I finished Uncharted: Drake's Fortune last night, and although I took copious notes and intended to dress it down in a formal review, after a good night's sleep, I realized I just don't care enough to make the effort.
Overall, it was a shallow, trite game that brings absolutely nothing new to the table. Even worse, it swipes wholesale from other sources. The thin exploration and puzzle elements are reminiscent of Tomb Raider, although nowhere near the same level of intricacy or design. The gunplay feels a bit like a Gears of War lite, and there's far, far, far too much of it. The story and setting crib from Indiana Jones (or perhaps The Librarian instead), yet the generic white-guy main character doesn't have a tenth of Indy's charisma, not to mention the half-baked plot never comes together.
Honestly, I don't even understand what Naughty Dog was going for here. There's no "hook" or unique identity to the game. Make a few easy jumps, kill a million mercenaries, and travel from scene to scene with very little drama or suspense. Graphically it's fairly strong, but it fails to deliver in every other category… sort of like a videogame equivalent to being a Jack-of-All-Trades. It tries a few different things, but doesn't do any of them particularly well.
In other PS3 news, I started Valkyria Chronicles tonight, and although I'm quite early in the adventure, it's easy to see that it's definitely a quality undertaking. The action-oriented spin on traditional SRPG design is very much appreciated, and it's extremely easy on the eyes.
On the downside, the story (so far) hews closely to the typically cliché Japanese-Style Political Conflict outline that a lot of games in this genre share, but it's not terrible. There are also a few odd things about it, like the way only certain objects can be used as cover, or the way a defensive bonus granted by a blocking stack of sandbags remains in effect even if you sneak up behind the hiding person and take a shot squarely at the back of their head.
Even so, Valkyria remains a vitally fresh attempt in a genre that is especially stale, and it's definitely keeping my attention. One-hit-kills on my tank from behind are definitely a bummer, though.
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Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody's looking, and his favorite game of all time is a toss-up between the first Mass Effect and The Witcher 3. You can catch his written work here at GameCritics and you can hear him weekly on the @SoVideogames Podcast. Follow Brad on Twitter and Instagram at @BradGallaway, or contact him via email:
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