Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating.

Content sum up: While enemy mercenaries act much more like stuntmen than humans when shot, blood effects look along the lines of punctured movie blood packets, and the main casts' light-hearted, sarcastic take on their plight lessens the non-stop intensity they face; there's some suggestive, low brow humor, the language is more than moderate, combat is still on-edge (you can die in a few hits), and the later settings, mixed with disturbing mutants, reaches an almost survival/horror feel. So I recommend this game for ages 14+.

Blood: The blood spurts in moderate clouds of large (bright and/or deep red) droplets when you shoot enemy mercenaries—the blood does not splatter onto walls, floors or linger. Dispatched (unbloodied) mercenary bodies do linger, and you will see skeletal remains scattered throughout. There is no option to turn blood off.

Specific scenes of blood (& mild gore):

(The ESRB didn't mention that there is mild gore.)

  • Nate (protagonist) enters an old, ruined German U-boat and tells Sully (a main allied character) over radio, "Something nasty happened to these guys. There's blood everywhere (there does appear to be a negligible amount of rust-colored blood streaked about the rusty hull)." As Nate goes lower into the ship, he finds a body lying in a threshold on its back, with arms over its head; it is yellowed and decomposed from age, with what appear to be light, bloody shred marks all over its face and body. Nate reaches the core of the ship and pulls back a tatty curtain to reveal another corpse, the U-boat's captain, with its body slumped in a sitting position—its jaw goes slack from the curtain pull; it's also decomposed and yellowed with age, with dried blood streaked around the shriveled up shred wounds on its face and neck. After he views this, Nate remarks on it over radio to Sully, stating, "Ah, it looks like he was killed. Ripped to shreds actually."
  • After a main villain points a gun at him and is about to shoot, the panicked Nate hesitantly asks, "Don't you guys usually just cut off a finger or something?!"
  • As they run through the jungle, Nate and Elena (female protagonist) come upon a dead mercenary caught in a trap (a standing wall of wooden spikes on a hinge that swings like a door when set off), its body fully impaled. A close shot shows its slack-jawed face, lifeless eyes staring into the distance, proceeded by more quick (non-graphic) shots from several angles as they view the body in disgust. It closes with another close-up of the body's face, this time with a light amount of blood visibly running down the side of its head—audible flies buzz around it.
  • After witlessly being exposed to a mysterious dust, a main villain undergoes an immediate transformation; his eyes fully dilate to pure black and his mouth and nose foam over. It then turns and leaps at one of its men, who then shoots it in the head, causing a small spurt of blood. The scene closes with a close-up of its face; the still dilated eyes, foam around its mouth and nose and a visible bullet- hole in its forehead, with a light amount of blood splattered about that area.
  • As Nate holds onto the bottom of an airborne helicopter, a mercenary leans over and tries to shoot him off, but falls out instead. The mercenary holds his trigger as he falls; the expelled bullets pierce through the pilot's windshield and hit him several times, bloodying the windshield and causing moderate blood splatter.
  • A main villain has light, bloodied cuts after falling from a crashed copter, along with Nate, Elena and Sully, all of whom are visibly bloodied and cut at the end.

Language: There's over two dozen uses of hell, over a dozen uses of d*mn and God, under a dozen uses of God d*mn, SoB and sh*t, three or under uses of a**hole, a**, p*ss, bastard and Jesus, and one use of b*tch and Christ. Other than the main script, Nate will spout things like, "Hell yeah!", "Oh sh*t!", "D*mn it!" and more rarely, "Now I'm p*ssed!" while in gunfights; Elena shouts "Oh God!" and Sully will exclaim, "Sh*t!" when you die; and enemies frequently spout SoB, sh*t and things like "Show me your head a**hole!" in gunfights. There is no option to turn language off.

