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I was really looking forward to reading this book, being a huge fan of the games, but finished it feeling somewhat disappointed. To explain, I was expecting an exciting page-turner full of wit, romance and daring-do but what I got was a rather dull tale that I was glad to reach the end of. The strength of the Uncharted games lies in their almost perfect mix of action, adventure and mystery ... something that personally I found sadly lacking in this book.
On the positive side, Drake and Sully are portrayed as much you would expect them to be. Charming rogues in it above their heads. My initial problem with this book is that it doesn't refer to any of the events in the games. That being the case, I had no point of reference in which to set the story but I would suggest its a prequel as the absence (or reference to) one of the games series' major female characters puzzled me. For an adventure story there is also a real lack of action. The games are famous for their varied and amazing set pieces (such as the train shoot-out in Uncharted 2 and the plane crash in Uncharted 3) but all the action in this book continually repeats itself, basically being close-quarters shoot-outs taking place in the same location (that being fundamentally the same labyrinth, just on different continents). There's a sniff of a car chase near the start but if you're expecting cliffhangers there really aren't any.
But what the reader does get is exposition. And more exposition. And even more exposition. Obviously in the Uncharted games (as with the Indiana Jones movies) it is necessary to inform the viewer why the character(s) need to globe-trot to the next exotic location in order to advance the story but this book spends far too much time explaining to the reader (via conversation between the characters) why they are going somewhere only to result in a disappointing pay-off (that being the aforementioned lack of action). Where the Uncharted games and the Indy Jones movies get this balance almost perfect this book leans too far to the less-exciting side.
If I were to nit-pick there is also a massive plot hole involving a bunch of mystery characters in the story. One minute the heroes have no clue who they are, the next they are referring to them by their 'official' collective name with no explanation!?
The book is OK, just lacking the wonder and excitement offered by the games. Maybe it's best Nathan Drake stays on the PS3 instead of the book shelf.
If you are looking for an amazing modern adventure story then look no further than Matthew Reilly's Jack West Junior trilogy. Breakneck heroics taking place in breath-taking set pieces that leave you wanting more at the end of each chapter. Simply splendid stuff.
Seven Ancient Wonders (Jack West Junior 1) The Six Sacred Stones (Jack West Junior 2) The Five Greatest Warriors (Jack West Junior 3)
I love the three "Uncharted" games. I think they offer some of the best things video games can provide: not only do they have a compelling, fascinating, and exciting narrative, their characters are also incredibly believable, their actions and motivations consistent and human and they drive the story forward more than the plot. The games, effortlessly balancing platformers, combatives, and cinematics, also feature sharp writing, incredible visuals, clever puzzels and obstacles, and such a tight control that your adrenaline doesn't let up until the last level.
It was only a matter of time before the novelizations would come out. The premise in this one is fun and interesting enough, especially as the red herring for a pulpy novel like this. What makes no sense is why Naughty Dog and Sony decided to hire Christopher Golden as the author. With tie-ins, you have to approach the story with a grain of salt: sure, you can have fun and get more adventures with some of your favorite characters. This book, however, misses completely all the joy from that series. Drake and Sully don't feel or sound like Drake and Sully. It's difficult to even picture the performances of Nolan North and Richard McGonagal. Golden also has a strange inability to write action sequences -- in fact, he often glosses over a lot of them, ending the chapter at a cliffhanger and starting the next one with "Later...". He has no sense of the environment or sets of his sequences and for the most part, keeps the characters sitting still, hardly moving except to gesture. He feels the need to explain every little detail, gesture, reference, or joke. So it's an action/adventure narrative that's frequently boring. Most of the action in the games comes because Drake is trying to save someone, has to play the hero, and the other characters are all trying to deal with that. Here, Drake and Sully go to New York to help a deceased friend's daughter, and that's where the character motivation ends.
The Uncharted games are not intellectually challenging, but they do flesh out their characters as well as any series in the genre can. None of that's here. Elena isn't even here. It was a good premise, the whole labyrinth/Minotaur thing, but it went wasted in shoddy writing and a misunderstanding of everything that makes the "Uncharted" games so enjoyable.
2.0 out of 5 starsA Good Treasure-Hunt Story, But Not An Uncharted Story
Reviewed in the United States on 14 October 2011
I am a huge fan of the Uncharted games for PS3. They are two (soon to be three) of my favorite games on the console and I hold out high hopes that the coming PSVita game will be a huge hit too. So, I was very excited to see a tie-in novel to Uncharted was being released in advance of the upcoming "Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception." Having just finished this novel, I've concluded that it is a good treasure-hunt story, but it doesn't feel like an Uncharted story. To be sure, there are some great action moments throughout this novel, but none of them feel like the games. The first half of the story is filled with tons of exposition on the parts of the characters, scenes that would've been quicker and appeared less often in the games. Now, knowing the limitations of translating action-packed games into literature, I wouldn't have knocked this book down so hard for it, especially since it enjoyably picks up the pace in the second half of the novel. But there was something else that bugged me about this novel that I didn't figure out until I had a moment to think about it: Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan, the two characters from the games that appear in this novel, don't feel like the Drake and Sully from the games. I kept trying to imagine the same voices saying the lines in the novel, but it just never seemed to sync. Whatever the author's experiences with the games, I just don't feel that his characterizations of them matched what I had seen in the games. And THAT is why I've knocked it down to two stars. In the end, it's a serviceable tie-in novel, but I'm not going to be sending letters to Naughty Dog asking them to turn "Uncharted: The Fourth Labyrinth" into their next game.
2.0 out of 5 starsFeels like I am reading an Hollywood action packed flick...
Reviewed in the United States on 26 October 2011
This is a review of the Pre-release book (no picture on cover). First off, I am not really familiar with Uncharted games and I thought it would maybe give me a nice feel about this game amd make me wish to play it. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. This book feels like the kind of book you buy to kill time in an airport. How could I explain it the best? I am not going to tell you the synopsis, other reviewers will have done that. What I can say is that it reads like you would be watching an action packed movie, with all the associated cliches and requirement for suspension of belief. In that genre, the book works well. As far as I am concerned, it dit not do the trick to keep me interested much.