Reviews// Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

Posted 21 Nov 2007 19:12 by
The most important thing to do when making a blatant rip-off of Tomb Raider is to find a reason to be raiding tombs. Lara clearly has laid claim to the bored aristocrat hobbyist territory so, in Drake's Fortune, a familial connection to famous slave-trading pirate, Sir Francis Drake, is concocted.

The premise is that, in a manner similar to Elvis and Jim Morrison, ?Old Drakey? (as I'll call him, because it's not at all catchy, it's actually quite annoying, but it makes him sound far cuter than the murderous slave-trading pirate he was) did not actually die of dysentery on January 27, 1596. Let me be clear here, no-one is claiming that Jim Morrison or Elvis (Presley, not Costello) died in 1596. What these characters, and now Drakey, reputedly have in common is that they did not die on their supposed date of death.

According to the frankly implausible but jolly rip-roaring (in a Boy's Own way) premise of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune rather than dying the childless death that is more often a real sailor's lot, Old Drakey went on to spread his seed onto fertile ground and sired an heir. Some 500 years later, our hero, Young Drakey, who we will refer to by his forename, Nathan, has managed to "persuade" a clearly third-rate TV channel into funding his expedition to find Old Drakey's coffin.

It is during this expedition that the game opens with a shoot-out on a boat somewhere in the Caribbean, or somewhere equally balmy. My inference as to the state of the TV channel/production company funding Nathan's little paternity search hinges mainly on the fact that its film crew is one woman with a hand-held camera. That woman is Elena, and she is Nathan's sidekick through much of the adventure. On a few rare occasions you actually control her (and her weapon) while Nate pilots a vehicle.

Nate and Elena discover Old Drakey's casket but are quickly set upon by murderous pirates who sink their ship and (empty) coffin with it. Before the sarcophagus is lost, Nate pockets a copy of Old Drakey's notebook. This is a small, (probably) moleskin-bound volume in which the old pirate noted various ephemera like bets he had with members of his crew, and clues to all of the puzzles you encounter in this game (which was prescient of him).

This opening level acts as scene setter, and training level. It's your task to shoot the baddies as they attempt to board your ship. The shooting is close up and the high-res graphics give a viscerally satisfying splatter of blood as you hit your mark. Headshots are especially rewarding, not only for the pride you get in your accuracy but also because they usually drop an opponent in one shot saving valuable ammo. The value of this will become apparent later. Not later in this review - you won't be needing any ammo to finish the review.

As the boat sinks, our hero and heroine are rescued by friendly "Sully" Sullivan whose Gablesque charm hides a roguish side. Can he be trusted? This is a review, not a walk through, play the bloody game!
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Comments

Showing the 20 most recent comments. Read all 42.
tyrion 23 Nov 2007 14:35
23/42
Rutabaga wrote:
As a PS3 owner I happen to think 86% is a good score, and I've never understood why people seem so obsessed with the magical 90% (9/10) threshold.

It seems that these days an "average" game gets a score of 75% so to set a "good" game apart it must get 90% or higher.

When was the last time you saw a review that was less than 50%? When was the last time you played a below average game?

I'll bet the latter happened more recently than the former.
Rutabaga 23 Nov 2007 15:10
24/42
tyrion wrote:
It seems that these days an "average" game gets a score of 75% so to set a "good" game apart it must get 90% or higher.

Yep it's stupid. But games journalists have made a rod for there own back over the years by over rating a lot of average games and also the mega hyped games (cough*** Halo 3*** cough)

tyrion wrote:
When was the last time you saw a review that was less than 50%? When was the last time you played a below average game?
I'll bet the latter happened more recently than the former.

I played the demo of Conan, it was s**t. A GCSE copy of God of War, with an 80 year old steroid abuse character as the main protagonist and Gamespot rated it the same as Ratchett & Clank. ???

