Nathan Drake just can’t seem to catch a break; he’s been beaten to a pulp in the Amazon, Tibet, Istanbul and Napal, and now he’s getting his ass kicked once again across the globe. Since its origin, the Uncharted series has been known as a jack of all trades, but a master of none. Does Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception continue this tradition, or is this entry something special?
At the start of the game, Drake and his trusty companion Sully find themselves in the London underground; trying to broker a deal for Drake’s ring, passed down from Sir Francis Drake himself. As usual for the cocky explorer, things don’t go according to plan which leads Drake and Sully on a trek across the globe to find the so called Atlantis of the Sands. But Drake isn’t the only one seeking the lost city. Catherine Marlowe–who has had previous encounters with Drake during his childhood–and her black suited companions seek the lost city for what can only be assumed to be nefarious reasons.
The Uncharted games have always been known to have a great story, but this one exceeds even the high expectations set by the previous entries. Seeing the game focus more on the relationship between Sully and Drake is a very refreshing change of pace after the romance-heavy previous games. And while the story still has a lot of the same tropes, it flawlessly weaves in new and exciting elements, making for a truly epic tale. Uncharted 3 takes everything you love about classic adventure tales, adds a generous dash of tongue-in-cheek humor and shatters expectations with numerous plot twists. It’s a serious story, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and we love it.
The combat is balanced more evenly than past Uncharted titles with shooting, brawling and stealth. Gone are the kill rooms from the previous games where hordes of enemies simply awaited their slaughter. You can go through large parts of the game without firing a single bullet or alternatively breaking a single nose. The pacing between fights, exploration and puzzles makes Uncharted 3’s singleplayer hard to put down. Don’t be surprised if you end up playing a few hours more than you originally intended to.
We’re happy to say that the shooting mechanic has gotten a lot better since Uncharted 2, all the guns feel more impactful and varied, and the enemies definitely aren’t bullet sponges anymore, with the exception of the heavily armored baddies. To deal with those pesky heavies the game features a very cool and very fun melee system. The melee reminds us a great deal of the system found in the recent Batman games, it’s less varied, yes, but a lot more satisfying due to the second-to-none animations.
Compared to more recent games the platforming mechanic feels notably stiff and hasn’t really evolved much since the first game. The animations that go along suffer because of it. You’ll often notice drake suddenly snapping to a ledge he shouldn’t have reached be a long shot, which can momentarily take you out of the immersion.
That said the level design and spectacle of climbing has never been better, with breathtaking vistas regularly serving as the backdrop during Drakes more challenging climbs.
The puzzles have also gotten a considerable upgrade since the last game. Gone are the simple “duh” puzzles of the previous titles. They are definitely not hard by any means, but you will have to consult the notebook and ponder one or two conundrums. The puzzles don’t feel out of place and evoke a great sense of wonder with their grand designs.
The game looks great, there’s no doubt about that. This time around the graphical upgrade isn’t quite as noticeable as the one between the first two games, but it still looks absolutely breathtaking. The visual diversity in Uncharted 3 is simply overwhelming, you’ll go from dark and claustrophobic caves and tunnels, to great outdoor vistas, majestic halls, and urban cities. All rendered in astonishing detail and given an atmosphere that provides unquestioning immersion. To back this up is a classical musical score reminiscent of your favourite adventure movies, only a little more subtle and a lot more effective.
Along with the single player there’s also an option to play either competitive multiplayer or coop. The multiplayer comes with all the bells and whistles you’d expect, it plays pretty much exactly the same way the multiplayer in Uncharted 2 did, which is a good thing. There are plenty of tweaks and new additions however. Boosters, the games version of perks make a return in greater numbers and variety.
The coop has some refreshing new additions. The Coop Adventure is back, but this time around it coincides with the main story. It’s not as well written or dramatic as the main campaign, but one could hardly expect it to be.
Coop Arena is basically horde mode with waves of increasingly difficult enemies storming the players. Coop Hunter Arena is basically the same thing, except some of the enemies in the horde are controlled by players, providing extra challenge.
Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception is not a perfect game but does so many things so well that any shortcomings are virtually unrecognisable. It’s a game with almost limitless replayability; courtesy of the excellent multiplayer and coop options. Sure the climbing is a little stiff, and the difficulty curve has some unexpected spikes, but those problems are so minor that we wouldn’t have noticed them if it weren’t for the otherwise stellar performance. Screw adventure gamers, if you’re a human being with a pulse, you should definitely play this game!
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Name: Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception
Available on: PlayStation 3
Developed by: Naughty Dog
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment of America
Release date: November 2nd 2011
EG Score: 5 out of 5 / “Worth Buying and Renting”