Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Reviewed

Our Rating
out of 5.0

This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.

Nathan Drake is back in Naughty Dog’s latest epic adventure, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception!  This latest installment pits Nate and company against an old foe from his past as they race against each other to find the secret of the Iram of the Pillars, a city of unimaginable wealth, long since forgotten and buried beneath the sands of the Rub’ al Khali desert.  Along the way, Nathan and Sully’s past is explored as Nathan puts together the clues left behind by two of the greatest explorers in history; Sir Francis Drake and Thomas Edward Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia).

Naughty Dog has certainly spared no horses in creating a truly colossal game in terms of story, graphics and gameplay with Uncharted 3.  It’s truly amazing how they have managed to pack a game so full of action and yet keep the story moving along so smoothly and in such detail.  The first ten minutes of the game are a perfect example of this.  The story opens with Drake and Sully in a London bar, meeting up with a gentleman by the name of Talbot, who represents a buyer interested in the ring of Nate’s ancestor Sir Francis Drake.  As Talbot looks over the ring, Drake examines the money and determines that it’s fake.  As they attempt to walk away from the deal, Talbot orders his men to attack them.

During this fight, you’ll notice a few new things.  Primarily, you’ll notice the use of Quick Time Events during melee battle, and secondly, the use of objects in the environment.  As you attack your opponent, you’ll find that they have the ability to dodge your attacks and then counter by either throwing a punch of their own, or attempting to put you into a hold so that someone may attack you.  You in turn can either break the hold, or dodge your opponent’s attacks by pressing the appropriate button when prompted.  These scripted events are very smooth and feel very much a part of the back and forth actions that would take place in a real life brawl.  While it’s something that feels very new and fresh, the animations begin to feel a bit overused when you get about four to six hours into the game.  A little more variety in scripted events would have gone a long way in maintaining the freshness after battling your thousandth combatant.

However, one thing that definitely doesn’t feel overused is Drake’s ability to use objects in the environment against his foes.  For example, during the aforementioned bar brawl, as you’re delivering a flurry of punches, if you happen to be within reaching distance of a beer bottle, Nate will have no problem in reaching over, grabbing it, and smashing it across the face of the poor S.O.B. that decided to pick a fight with you.  While this is obviously a scripted event, it again feels very natural to the flow of the fights, and works exceptionally well.  Another event that caught my notice is with grenadiers; as you trade fisticuffs with these do-badders, Nate will sometimes grab the poor soul’s vest, yank the pin out of a grenade and kick him away.  I couldn’t help but to feel bad – though not for the fact that the sorry sod met such an unfortunate demise, but because I would let out a slightly maniacal giggle every time it happened.

Drake’s Deception very much feels the same as its predecessors in terms of gunplay and movement.  However, Naughty Dog has introduced a new feature to combat which will make many fans happy.  Now, if a bad guy decides to ruin your day with a grenade, a well-timed tap of the triangle button allows Drake to catch throw it back.  My only complaint as far as control goes is with the cover system.  Naughty Dog still needs to give it a little bit more spit and polish when it comes to covering around corners.  It seems very much hit or miss as to what corners you can cover against; many times I’ve found myself staring back at a very confused soldier who wandered into the corridor as I was struggling to lean against the corner to ambush them.  In the end, he was surprised and eventually unconscious, but I’d still like to be able to use that cool animation where Drake flails the unsuspecting grunt headfirst into the wall a bit more often.

Drake’s Deception brings some serious juice to the table in terms of graphics, environmental effects, and level design.  The levels themselves are simply massive in scale, though linear.  However, they maintain the feel of an almost open world, because of their vastness.  The shipwreck chapter captures this best, as you climb out of the side of a huge tanker and the camera pans outward to give you a sense of scale.  Drake’s body looks like an insect in comparison to this decaying behemoth, and yes, you’ve got to climb that monster.  Even more so, in the same level as you’re making your way to the objective, a rainstorm breaks out and a fully functional ocean tosses the ships about.  Yes, fully functional.