I don't really trust anyone anymore.
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PreciousRoi 23 Nov 2007 21:55
25/42
There are still a few places you can find honest reviews of sub par games. Here in the States, G4TV's X-Play routinely hands out 1/5 and 2/5 to games that deserve it. SPOnG doesn't churn out nearly the volume of reviews, and the ones you do choose to review are usually not those games. X-Play on the other hand, reviews a large number of titles, and inevitably some of them are stinkers, but the majority of games end up with a 3/5 (which is as it should be). Bad reviews also make for some good TV. By sticking to the 5 point system (no halvsies!) they avoid some of the nitpicking involved. IMNSHO, a 100-point scale is too precise, not that I advocate change here on SPOnG (tradition counts for something), it just opens to the door to quibbling. (Not that I'm immune, I myself did a bit of quibbling over the Forza 2 score)

Perhaps SPOnG needs to add a bad game review feature, both to warn people off crap, and provide a sense of scale.

In any event, I agree that people have become accustomed to superlative scores for games that are merely above average.
tyrion 24 Nov 2007 13:01
26/42
PreciousRoi wrote:
By sticking to the 5 point system (no halvsies!) they avoid some of the nitpicking involved.

I find a 1-5 score system has too few levels, you basically have Useless, Bad, Average, Good and Excellent. Logically, you should get a statistical bell curve and have only two or three 1s and 5s in a year with many more 2s and 4s and a huge number of 3s.

That means you can't differentiate between games that are average but enjoyable and average but annoying. This, I find, leads to a flattening of the bell curve and a more general spread, i.e. more non-3 scores than there should be.

PreciousRoi wrote:
IMNSHO, a 100-point scale is too precise, not that I advocate change here on SPOnG (tradition counts for something), it just opens to the door to quibbling. (Not that I'm immune, I myself did a bit of quibbling over the Forza 2 score)

Well, if you can remember that far back, we used to use an A-F grading system that allowed for +/- modifiers, but nobody understood it. We originally went for that because it's less precise and also less open to quibbling over tiny percentage differences in opinion.

We moved to a %age system because it's more universally understood. We did toy with the idea of a 0-10 scale, but then you will eventually get a game that's really a 6.5 and it's a slippery slope to a 0.0-10.0 scale which is effectively a %age system anyway.

The problem with a %age system is that there is the underlying issue that 100% should be perfect, can't be beaten (for now if you take time context or hardware generations into your reckoning) and that 0% should be something that won't even load. Again the bell curve should come into it, but you and I know that on balance the curve these days is centred around 75% or so.

It seems games get a free 50% for loading, having some sort of control scheme and graphics that don't rip your eyes out and stamp on them.
PreciousRoi 24 Nov 2007 16:10
27/42
tyrion wrote:
I find a 1-5 score system has too few levels, you basically have Useless, Bad, Average, Good and Excellent. Logically, you should get a statistical bell curve and have only two or three 1s and 5s in a year with many more 2s and 4s and a huge number of 3s.


This is assuming you review a large, representative sample of games. As I have noted SPOnG does not fill either one of those criteria, for good reasons. As far as having too few levels...game reviews are obviously subjective, eventually people are going to have to make up their own minds. I think the five categories you listed above are exactly the kind and level of information people require in a quick score. Useless speaks for itself. Bad, only if you're a completeist fanboy. Average, you have to decide for yourself, but pending the actual review, it might be worth a look. Good, better than Average. Excellent...its merits far outweigh any flaws.

tyrion wrote:
That means you can't differentiate between games that are average but enjoyable and average but annoying. This, I find, leads to a flattening of the bell curve and a more general spread, i.e. more non-3 scores than there should be.


You differentiate between them the same way you differentiate between two games with similar scores under ANY system. You read the review. It takes a certain kind of courage (or an unassailible position) to keep churning out 3/5s...X-Play has devoted an entire episode to explaining their rating system for the mentally challenged. But once again, given the games that SPOnG does choose to review, the 4s and 5s would be disproportionaly represnted, and 1s not at all, for legitimate reason. (Can't be bothered with rubbish)

tyrion wrote:
Well, if you can remember that far back, we used to use an A-F grading system that allowed for +/- modifiers, but nobody understood it. We originally went for that because it's less precise and also less open to quibbling over tiny percentage differences in opinion.


