Review: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Naughty Dog had an extremely daunting challenge on their hands with Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, just by the fact that it had to do one better over Among Thieves. That's definitely no easy task, but that was never going to stop them from trying. The only thing left to answer is how Drake's third adventure measures up to those that came before it, and where it stands on its own in a year like this.
- Worth The Time?Yes it goes without saying, to any action adventure fan and PS3 gamer
- Things LovedThe staple gameplay of the Uncharted series is better than ever, the improvements to the melee combat, the unrivaled cinematic action moments, the way the game never ceases to impress you, the unbelievable jaw-dropping graphics, the characters, the outstanding attention to detail, the epic soundtrack, the awesome, varied and addictive multiplayer
- Things HatedThe occasional visual glitches, there are some moments where the game can be unfair to you - for example, cheap deaths
- RecommendationBuy this game. If you even remotely like the Uncharted series or action adventure games, or let's just say if you own a PS3, you should be making it your mission to get this game. If you don't, you'll only be missing out on one of the best action adventure games out there, one of the best PS3 games of all time and one of the best games this year. Your loss.
- Name: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: Online, Co-op, LAN (2-10 players)
- Platforms: PS3
- Developer: Naughty Dog
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Price: R499-525
- Reviewed On: PS3
The team at Naughty Dog are an exceptional talent. They’ve definitely proven by now that they’re the best in the business at what they do. And if you’ve played Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and enjoyed it, then you will know what I’m talking about and probably won’t need me to tell you why you should get this game. So I’m just going to come out and say it right here. Uncharted 3 is one of the best games of the year, one of the best PlayStation 3 games ever made and one of the best games, of its kind, of all time. But then again, I don’t think those who love this series expected anything less. It just shows the level of expectation that people had for the third game in the Uncharted series, and what a daunting challenge the developers had to try and outdo their last game. In my opinion, they’ve done exactly that.
There’s isn’t much I’m going to be saying about the game’s story. The reason is that, as always, Uncharted is a game that needs to be experienced fully to appreciate it the most. It succeeds in giving you everything you could want in an action game, and once the credits roll, it has played its entire hand. It’s a once-off blast of pure cinematic and quality entertainment, but unlike a blockbuster movie, there are a bunch of awesome multiplayer modes to keep you hooked once you’ve finished the campaign. That said, Uncharted 3 is a different story to its predecessors. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still exploration, a lost treasure to find and all the staples that you’d expect from it, but it’s a more personal story. At times it’s even a darker one. You’ll not only get a very different perception of and see a very different side to Nathan Drake, but of all the characters you’ve grown to love over the last two games. And once you sit down to engage with it, you won’t be able to let go until the end.
To outline the plot, Uncharted 3 sees our favourite hero Nathan Drake and his mentor, Victor Sullivan, travelling around the world in search of the legendary lost city, the Iram of the Pillars. Unlike the story formula of the previous games which involved betrayals and twists, Uncharted 3 takes on a more personal tone, focusing on the relationship between Nathan and Sully, and the motivations, flaws and triumphs of each of these characters. With a game like this, there are bound to be some predictable things here and there, but for the most part Uncharted 3’s strength is in its unpredictability. There’s no telling where the game will take you next, and in what situation it will put you in, and this makes the plot extremely interesting as you get taken to many different locations and settings around the world. Of course, you’ll meet up with all of the familiar faces from the series along the way, and as always the game manages to weave them into the plot pretty naturally without it seeming forced or for the sake of it at all. As expected, the voice acting is absolutely top notch, with the characters sounding and interacting with each other as naturally as if they were completely real. Enough credit can’t be given to the cast for breathing life into these characters, and it’s a big part of what makes this series special.
