|Dev: Naughty Dog|
|Release: November 1, 2011|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Language, Violence|
by Matt Walker
It's hard to believe it has only been four years since Uncharted: Drake's Fortune first debuted. What's easier to believe, though, is that the series has become one of the best—if not the best—franchises of this generation. Personally, I would say that along with Gears of War, Uncharted is one of the two franchises that people will remember this generation for. After all, in the case of Uncharted, we've been blown away repeatedly in terms of graphical capabilities, story interaction, and the way the overall experience threw us curveball after curveball.
Ever since the end of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, fans have clamored for another title. Of course, a third iteration was inevitable, but the demand was a lot more than just the usual "We want a sequel" attitude. It was like watching a great movie where just a few of the things you wanted to know were revealed and only more questions were asked. It was almost like seeing The Empire Strikes Back for the first time and not being able to watch Return of the Jedi right after. (Perhaps that's not the best comparison.) In any event, the demand is high for the latest adventure of Nathan Drake and company. Several questions have been asked, but the amount of answers you'll get in Uncharted 3 will surprise you.
Before I go any further, though, I need to stress that this is a spoiler-free review. I personally would hate to know the finer details of the game before sitting down to play, and, thankfully, we know enough already without spoiling the overall flow of the story. And what an epic story it is!
Drake is on the trail to find Atlantis in the Sands, the lost city of Ubar, Iram of the Pillars. Of course, it wouldn't really be an Uncharted game if Drake didn't also bring someone diabolical along for the ride, even if only inadvertently; this time aorund we have Katherine Marlowe. She has interest in and history with both Drake and the ring he's worn around his neck for the past two adventures (which was the subject of our own conspiracy piece.) With the amount of destruction and seemingly inescapable death traps we've seen in the trailers, it's safe to say that Nate goes through a lot in this adventure.
Now, with Nathan Drake constantly being compared to Indiana Jones, one question to ask is whether Uncharted 3 feels more like Raiders of the Lost Ark or Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Surely it's not Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but it's not Raiders of the Lost Ark either. Instead, Drake's Deception brings Nate beyond the Indiana Jones comparisons. Nate is more mature—despite his actions in a few places—and the story is on a scale that even Raiders would have trouble contending with. Of course, it still does that one thing that all Indiana Jones movies are guilty of doing—putting you on the edge of your seat with anticipation, excitement, or frustration. No matter what is going on, you are waiting with bated breath for the next moment's calm to pause and reflect on what just happened.
While the pacing of the game neither falters nor hinders the experience of the game, Drake's Deception falls victim to the same later-stage-enemies syndrome of the previous two entries. Basically, enemies in the beginning are paced well and leveled out, but there's a switch somewhere near the end when the enemy numbers jump from about ten at a time to about thirty at a time. In addition to a swell in numbers, the types of enemies also stretch the boundaries of practicality.
This is probably my biggest problem with the entire series. Too often, it feels like the waves of enemies are never going to end, and after several chapters of playing loose with ammo and combat, the stark change always throws me. Speaking of the combat system, though, Naughty Dog has refined the melee combat once more to make for an incredibly enjoyable experience. While many have felt the melee system of the first two games felt a little convoluted, everything in Drake's Deception flows nearly perfectly, from straight-up one-on-one combat to multiple enemies at once, as well as special takedowns, environmental takedowns, and countering. All of these elements keep the action fresh and the gameplay near cinematic. The hallmark of the Uncharted series is that its games feel like action movies, and Naughty Dog proves once again just how well they know the PS3's outstanding capabilities of providing this experience.