Oh yeah, I do seem to recall this. Actually I don't thinnk much has really changed...more on this...

tyrion wrote:
We moved to a %age system because it's more universally understood. We did toy with the idea of a 0-10 scale, but then you will eventually get a game that's really a 6.5 and it's a slippery slope to a 0.0-10.0 scale which is effectively a %age system anyway.

The problem with a %age system is that there is the underlying issue that 100% should be perfect, can't be beaten (for now if you take time context or hardware generations into your reckoning) and that 0% should be something that won't even load. Again the bell curve should come into it, but you and I know that on balance the curve these days is centred around 75% or so.

It seems games get a free 50% for loading, having some sort of control scheme and graphics that don't rip your eyes out and stamp on them.


I know now know why the curve centers on 75% or so...took you mentioning the old "grading" system. Seems obvious to me now, everyone is interpreting the percentage score in terms of marks (I believe thats the term you Brits use). Where 50% isn't average, its a big fat FAIL. Might as well go back to the old system, I think they understood it just fine...they're still using it subconsciously.
tyrion 26 Nov 2007 09:03
28/42
PreciousRoi wrote:
I know now know why the curve centers on 75% or so...took you mentioning the old "grading" system. Seems obvious to me now, everyone is interpreting the percentage score in terms of marks (I believe thats the term you Brits use). Where 50% isn't average, its a big fat FAIL.

That's an interesting thought, but I think there's more to it than that. If we are talking of academic grades, etc. then it's usually assumed that under 40% is a fail and 70% and over is the highest grade.

For example (and this may have changed since I went to University) it was always explained to me that BSc grades were similar to the following: <40% Fail, 40-49% 3rd, 50-59% 2.2, 60-69% 2.1, 70%+ 1st. As you can see that follows a bell curve centred on 50%.

If we followed that scoring system (even subconsciously) then we've just given Uncharted a better than best score. On the other hand, if we think of 40% as the rock-bottom score that even a completest would not consider buying below and 70% as the ceiling of good but limited appeal games, we may have a system.

In this system, if a game has over 70%, the chances are you will like it, whoever you are, the higher the score, the more likely it is that you will. A 90% score would be for an almost locked-on everybody will like it game, but there are some issues that stop the game from being perfect.

The problem with that system is that very few games will get over 70%. I'm not a huge fan of FPS games and there are those that actively hate them, so Halo 3 wouldn't be able to get much over 70%. Imagine the furore if a site game Halo 3 a 75% and said it was an excellent FPS, but had limited appeal to those outside the fans of that genre.

As you say, scoring is subjective, but at the moment there appear to be many more games scoring very highly on average than there are scoring lower. Maybe we are going through a time of gaming excellence and each and every game deserves over 50%. In which case, surely it's time to re-evaluate our scoring criteria?
LUPOS 26 Nov 2007 17:45
29/42
tyrion wrote:

For example (and this may have changed since I went to University) it was always explained to me that BSc grades were similar to the following: <40% Fail, 40-49% 3rd, 50-59% 2.2, 60-69% 2.1, 70%+ 1st. As you can see that follows a bell curve centered on 50%.


I think perhaps grading is different in the UK than the US but over here the standard is 100-93 = A, 92-83 = B, 82-73 = C, 72-65 = D and anything 64 or below is an F (though some places use the more clean 100-90=A, 89-80=B, etc...). This is indeed closest to the generally accepted meaning of the percentile system used in most game reviews. Personally even just having played the demo of drakes I feel like the review score given is pretty fair. It does plenty right but does feel a little loose and fidgety in spots. Tis a shame really as I just purchased my GF a PS3 banking on her interest in this and ratchet and clank. Sadly she didn't take to the later and this, while a good game, doesn't have near the draw necessary to yank her free from assassin's creed's clutches. But I'm sidetracked as usual. I think a grades system based on the US grades system would be the easiest and 'most' universally understood. Though it would still require an explanation on the site, if not at the end of every review, just in case.
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PreciousRoi 26 Nov 2007 18:05
30/42
Yeah, I was indeed referring to the US standard (which might explain the phenomena over the wider Internet, but not here)...I was unaware of the enormous difference between the grading systems across the big pondy thing. From my fuzzy memories of skool, 75% was a C...nothing special, but not a D (which was like a High Fail) or a Failure. I'd guess and say that Japanese grading systems share more in common with the US standard, while I assume the rest of Europe might use something more in line with British standards.