Uncharted 3, at its core and at the heart of its gameplay, is the same as its predecessors. But what’s to complain about that? It’s the winning formula that made this franchise globally famous and adored in the first place, so deviating from that wouldn’t be the best thing for the series as long as Naughty Dog can continue to deliver at the standard they’ve set for themselves, which they have done as far as I’m concerned. However, there are some changes and improvements to the game, particularly with the melee combat system, and the developers have done their due duty by fixing the few problems that the last game had. The combat system still works the same way, in that square is used for strikes, triangle for counter and circle for grapple, but it’s now filled with context sensitive elements and is much more useful and fun. The game introduces you to the new system in its opening sequence, which is a barroom brawl, and there’s just an awesome level of satisfaction to see Drake interact with the environment naturally during combat, such as by picking up objects and smashing enemies’ faces in with them or pushing enemies up against a wall and bullying them. And it never gets old to wrench the pin out of an enemy’s grenade and watch them uselessly tangle with it until they explode.
The stealth sections have been improved, and they feel more natural. Sure, if you screw up you’re still going to get seen and alert all enemies, but in this case there’s always an advantage in picking a few off silently before dealing with the rest. Other new features include the ability to throw grenades back at enemies, and the vertical combat sections, which see enemies trying to take you out while you’re climbing up a wall, resulting in tense shootouts. The only problem really is that sometimes the game can be unfair to you, and you can often end up dying cheaply if you’re not careful, but fortunately there’s no frustration in this because there are no loading times and in all likelihood the last checkpoint was a few seconds ago. All things considered, it’s the same game at heart, but Naughty Dog have just gone out of their way to perfect every last detail, and it shows in every moment. The pacing, the story progression, the seamless passing from one exciting moment to the next – all of it, Uncharted 3 never misses a step, and the game never ceases to amaze you. Again, the game’s formula and mechanics are the same, but they’ve been refined and made better by how incredible the game design and pacing is, and there’s so much more to this game than just pressing a few buttons on a controller. This is the pinnacle of the Uncharted series, the perfect goal Naughty Dog dreamed to achieve when they began this series. Hell, this is probably what the entire action adventure genre one day dreamed to achieve.
However, there is one vital difference that I can see between Uncharted 3 and its predecessor. In Among Thieves, the game was a constant stream of action until you hit an utterly epic moment. While Drake’s Deception is the same on many occasions, after its build up and towards the end it reaches a point where the game is a constant stream of epic moments until you hit a jaw-dropping sequence that my adjectives will do no good at describing. Moments that not only are probably unmatched in this genre, but moments that define what entertainment is all about, and will remind you why you started playing video games in the first place. These are moments that players have been waiting for since the first game in the series, because we all knew what our expectations were, and we know the characters and universe that Naughty Dog has created, so there’s no doubt that we have a level of connection with these characters and this series that the developers can exploit in all of the great ways you could want. There’s one moment later on in the game that I probably won’t be forgetting for a long time, and it will undoubtedly go down as one of my greatest moments in gaming ever. And the kicker is that there is not a single piece of action in that moment, all of the excitement and chaotic action precedes it.
In all honesty, I wasn’t looking forward to writing about the graphics and sound work in my review. I know that sounds extremely confusing, so let me elaborate. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is masterful with its graphics and presentation. I didn’t know, and still don’t know, how to describe its incredible technical and graphical achievements. Anything I say here is just not going to do it justice. But I can say that the odd, minor visual glitch here and there does absolutely nothing to take away from the phenomenal detail, sheer scope and out-of-this-world visuals of the game, which are polished to perfection. It’s truly something else, and all I can say is that you just have to experience it. If this game isn’t considered to be perfect with its visuals and graphics, then I don’t know what game can say it’s worthy of that merit. The team at Naughty Dog has outdone themselves, and nothing compliments the incredible cinematic experience more than the amazing sound track. And when you have a cast that shines with their chemistry and talent in a way that brings this game to life and makes it one of the most special adventures of this generation, you just can’t ask for anything else. Uncharted 3 is beautiful and brilliant.