Mild suggestive themes:

  • As incoming pirates begin to surround and attack them on their boat, Nate tells Elena that "They (the pirates) don't take prisoners...least not male prisoners."
  • The side of Sully's plane, titled "Hog Wild," is briefly seen in an early cutscene; it has an illustration of an old style pin-up in a mildly revealing bathing suit.
  • As Nate explains the situation, Sully gets impatient and asks him to "cut to the chase", prompting Nate to say, "A man only interested in the climax. You must be a real hit with the ladies." Sully replies with, "Never had any complaints."
  • While searching the jungle for treasure, Sully stops Nate, "(catching breath) Oh, hold on. Hold on kid. I'm not as young as I used to be." Nate retorts, "Yeah, you weren't too old for that little barmaid in Lima, were you?" Sully ends with, "Well that was different. Although I must admit, equally as strenuous." Resuming the search, Sully spouts, "Oh man, this is like trying to find a bride in a brothel."
  • While reading old ledgers, Nate fiddles with a ring on his necklace; this prompts Elena to ask, "That somebody special?" Nate snaps out of it, saying, "What? Oh, yeah. I guess you could say that." Elena then says, "Huh. I had you pegged as a more of a woman-in-every-port kinda guy." He states, "(laughs) Don't I wish."
  • After reaching Sully and his captors, you overhear him tell them of a woman he met in the Philippines; "Just a wee bit of a thing. She couldn't of been more than four eleven. They called her 'The Spinner' because she..." They stop him here.

Use of tobacco: Sully is seen smoking and/or clenching (multiple) cigars in his mouth throughout—he assists Nate in a puzzle with a lit cigar early in—and Gabriel Roman, a main villain, is briefly seen smoking a cigar in a later cutscene.

Violence: After using his ring's coordinates to find and lift out the coffin of Sir Francis Drake from the ocean floor, Nathan Drake—self-proclaimed descendant of the famous explorer—pries it open as journalist, Elena Fisher, films the event for her soon-to-be- made documentary. Once opened, they find that instead of the body, all it contains is a diary penned by Francis Drake himself—Elena is dumbfounded, but Nate is unfazed; he explains that Drake faked his death and left the location of El Dorado, city of gold, in the diary he now holds. Shortly after his explanation, pirates attack their boat, and just when the situation seems dire, Sully, an old friend of Nate's, comes to the rescue, extracting them via his boat plane. It seems Nate's familial ties to Sir Drake have left him with less of an advantage than he originally thought, and to find the treasure first (and alive) he'll have to fight his way through the—strangely—informed mercenaries. In a treasure hunt, there always seems to be more than one (often opposing) party in pursuit of said treasure; Nate's predicament is no exception...

The base gameplay consists of navigating through the jungles, ruined forts, cities and underground expanses, as you implement Nate's nearly inhuman climbing (jump gaps or from hold to hold; drop down and shimmy on ledges; swing left/right from vines to reach further holds; climb vines, rope, poles and chains; balance on narrow beaming; zip down lines, swim, etc.), combat (use wood crates, low stone walls and pillars for cover as you shoot mercenaries with your varied arsenal—collect ammo from downed enemy weapons—use Nate's melee attacks, or at two points, stealth to take them out from behind) traversal (shoot explosive barrels to down statue and make a bridge, or blow open later blockages; pull chains, levers and turn wheels to open doors, gates or activate objects; prop objects under doors to hold them open; and in two areas, use a Jet Ski to traverse rivers), and puzzle-solving skills (use Drake's journal for clues to rotate/push objects in correct direction/order; follow numeral marked paths to clear a maze—wrong numeral=death—etc.) as to make your way past the island's blockages, and closer to your ultimate goal; El Dorado's treasure.

Your sole enemy are mercenaries, along with later swat-like commando-types (which have more powerful arsenals and full body armor) and cursed (once human) mutants; you'll be combating enemies with a PM 9mm pistol, Wes 44 revolver, Micro 9mm fully automatic pistol (or Uzi), AK47 assault rifle, Moss 12 shotgun, M7 Grenade Launcher, and Hand Grenades—as well as the later, more powerful weapons like the 92FS 9mm pistol, Desert 5 (swift, one-shot) pistol, M4 Assault rifle, MP40 Submachine gun, SAS 12 Shotgun, and Dragon Sniper. The combat system is moderately hectic and intense, and consists of using the above weapons (and at several point, turrets) to shoot away at your surroundings (bullets imbed and break at walls) and the enemy; grenades, the M7 and explosive barrels (in one sequence, a grenade turret to down pursuing enemy vehicles) to crumble enemy cover (crates, stone walls, etc.) and kill multiple enemies as they (and clouds of dust) fly, then fall in contorted positions; Nate's melee skills to perform a variety of close-up attacks; and his (rarely used) sneak attack to pull them in from behind, then break their necks with an audible *snap.*

