Review: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
With any good adventure, it’s all about the protagonist. The realistic anchor to the world, always the person to measure up to the lofty goals set before them. Of course, it’s the insurmountable odds placed before them that serve as their motivation, their reason to keep going. They want to conquer that goal before anybody else, and they want to keep their cool doing it. No other series has perfectly encapsulated this feeling than Uncharted, and Uncharted 3 has managed to show that when you have something to prove as a developer, then you’re going to rise to that challenge with as much pomp and circumstance as you can possibly muster. What Naughty Dog has done here is nothing short of astounding, crafting an adventure that manages to improve on Uncharted 2 in almost every conceivable way.
Of course, I’m not going to go in to story specifics here. To spoil the story in an Uncharted game is to remove much of the reason for persevering, it’s such a driving force behind player motivation here. Suffice to say, Naughty Dog’s penchant for cinematics hasn’t dulled in the slightest. Cut-scenes are wonderfully acted, and the production as a whole is incredibly slick. The facial animations in particular here are some of the most emotive I’ve ever seen in a video game. If you turn off the sound in Uncharted 3, you can still tell what the characters are feeling from expressions alone. You can’t say that for most video games. Of course, the signature quips and comments are still present throughout gameplay, with Nathan Drake spouting some wonderful off the cuff comments throughout the course of the adventure. The tale this time spans a wider variety of locations, taking you to a French Mansion, a museum and even some unexpected places along the way. The game’s marketing campaign has managed to keep a few locations a secret, and I’m more than happy to keep it that way. There really are some surprises that are worth seeing for yourself.
The core gameplay remains much the same in Uncharted 3, save for a small assault of improvements in every conceivable area. Gunplay feels snappy and accurate, climbing is still simple and elegant. It’s the new additions, like the ability to throw back grenades, that really open up the combat to new opportunities. Gone are the days where an enemy grenade guarantees death, and the game is all the better for it. The largest number of improvements come in the hand to hand combat though, with Uncharted 2’s simple system expanded upon greatly with a wider variety of counters, grabs, throws and context sensitive actions. Slapping an enemy with a large fish is entertaining when you want to do it, but even more so when Nathan Drake simply picks it up mid combo and uses it as a finisher. The game is littered with seemingly spontaneous moments like this, happy accidents that really sell the combat as a whole. Some of those moments really do look painful. Of course, Uncharted 2’s signature set-pieces return with a spring in their step, with some truly incredible moments. Listing them would be counter productive, but I didn’t think I’d find anything that would top the building sequence in Uncharted 2, and find something I did. It’s a game that isn’t afraid to border on the ludicrous in order to entertain, and some of the moments in this game really are truly insane.
Naughty Dog has also buffed up the multiplayer options here, with a great selection of modes, such as the fast and changeable objective mode, which sees teams scurrying to complete goals before the other team does. It’s fast and dangerous, with death coming from every conceivable angle thanks to the game’s climbing mechanics. There’s a persistent leveling system, and a whole host of unlockable perks and kickbacks, which are awarded for a string of consecutive medal pick ups. There are also ones awarded for multiple deaths in a row, just so that you don’t feel left out. The co-op mode also returns with a selection of new tricks, along with a bundle of missions that contain the series’ signature narrative trappings. Playing through what might as well be a smaller co-op campaign really is a blast. In addition, all of these can be tackled with a buddy sitting next to you thanks to 2 player split screen, one of my favourite side effects of a game having a 3D mode. You can even take your friend online with you in the competitive multiplayer, if you don’t mind having them tag along that is.
Uncharted 3 doesn’t necessarily represent the staggering leap in quality that Uncharted 2 did from its predecessor, but when your sequel effectively created a whole new style of action adventure in games, it’s hard to top that. What it does do though is take what worked, and improve upon it in ways I didn’t think possible. It’s more of an evolution than the revolution, but to be this good takes practice. It’s quite frankly superb, and you’d be mad not to pick it up right this second.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Wonderful story and acting
- Astounding graphics and music
- Strong multiplayer and co-op
What I Dislike:
- Sometimes it feels like it's guiding you a little bit too much