I hardly think a UK site is gonna go for a system whose rationalization is based on a US school grading standard.
PreciousRoi 26 Nov 2007 18:51
31/42
(see previous post in reply to LUPOS) Also,

tyrion wrote:
The problem with that system is that very few games will get over 70%. I'm not a huge fan of FPS games and there are those that actively hate them, so Halo 3 wouldn't be able to get much over 70%. Imagine the furore if a site game Halo 3 a 75% and said it was an excellent FPS, but had limited appeal to those outside the fans of that genre.


You can't cater to the anti-preferences of everyone, or indeed anyone...you have to rate the game on its merits. I might not have the deep emotional attachment to Mario that some have, but that doesn't mean I would expect a game review to subtract points from a review of Super Mario Galaxy on my account. That way lies madness.
tyrion 26 Nov 2007 19:19
32/42
Metacritic apparently uses the following conversion scale. A or A+: 100, A-: 91, B+: 83, B: 75, B-: 67, C+: 58, C: 50, C-: 42, D+: 33, D: 25, D-: 16, F+: 8, F or F-: 0. Which seems like a huge leap between A and A- and where the hell did E go?

Just based on six letters with +/- modifiers making 18 scores and 17 equal intervals and rounding off rather than up or down, I'd say A+: 100, A: 94, A-: 88, B+: 82, B: 76, B-: 71, C+: 65, C: 59, C-: 53, D+: 47, D: 41, D-: 35, E+: 29, E: 24, E-: 18, F+: 12, F: 6, F-: 0. But that is a purely mathematical approach.

You see the confusion that can occur? It did and we got emails about it. Oh boy did we get emails about it. So we moved to a %age system and now we get emails about it. Oh boy do we ... you know the rest! :-)
PreciousRoi 26 Nov 2007 21:20
33/42
E is dropped because its sometimes used for Excellent...
DoctorDee 27 Nov 2007 08:51
34/42
PreciousRoi wrote:
E is dropped because its sometimes used for Excellent...


And (in exams) A is sometimes used for "absent". F is used for "fail". Removing E from an A-E score because it could mean excellent is frankly, ridiculous. D could mean "dead good", C could mean "crap", B could mean "b******s".

A to E! It's not hard folks.

tyrion 27 Nov 2007 14:45
35/42
DoctorDee wrote:
Removing E from an A-E score because it could mean excellent is frankly, ridiculous.

It's worse than that, they removed E fro an A-F scale!
LUPOS 27 Nov 2007 14:48
36/42
PreciousRoi wrote:
I hardly think a UK site is gonna go for a system whose rationalization is based on a US school grading standard.


While this initially seems like the logical answer theres a tad be more to it. In my time assisting at SPOnG it has been a constant headache being a "British" site. Besides MS, and even they do it on occasion, no one puts any thought to the UK press. It's usually faster to import a game for review than it is to actually wait and get your review copy before the game launches. At big international events like E3 we have to deal with the UK pr but the US pr doesn't even want to deal with them so try as they might half the time they can't manage to get anything done because even within their own company they are treated as second class. I personally have been of the opinion that the location of the main office should be down played as much as possible. It's a shame that 'spong' is not a term understood outside of the UK (maybe australia? tim?) but on the upside people like myself (america-jin) will just assume it's just supposed to 'sound cool' and not associate it with anything British. The site ends in a '.com', and no where on it does it say 'bloody good video game news' so why pigeon hole yourselves? If news happens in the EU and Kotaku calls up scee, you think they don't get a response? Now reverse that scenario, where's the good in it?
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DoctorDee 27 Nov 2007 14:53
37/42
tyrion wrote:
It's worse than that, they removed E fro an A-F scale!