When shot, enemies shake and contort in a dramatic manner (especially when they're shot with automatics), then scream and flail to the ground, and when injured, they will clutch at their sides, then drag themselves to cover. But while it can be tense, enemy behavior is done in a theatrical, stuntman fashion (they practically jump like showmen when shot from high places), giving the gunfights a more theme park staged shootout feel than that of reality—or the more realistic games in its genre for that matter. The enemy attacks and frequently spawns from nowhere (for instance, behind you) and in all directions, as they quickly take cover, surround, then overwhelm you in the wide- open areas, making it easier for them to flank you and more difficult for you to gauge where each of them are. It just steps up further in, as they become armed with more forceful shotguns, automatics and one-hit-kill M7s (at a few points, they man turrets), and the swat-like commandos make an entrance, all of whom are fitted with helmets and full body armor (making them much more resilient than the average mercenary) and armed with devastating—laser-pointed—one-hit-kill weapons.

Even the environments are against you, and as you progress the often precarious and stomach-lurching platforming portions, ledges and platforms begin to crumble at your feet or—if you're hanging—hands. And in certain areas, you will have to watch for trip lines camouflaged in the jungle; if you set one off, and don't press circle in the correct amount of time (seconds), you will instantly be killed by retrofitted impalement traps that swing together when set off—you have to perform more of these life-saving mini Quick Time Event button presses to escape falling objects or grab onto ledges in time, during a few key areas. In addition, many of the sequences can get quite suspenseful, from a car chase with a steep drop on one side, as Elena drives the jeep and you fend off pursuing enemy vehicles with a combo turret/grenade launcher, to an up-river Jet Ski portion, where you'll simultaneously use Nate to pilot through the rapids and Elena to shoot enemies on the shoreline, along with the endless explosive barrels they send down river to impede your progress—you're in constant peril.

A little more than three-quarters of the way through, the cursed mutants will make an unexpected and abrupt appearance; as you navigate the later underground crypts, you will end up trapped in a circular area with deep pits at its perimeter; the only way out is up—after boosting Elena out, they invade from surrounding pits, and you'll have to hold out as she tries to lower a rope. In the following facility, you'll traverse the dark, maze-like hallways with your flashlight, all as hissing droves of the disturbingly pasty, malformed mutants abruptly rush from corners, grates and ceilings in cramped areas (which, with their speed, makes it hard to get a lock). They'll then try to tear away at you with their claws—killing you in less than three hits—or grasp your body and try to sink their fangs into your neck, forcing you to shake them off. Nate might be capable, but he can only take a few hits, and if you don't take adequate cover (like crates and stone walls, which will crumble under heavy fire) the screen will flash red and sap of color, as Nate's heartbeat increases (his ears ring from explosions) and he clutches at his side—there's no room for error; one mistake, you are dead.

The cutscenes contain many fantastical explosions; a villain shoots a man in the chest (bloodless); an enemy is seen running toward you from a distance, then trips a trap, killing him (bloodless); mutants pull two men down a pit—Nate tries helping one, but is too late, as it clamps the man's neck with its fangs and pulls him down (bloodless); a projector briefly shows a disturbing close-up of a mutant chained to a wall; a villain is seen pulling Elena by the hair and holding her at gunpoint; there's a fiery helicopter crash nearer the end; and a main villain is seen being pulled under water by a heavy object and drowned. As for age, although enemy mercenaries behave markedly more like stuntmen than humans when shot, blood effects look along the lines of punctured movie blood packets, and the main casts' light-hearted, sarcastic take on their plight lessens the non-stop intensity and peril they face; there's some suggestive, low brow humor, the language is more than moderate, combat is still on-edge (you can die in a few hits), and the later settings, mixed with disturbing mutants, can reach an almost survival/horror feel—it's simply more suited to mid-teens and up.

Content re-review posted: 10/12/09
Original review date: 07/02/08

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