Uncharted: Drakes Fortune
Uncharted is a series spanning over 10 years with 6 mainline titles with multiple spin-off titles and even a movie in development but it all started in 2007 with Uncharted: Drakes Fortune.
This game is a far cry from what the series would later become in terms of its grandeur. As the series goes on everything gets bigger and better with every passing title but this game lays the groundwork for that very greatness. At its core, the first Uncharted game is a very basic third-person shooter with multiple different weapon types from pistols to assault rifles and even grenade launchers and RPGs. In all honesty, the gameplay isn't where this series shines and this game shows that better than any other as the jumping/climbing is very clunky and running into wave after wave of enemies with little ammo can become very frustrating at times. This isn't to say the gameplay isn't entertaining but it certainly isn't the title's strongest area.
The variety of enemies in this game is very small with their only being three that you run into regularly. Most of these will have a pistol or assault rifle and will try to outflank Drake when he's in cover, the less seen are the shotgunners who will just rush your position and then enemies with explosives which force you out of cover. The little diversity here makes the gameplay a little more than mediocre even if it does get the basics down. Again this is greatly improved in the sequels. The only other real forms of gameplay are puzzles and set pieces, the first of which is usually very simple with puzzles already having been solved for you in Francis Drakes journal you just have to replicate what's on the page and the latter being okay but nothing epic especially in comparison to the set pieces of its sequels.
Where this title shines is the introduction of the series three main characters and their interactions throughout the story whether its Nates quippy, light-hearted attitude, Elena's no-nonsense nature, or Sully just being the loveable character that he is there is something for everyone to enjoy. The story itself, if a little cliché, is enjoyable and really gets the player engaged in its cut scenes especially later in the game when you get to areas with more complicated puzzles, curses, and even WW2 tie ins. The game gets extremely cliché when it comes to its villains. We have Gabriel Roman who is a classic British villain who Sully owes a great debt, Navarro who is Romans sinister sidekick and then the criminally underused and utterly hilarious Eddy Raja who Nate has crossed paths with before. Aside from Eddie, the other two villains aren't the only cliché but also forgettable which is sad really as the villains are something this series is known for doing particularly well in future titles but here they just aren't up to par. The supernatural nature of the 'curse' isn't really explored which I actually really like, there's a sense of mystery here which doesn't need to be figured out it just needs to be destroyed. This trend is continued in later games and I'm glad it sticks to the same formula as, unlike the rebooted Tomb Raider series, the focus isn't on saving the world, even if this is what our protagonists always end up doing anyway, it's not their intention. This ends up adding another layer of depth to our characters as they aren't hero's, at least not by choice.
The game itself is very grounded in terms of its setting. In future titles you see Nate jetting off around the globe whereas in this game you're on the same island for almost the whole game. I have mixed feelings about this as I love going to many different locations in the other games however this game does very well at showing many different settings whilst staying on this one island which I think is commendable in itself. You move from dense jungle to ruins to monasteries and even a WW2 Nazi bunker. You'd think all these different locations bundled together could muddle the story slightly but it doesn't, everything links really well together here and makes transactions to different areas not seem forced.
Aside from the main story, we have collectibles in the form of treasures that Nate can collect throughout the game. These aren't anything special but they are a returning staple throughout the series and occasionally a few of the collectibles can be particularly hard to find, it's a welcome challenge. Apart from that, there are a few cheats you can use and some stat tracking which gives you a notification when getting 50 kills with any weapon, again it's not groundbreaking stuff but it adds a little extra in terms of replayability. The remastered version of this game for the PS4 also includes the continuous speed-run mode which encourages a player to complete an entire play through as quickly as possible however this does little more than unlocking a trophy.
Overall this game on its own isn't amazing and this is coming from someone who genuinely loves this series. The combat almost feels heavy and can be very awkward at times, the story is a bit predictable even if it isn't so bad. The saving grace is easily the atmosphere that the settings help to create but even more so the characters, their relationships may be greatly expanded on in future titles but the story Nathan Drake, Elena Fischer, and Victor 'goddamn' Sullivan starts here. Their epic journey begins here.
Some may even say they achieved greatness from this small beginning.