I really don't see it like that. I see that they removed E from A-E, and replaced it with F. Rather than they started with A-F and removed E.


PreciousRoi 27 Nov 2007 22:42
38/42
In my own limited experience it was in Catholic grade school where they used the E for Excellent.

WikiPedia wrote:
Here is a common example of an American quality index, showing letter grade, qualitative definition, and correlative quantitative value:

A = Excellent or Superior; or top 10% (90 to 100) = 4.0
B = Above Average; or second 10% (80-89) = 3.0
C = Average; or third 10% (70-79) = 2.0
D = Below average, minimum passing grade (60-69); or fourth 10% = 1.0
E/F (or any of a number of other symbols) = Failure or Exceptionally Poor; or bottom 60% (0-59) = 0.0
Percentage ranges may vary from one school to another. In some schools like those in Virginia Beach public schools use the 7-point grade system where the grades are given as follows: 100-94A, 93-86B, 85-78C, 77-70D, and 69 and below is failing, (E) Or like that in Fairfax County, Virginia,100-94 A, 93-90 B+, 89-84 B, 83-80 C+, 79-74 C, 70-73 D+, 69-64 D, anything below a 64 F. In some schools, these ranges may even vary from one class to another. Many schools add .5 to the value of an AP class if a student takes the AP test (thus, an A would be a 4.5, a B would be a 3.5, etc). In California and many other states, taking an AP class adds a full point to the course's grade.

Whether the failing grade is F or E typically depends on time and geography. Some states, but not many, have tended to favor E since World War II while the majority of the country tends to use F. Ultimately, the grade F traces to the days of two-point grading as Pass (P) and Fail (F).




Another possible reason for dropping the E is it being too easy to make an F into an E.

Its not the dumbest or most unreasonable thing I've seen in the American education system.

41% being a passing grade...just seems wrong...if you got anything under a 70% you had problems...a 68% was ugly.

I know if my doctor brags about getting top marks in Medical School I bloody well hope he got better than a 71% in Anatomy!
just me! 9 Dec 2007 18:43
39/42
DoctorDee wrote:
BIG wrote:
bs review. this person was looking for something bad about this game and didnt find it. it's cool to hate on ps3 games now days cuz it'll get the site more hits. Uncharted deserves 9+.

Since when was 86% "hating"? This review seems to have annoyed all the children and fanboys who think every PS3 game deserves 97%. It's a positive review that is realistic about the game's limitations. I've played it and finished it, it was too short and the puzzles were too easy. But then, the puzzles were probably way too difficult for the morons who've posted here.

But since none of the bitches have the guts not to post anonymously, I think we can fairly safely ignore what they have to say.

What a TiT ! all future games will be a rip off as is the music industry ! This is life ! I have the game and it is worthy of the praise received and amercian t**ts need to stop dissin jap ps3 lets face it the xbox 360 is a pile of crap that breaks down n the games suck!

PreciousRoi 10 Dec 2007 07:41
40/42
whadda ya know, another anonymous t**t...
DoctorDee 10 Dec 2007 09:02
41/42
just me! wrote:
What a TiT ! all future games will be a rip off as is the music industry ! This is life ! I have the game and it is worthy of the praise received and amercian t**ts need to stop dissin jap ps3 lets face it the xbox 360 is a pile of crap that breaks down n the games suck!

OK, so you don't know how to quote properly. And it's impossible to tell if you are responding to my point, or to the post I was responding to. You refer to Americans as t**ts, and then immediately use a word from their idiom. You say that the game is "worthy of the praise received" but you are not specific about whether you mean the praise received in our review, which is what this forum is about, or the praise received elsewhere, which was in places unnecessarily effusive. You say that "American t**ts" need to "stop dissing" the PS3, but we are not American, and the point being made is that we were implicitly criticising the PS3 by giving Uncharted the score it deserves, rather than pretending it is a 90% + game.


john 13 Jan 2009 06:15
42/42
dog
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