Who the hell does that?  Apparently Naughty Dog does!

Beyond that, the smoke and fire effects of the game are just absolutely stunning.  As I mentioned in my Hands On article earlier this month, these effects are true to life in detail.  As you’re making your way through a Chateau, you almost feel your skin getting hotter as the ancient abode disintegrates around you.  However, the effects are just the icing on top of this exquisitely detailed pastry that is Drake’s Deception.  Every stone appears to have been painstakingly hand-crafted for the simple purpose of causing your eyes to take in every polygon and savor it.  This is by far the best looking game of the year.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is a cinematic marvel, as it brings all of the above-mentioned elements and wraps them in a story that would rival any motion picture.  Nolan North, Richard McGonagle, and Emily Rose return to reprise their roles of Drake, Sully and Elena, respectively.  The veteran cast brings a level of chemistry to the table that (with the superb writing) really delivers a performance which captivates its audience, drawing them them deeper into the world of Nathan Drake and friends.  Four or five hours will easily go by without you knowing it, as you will find it difficult to break away.  Each scene is another turn of the page of a great novel that just can’t be put down.  Even when the story forces you to take a brief recess from the non-stop action, you can’t help but feel drawn into the tale, as it feeds you tiny, scrumptious morsels of the larger picture.

As you progress through the game, you also unlock featurettes and concept art relating to the game.  The featurettes are always an exciting piece for the true Uncharted enthusiast as they take you through the making of the game.  These featurettes contain footage of the mo-cap and voice recording sessions, as well as interviews with the actors and creators of the franchise.

Finally, there’s the multiplayer mode.  Initially I asked myself, “Why?”  After all, Uncharted 3 is a single player game.  Hell, I didn’t even bother to look at it when I played Among Thieves. However, for this review, I decided to take a look; and you will like what you see!

The mechanics behind Uncharted 3 actually work exceptionally well for a multiplayer experience.  The control scheme is pretty much the same as the single player campaign, giving you the ability to run, jump, and pummel your opponents mercilessly with your fists if you don’t feel like wasting ammo.  Furthermore, the parkour aspect really opens up the opportunity to find new and exciting ways to camp out or elude someone who’s running you down.  It also provides new and exciting ways to take down opponents who are just too slow at wall climbing.

Uncharted 3’s multiplayer sports many of the same features and functionality as other popular games such as Resistance or the Call of Duty franchise.  As you level up, certain weapons and equipment become available for your character loadouts.  Perks, or Boosters in Uncharted 3, give you certain edges that you can use over your opponents, such as faster reload times or the ability to regenerate your health faster.  Medal Kickbacks are essentially kill streak rewards received for earning medals in a match.  Furthermore, you can use in-game cash, earned by how well you perform, in order to purchase additional Boosters, Kickbacks, or even character skins.  Want to run around looking like an undead Marco Polo?  Go nuts!

Used game purchasers be warned: Uncharted 3 does require an Online Pass Code in order to play multiplayer.  So if you pick up the game pre-owned, be expected to kick in an extra $9.99 to play online matchmaking.

On top of unlocking your favorite Uncharted villains or heroes to run around in, you also have the ability to create your own custom character.  While the characters are somewhat limited in how you can make them appear, there is an enormous amount of selections that you can make with regards to apparel and whatnot.  Of course, if you don’t care for anything that they have on hand, you can always purchase additional character skins from the PlayStation Store for $0.49 each.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is more than just a game; it’s a purely interactive, cinematic masterpiece.  Naughty Dog made a good decision by believing in their team and not running to some sci-fi or fantasy novelist to create this work of art (a mistake that I’m beginning to see all too often in the games industry).  Instead, they went with a formula that works (solid writing, charismatic cast, etc.), took community feedback to heart (grenade toss backs), and have created an almost perfect game.  While there are a couple of issues of note, they are minor flaws in an otherwise flawless game.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception receives a 4.5/5.0.

Our Rating
out of 5.0

About This Post

November 9, 2011 - 9:30 am