black-market antique and artifact trade, and he'll tangle with a group of testy, well-armed mercenaries who are none too pleased by Drake's presence on the island.

Naughty Dog president Evan Wells says Uncharted's gameplay is made up of three major components--traversing terrain, shooting, and hand-to-hand combat--and we got to try all three in the demo. Navigating through the jungle is very reminiscent of the movement in games like Tomb Raider and Prince of Persia (though it's much less over the top than the latter). You'll be able to grab onto ledges and pull yourself up, tightrope walk your way across precarious fallen logs (using the Sixaxis' motion control to keep your balance), and other adventurous moves of that nature. When we made one particularly great leap across a wide chasm, the camera shifted to a cinematic angle and the action went to slow motion to highlight the action-movie style of the jump. This particular moment seemed to be scripted, but there's no word whether such moments in the final game will happen dynamically or only where triggered by the designers.

Gun combat is indeed another pillar of the gameplay, and in the demo we picked up an AK-47, a shotgun, and a handful of grenades in addition to our starting handgun. You'll only be able to carry one large weapon and one sidearm at a time, so you'll have to strategize to make sure you're using the right one at a given moment. You can shoot from the hip, but that's not terribly accurate since you have no crosshair when running around. For precision aim, you can go to an over-the-shoulder aiming view a la Gears of War. In another nod to that game, hitting the circle button when near a flat surface will snap Drake to that surface so you can use it as cover, and you can pop up or around walls to return fire at the mercs who are ruining your little island vacation.

Finally, we tried the hand-to-hand combat portion of the game a little bit, although since all the enemies we encountered were armed with firearms of some kind, we didn't have many opportunities to get up close and personal with them. At any rate, once you enter into a melee situation, the action will pause for a brief moment and the camera will zoom in a little, and you have to hit the square button at that precise moment to perform a one-hit kill move. When we got this to work, Drake did a double-footed dropkick right upside the enemy's head. But the moves are said to be contextual, so for instance, if you're near a wall when you pull off the move, you might grab the enemy and slam their face into it instead. Indeed, the other time we pulled off a melee kill, Drake wrestled with the enemy and then snapped his neck. From what we could tell, failure to properly time this attack will result in missed punches and general flailing around, giving the enemy time to fight back.

Naughty Dog has always had a reputation for squeezing the utmost performance and fidelity out of Sony's hardware, and it looks like that tradition will continue with Uncharted. The game looks beautiful, thanks in no small part to the entirely new graphics engine it's running on. The characters are among the most detailed and lifelike we've seen to date--especially in cutscenes--with some spotty lip-sync animation being the only thing that broke the illusion in the demo we tried. The jungle environment was flush with fully modeled foliage that swayed in the breeze, and the rushing water of a stream we saw was extremely impressive--the reflection and refraction effects as we tilted the camera to a bird's-eye view were exceptionally true to life.

The gameplay in our demo was pretty straightforward, as Drake alternated between climbing on mossy rocks or jungle ruins and engaging in firefights with the bad guys. Wells promises more explosive weaponry will be available later in the game, though, and at the end of the demo, Drake happened upon the crashed plane and discovered a map that we're sure will come in handy later. In addition, a trailer shown at the event indicated that Drake will get caught up in all kinds of trouble. So we're confident that Uncharted will turn out to be more than a Tomb Raider knockoff in the final analysis, especially given Naughty Dog's nearly spotless track record in the last few years. The game is due out on the PS3 toward the end of the year, so we'll get to see the result of the developer's labor in a few months.

Discussion

166 comments
jak_x_fan
jak_x_fan

maybe, drake has over 3000 and more upcomming animations in his body....

razarocks
razarocks

Do you guys think its going to have better graphics than gears of war? The character models look pretty sweet.

Eclipse83Lives
Eclipse83Lives

I know "not think" the PS3 will own in a few years threw a lot of games that are in like 5 year long development now. Being coated over and over and over. But I was not big on Jak and Dakter. Compared to Sly Cooper and Ratchet and Clank. So I will not bet on this one just yet. Im telling you its all gonna start with MGS4. And than after that its going to just keep moving up with games like Kingdom Hearts 3, FF, Killzone, God of War 3, SOCOM, The Getaway, and those late 2008 2009 games. But not now. But it may be a surprise? I just dont trust Nughty Dog yet? Yet??? This system has a tun of long developed stuff in the works. Not to many quick eye candy bangs.

