Questions & Answers
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.
These capabilities shine probably brightest in the graphics department. While the first entry was impressive and astounding when it first released—hell, it still blows several other games out of the water—the second title was capable of raising that bar and making a game that would rival most Hollywood features. With Uncharted 3, the bar is raised to a level I personally have only seen in big 100-million-dollar-budget films. Naughty Dog has brought a new layer of refinement to the series with the sheer level of detail in Drake’s Deception. While I was impressed with the visuals of the trailers and had incredible hopes of graphical prowess, the full game managed to actually shock me to a near standstill.
I know a lot of people keep saying they want a live-action Uncharted movie, but after looking at this game, I say let’s have an all-CGI movie and keep the original voice actors in the same roles we know them for. In fact, why do we have to have a movie at all? Why not just another game? Especially when the current cast is so phenomenal.
And speaking of voice acting, the performances in Drake’s Deception are top-notch and some of the best in the industry. Even the new additions and the smaller roles are all delivered perfectly.
Uncharted 3’s multiplayer is fairly similar to Uncharted 2’s though with some tweaks and additions. Personally, I find myself enjoying Uncharted 3’s multiplayer more than I ever did with Uncharted 2. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there feels like an easier entry point for people that are only casual online gamers. This small thing definitely opens Uncharted up to more people. The other thing is that the chaos is constant, and yet not as rage-inducing as other online gameplay experiences. This is not to say you won’t have a few. After all, at the time of this writing there is a balance issue with matchmaking: players who are level 1 will potentially be placed with level 35 combatants. While this is not an extreme issue, it can turn some newer players off. Other than this one thing, adding new maps, new characters, and an even higher level of fun, the multiplayer aspect of Uncharted 3 also exceeds expectations. It even has local splitscreen co-op, a true lost treasure.
Sometimes it’s hard to wrap up a review for a blockbuster title. At other times, it is so easy that it flows right off the fingertips. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is something of a special case. It doesn’t fall into either of those categories and it doesn’t fit in the middle. Instead, it creates its own flow. Too often the series has been compared to Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider, but I think it’s time to stop comparing this wondrous edge-of-your-seat adventure to icons of a different caliber. The pacing, storytelling, drama, and comedy roll together to give one of the most remarkably cinematic experience in gaming today. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception simply raises a bar that didn’t even need to be raised. But now that it has, we will never want to go back.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 5.0 Graphics
There are moments when the graphics upstage everything else in the game. 4.8 Control
The controls have once again been refined, though there are still occasional frustrations. 4.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
These types of voice acting performances and musical scores are one of the many reasons I love gaming. 4.8 Play Value
Solid campaign and a refined online gameplay experience prove once more why so many have become fans of Nathan Drake and his adventures. 4.9 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best