After you finish the single player, which is about the same length as the previous two games, there’s the exciting multiplayer that has been vamped up to a level that makes it an entirely different ballgame. There are a wide variety of competitive and cooperative game modes, with even the ability to play LAN and split-screen with two different PSN profiles available. You have a fully customisable profile and player character, Uncharted TV which constantly streams game footage and trailers for you to watch, and community interaction features such as Facebook integration and a place to upload and share match replays. As far as game modes go, there are your standard team deathmatch, free for all and capture the flag modes, your typical Uncharted online modes, there is hardcore (more health, no perks) and three team deathmatch (2v2v2), which are both awesome. Then you get co-op arena, which has you surviving against waves of enemies, and co-op adventure, which sees you teaming up online with two other players in story-based missions. I haven’t even mentioned all of the modes, but it just needs to be said that the multiplayer has something in it for everyone, and you can lose hours to it with ease.
The main thing that makes the multiplayer a blast in my opinion, is that every single match you play feels different. It’s fresh every time. Aside from the fantastic and dynamic level design, and the gameplay of Uncharted, there are a number of elements that increase the variety and depth of the multiplayer. You get Boosters which are basically like perks, and they can do things like make you climb faster. You get a Kickback feature, where if you achieve medals in a match you can activate it to immediately get an advantage, such as getting an RPG or a temporary buff. There are also Power Plays now, which give a helping hand, such as increased damage, to teams that are getting dominated, making them feel like they have a competitive chance. There’s constant progression, in the sense that you’re always earning experience to rank up, money to buy new gear and treasure to earn special items. And of course, there’s still a large collection of weapons, gun modifications and character skins to unlock, for both the Hero and Villain team. And the cherry on top is that you have developers like Naughty Dog at the helm of it, who listen to their fan feedback and continuously improve and support the multiplayer, which means that there are more than enough reasons to keep coming back for more.
Now, if all that I’ve already said about the game hasn’t yet justified its score and the praise that I’ve given it, then allow me to do so now. In the end, I’ve given Uncharted 3 a perfect score for a handful of reasons. As far as I can see, Uncharted 3 can be considered as the benchmark for all future action adventure games like it. This game has close to nothing really wrong with it, and it’s certainly outstanding in everything it does. To deny that this game is art would be insulting. Without a doubt it defines the action adventure genre. And finally, the obvious is that it’s incredible. Naughty Dog has made a phenomenal effort to polish this game to perfection, and every little detail can be appreciated. And not even considering the rating description, I feel that I can’t compare Uncharted 3 to anything, because quite frankly no other similar action adventure game right now can do what this game does any better. This game is simply in a class of its own, and as such it’s fully deserving of this score.
This makes Uncharted 3 the fourth game I’ve given a perfect rating to, and I really don’t take this award lightly. As I’ve often said, nothing and no game is truly perfect, but if you’re going to use that logic to say that a game can then never achieve the highest possible rating, then honestly I disagree. In a game like this, where its flaws are so minor and so easy to look over, and in no way take anything away from the overall experience, which is an absolutely outstanding one, then what should be stopping me from giving it the highest honour that it deserves? And of course, to be Captain Obvious, if a game can be given the lowest score, then surely it should be able to achieve the highest. In my time I’ve been called many things, such as a jaded cynic, a pessimist, a whiner and even someone who is way too negative and critical, to name a few, but despite those names (which I have a good laugh at) I’m someone who believes in giving credit where it’s due and sticking to honesty as much as I possibly can. I don’t sugarcoat, I just say it how it is and speak from my experience – or at least, I try my best to. And in this case, I have meant every word of praise. There are naturally going to be people who both agree with and disagree with me, but whatever the case may be, just play the game yourself and get your own opinion of it, as it’s the best thing to do. I’ve given you mine, with as much objectivity as I could manage.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is a masterful third entry into a franchise that gives you every reason to want to own a PlayStation 3. Its near flawless cinematic action and presentation make it one of the best games of the year, one of the best PS3 games ever made and one of the best action games of all time. Without any moment’s hesitation, I can say that this is what entertainment is all about.