Symphonycometh
Symphonycometh

@gamer082009: Uh-oh, another honest 360 owner... That makes 7 in 4 weeks for me! *Ignoring the dozens of them that arn't...* The game seems okay...I liked the trailer...

Roberthovell
Roberthovell

This game look siiick -is it just me, or does this game remind you of ..uhh...dmmit i cant remember the name!! I will explain, ur char is called GEORGE, and you went bout olving mysteries etc. Umm it was a smash hit on the ps1, on the pc ( wasn't so good ) and was also on ps2 but then died out.. Gahhh i can't remember. But anyway, it reminds me of that game!:D haha Still - looks ace, can't wwait to plaayyy it :)

88_movement
88_movement

red-orc Why would I have a 360 and a PS3 ur right im not a 'real gamer' I have a life therefor have no need for two consoles.

alfa1987
alfa1987

Looks great, thats one more game on my wsh list :)

p00phead
p00phead

Wow this looks damn good

TyZeRViRuS
TyZeRViRuS

awsome... I really like the look of this game and im not really into this sort of game, it will be great for the ps3.

majestikk
majestikk

Finally some decent looking 1st party software.

gamer082009
gamer082009

I'm a hardcore 360 fan but I must say that this game may makes me wanna buy a PS3. One thing I can say is Sony has always had interesting different games that really grab you. This game just looks plain fun.

guitahero
guitahero

Great news for ps3, since naughty dog is a excelent developer!

Mystearical
Mystearical

Hard to tell - but the art and environments look nice ^^

daveb1978
daveb1978

Tomb Raider mets Far Cry mets Splinter Cell... Hmm... Might be something worth playing the PS3 at last.. :)

surppo
surppo

they should come out wit a new jak were u could control daxter wit a psp that would be tight maybe ratchet too really any ps3 game that might help sony a sell a few systems on both ends

osirisomeomi
osirisomeomi

I like how Sony's put together a whole string of AAA titles for this holiday season. Hopefully it'll turn the console sales around. Looking forward to playing this game, looks awesome!

juan99692k6
juan99692k6

to elmecca: You just read my Mind. You spoke the Plain truth. I agree with you 100%

elmecca
elmecca

dynomitemasta says: "This IMHO shows more promise than killzone and MGS combined" You gotta be seriously fuq!ng with your head , write this words on your forehead kid ...there aint gonna be no game... EVA...thats gonna get close to the Metal Gear Solid level .

rocky2k32000
rocky2k32000

@dynomitemasta. just cuz what you're saying is reasonable does'nt make it a fact. this game could still be a seller wether the price goes down or not. so this game is likely to sell alot with or without the 2 things you mentioned.

sdkingsht
sdkingsht

the Jak series is still one of my all time favorite platformers/action adventure (2nd only to God of War) so i have no doubt Naughty Dog will come through with this. it looks incredible and i can't wait to get my hands on it.

reeftonexpress
reeftonexpress

sounds great, i hope its as good as the jak games.

mcxps3
mcxps3

y cant sony give us this demo over the psn.

dynomitemasta
dynomitemasta

oh, and in case you didn't know, this game was based on the real life adventures of the one and only "Eddie Deezen" they stretched the truth a bit but " Eddie Deezen" just the same.

dynomitemasta
dynomitemasta

This looks amazing, but if they want to go for super realism they are gonna have to unsaturated the color which is still giving it a cartoony look. This IMHO shows more promise than killzone and MGS combined.The reason? It's not the same ol', same ol'. It will definitely break new ground in the way we look at games on the PS3. If they bundle it with a new 80gb console and lower the price to $499, I think It will sell systems.......BIGTIME, but without the two things I just mentioned, it won't sell systems at all

rocky2k32000
rocky2k32000

i don't see 360 having anything on this! oh...........wait..............too human............LOL!

SonOfSparda018
SonOfSparda018

This will be a big hit for the PS3. Where is the XBOX360 version?? Oh sorry, maybe on the next gen XBOX! Hahahahaaaa

cameroncu2
cameroncu2

This game is gonna be awesome! Just like Jak ;) It's been a long time since I played a good adventure game.

red-orc
red-orc

@ rocky2k32000: Somehow I agree with you: People shouldn't compare it with Gears only because of the cover-system. A comparison to Gears would be too much of a compliment at this point in time, as for Gears already made its place in gaming-history and Uncharted is not even yet playable for the press. Here's another comparison: Games like Uncharted and Eight Days give me almost the exact feeling about the difference between 640x480- and 1280x1024-monitor-resolution: It looks like a bigger playground, everytings smaller, smoother, rounder, more detailed. Gears is pretty and shiny, too, but that's where the difference is between the 360 and the PS3, I guess.

casensation
casensation

LMFAO! I love how people compare this to Tomb Raider and Gears of War, both were good selling games and there is some signifigance of those two games in Uncharted, but this game has a way diffrent story line and in my own opinion this game is more like movie-style gameplay.Its gonna be awsome.

rocky2k32000
rocky2k32000

this game is not using any gears anything! great cover systems have been used ever since KILLSWITCH and 007:EVERYTHING OR NOTHING . it's getting tiresome as everyone mentions gears like it is the first game to use a good cover system.

rocky2k32000
rocky2k32000

@justincool it's okay mate! hah! i got my ps3 at launch and i got over 5 games! :) CAN'T WAIT FOR MORE AWESOMENESS

bossjimbob
bossjimbob

Even though the name sucks, Drake's Fortune looks interesting. Like a cross between Gears and Tomb Raider.

pop4
pop4

For gear of war, from what I heard that some other great game that using unreal 3 engine too, can't get as good as visual effect as gear of war. why? since the GOW using darker scene and shinning metal metarial which easily create very good visual attractive effect, but when apply on real-life scene, maybe the result is not that good.

haesuse
haesuse

u know this is naughty dog we are talking about. designers of some of the all-time greatest platformers and best selling games as well. being that they are sony's "Crew" i think just for the sake of the much needed sales/game lineup boos this should have been another J&D adventure instead. dont get me wrong the game looks very nice, it appears to be creative but it is another shooter, and a completely unknown title to most of the PS fanbase. now i am usualy against too many sequels but this time i think they made a wrong move by not starting off with one of those!

djord02
djord02

After watching the video, I got the impression that it's a mix of Tomb Raider gameplay elements and Gear's cover system. The animation and environments look pretty good, though I'm not too sure about the gun play yet, it looks a little bland. Some people on here are saying that they think the graphics look better than Gears, but I take that with a grain of salt. The two games look completely different, for one. Gears is set in a post-apocalyptic cityscape, and Drake's Fortune is set in a jungle. And how many PS3 fans have REALLY seen Gears running in hi-definition? Hmm? Anyway, I think this game looks promising and could be a much needed addition to the PS3 lineup.

willjoea
willjoea

I've been following this game since the first trailer shown pre-ps3 release, and I'm siched to see it looking so awesome. Can't wait for this one. Great job Naughty Dog!!

justincoool
justincoool

sup man (rocky2k32000) Eight Days looks crazy too...real cars....plays like a movie...u all should check it out on gametrailers......Uncharted will be the jump off this fall....PS3 will get back into it's groove......just get one....

rocky2k32000
rocky2k32000

dnp25 you should check out the ONLY trailer ever released for eight days from E3 2006. i think you'll find that game attractive too.

dnp25
dnp25

just kidding i can see some pulling their hair out right now the ps3 needs more games like this to stay alive ,good work naughty dogg

rocky2k32000
rocky2k32000

maybe you are dnp25. but............nah this game does'nt look like s**t. and i can swear warhawk's BETA looks better than HALO 3's anyday! ps3 is owning with many great games coming out. 360's first party games have NOTHING on the ps3's. i cannot wait for EIGHT DAYS! that one looks awesome too!

dnp25
dnp25

yep i am blinded by fanboyism this game looks like sh*t

red-orc
red-orc

@88_movement : Alright then, I said it: Looks like great fun. I just somehow refuse to believe, that PS3-games are already so much better than X360-games can ever get - that's not realistic. But I'd loved to be surprised, cause the real gamer should have both consoles anyway ;)

vdarkfall999
vdarkfall999

Didn't really comment on the quality of the gameplay... but okay.

casensation
casensation

If you guys heard that Uncharted at SGD only 1/3 of its graphics,environment,etc. then the final version of it will be a masterpiece. If anyone says this game doesn't look good they are blinded by fanboyism.

88_movement
88_movement

red-orc yes they do. Gamespot said it is the best they seen on a next gen console so it does look better.

red-orc
red-orc

Looks like great fun, but to be honest: I don't really see any innovations. Drake's Fortune is a new Tomb Raider-clone with trademark-elements of Gears of War and Pitfall. And whoever thinks that the statement is true that grafics and animations are only possible with blu-ray is childishly naive: The guy who said it is in charge of Sony and he's saying it in the middle of a format-''war''. He's doing his job and that's okay, but do those grafics look better than, let's say, Assassin's Creed for Xbox? - No!