Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Genre: Adventure, Platform
What we liked
What we didn't
One of the best games of 2011, and the amazing 3D is a fantastic addition and step forward.
From green jungles, to frozen mountains Naughty Dog have taken us around the globe following the adventures of treasure hunter Nathan Drake and his mentor Victor Sullivan as they go through one perilous adventure to another, so it isn’t anything new to find that in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, that Naughty Dog have taken us again, halfway around the world to the scorching deserts of the Rub’ al Khali in search of the ‘Atlantis of the Sands,’ Iram of the Pillars.
The world of Uncharted is one that everyone should play to discover and to see the world breathtakingly remade in a game. Naughty Dog have strived in each game to bring across beauty and capture some of the world’s most iconic locations from the lush rainforests of South America to the frozen peaks of Himalaya’s, now the world of Uncharted explores a new location, the desert but before we get there Uncharted 3 doesn’t dive head on in with the games main location, no that isn’t until much later in the game. Uncharted 3 starts off in London, England where Drake and Sully are on their way to sell Drake’s beloved ring that once belonged to Sir Frances Drake. After their mysterious buyer, Talbot, who tries to swindle our heroes they have to fight their way out, only to be stopped and confronted by the nefarious Kate Marlowe, a woman from their past. And thus their adventure begins. Now I won’t go into any further detail on the story, as like many others I play for the games of the single player experience and the story and narrative alone makes us want these games and if I go any deeper I feel that an angry mob will show up to demand my head! However I will leave you with the knowledge that Uncharted 3 is faithful to the franchise in every way and follows the same as all the other games, so prepare for one of the most cinematic experiences in gaming today.
From the story we move on to the locations and there are plenty of them! Naughty Dog has always delivered an incredibly high standard, something we have seen in all of their Uncharted games. However it is how they capture the exotic locations which captures us and drags us deeper into the game. At the very beginning, Drake and Sully are not in the jungle but walking along soggy London streets, you can instantly tell that it is in London from the black cab parked up on the side and Victorian cobbled streets that all lead down to the traditional English pub, however you don’t really appreciate the environment till a bit later when you are on a roof of a building looking across the London landscape where you can see several notable landmarks such as the 30 St. Mary Axe aka The Gherkin and London Bridge. You simply can admire the quality of work that has been put into the world that Uncharted exists in, even down to something as simple as lights moving along the road referencing a vibrant living world that isn’t just a one dimensional background. However London isn’t the most important place, in this Uncharted it feels even more like an adventure whereby we are taken to several locations throughout the game, heading to France to the chateau, the location of first videos of the game released, and how they capture the wilderness surrounding the dilapidated Chateau due to years of neglect from having no one looked after it, to the old cities in Yemen and the scorching desert of Rub’ al Khali capturing sand being swept up by the wind, not many games out today can really capture an location and something that makes you admire the work that has been done to bring it to the screen. And once again, the characters in this game (and the previous games) all feel like actors, since they are all motion captured so they are actors portrayed in a game instead of a movie. With returning fan favourite Nolan North the legend of video game voice acting, we get to see another fantastic performance from himself and everyone else on screen. However I keep looking at the character models in the game and instantly imagine who would perfectly fit them in a movie adaption of the game despite the games are the most cinematic experiences I have ever seen or played, this level of detail really brings Uncharted into its own and I hope it stays the same in future games.
Now considering Uncharted has been going for the last five years has released three games in the series and games will always have problems but they usually fix those that have plagued them for so long. This is of course referring to the game play mechanics in the games and now we all know that Uncharted is an action adventure and the one thing that has been done right is the fantastic gun and cover mechanics. From the first game they have constantly been improved upon from the shooting in the game to hiding behind cover and I believe that they have nailed it on the head perfectly. Many games have cover based shooting, but I feel that Uncharted has got it spot on when hiding behind a wall, a cart or even hanging from a ledge the gun play is simple a masterpiece in its field. However that was not the game’s biggest improvement, it was the hand-to-hand combat mechanics that really shine in this game and you will notice it from the very start when you get into a fight at the pub (in the game not in real life!) In previous games fighting was there but it was difficult to manoeuvre that was unless you got the first strike, now Naughty Dog have gone for the whole Batman style of flowing combat, with effective countering you can easily avoid taking a punch from the enemy, from grabbing an enemy or being grabbed there are ways of escape and one button combat you can now string a series of punches one after the other, you can now win a fight with ease without any trouble.
However every game does have its flaws and Uncharted isn’t a master class although it is damn well one of the best games of the year, some parts just don’t quite live up to Uncharted. The biggest disappointment was the stealth in the game. Now in the first Uncharted it was poor but not terrible, the second game it was good but not perfect, in this, the third game, it has gone back to poor again. Now I am not the most stealthy of people when it comes to games, I like to shoot, kill and maim, but in Uncharted it feels weighty and clumsy, something I didn’t feel in the first game and I couldn’t get past a stealthy moment in the game without getting caught which became highly annoying when repeating the same moment again and again. This leads me onto much next down side, Naughty Dog still haven’t grasped the understanding of the ‘difficulty curve!’ There are several moments in the game where you the player will die repeatedly and have to repeat the same moment again and again. It won’t be because your clumsy or did a mistake but because it is so unfair! These points even aren’t at the end of a chapter, the ending of the game but random moments when you get several enemies, and then there is just you, Drake, surrounded and being pounded and when you do finally win, because you will it just takes time, then you will breathe a sigh of relief thinking, thank god that is over because the next part of the game you fly through it without any issues.
And lastly I would just like to observe something about the game, it is not a criticism. Now Uncharted will have another game, and we will see the return of Drake and he will have another adventure, however, Naughty Dog need to go back to the drawing board when it comes to the story structure. You may be wondering what I am talking about, well Uncharted 3 is the same story again as the last two. Drake and Sully are out to find a treasure, they meet the bad guys who threaten them with their lives and then they still go after the booty, and along the way they meet Elena and Chloe and several other characters good or bad and then the ending which usually has something to do with a catastrophic event that will affect the world, it is quite frankly the same story again just with new villains, a new goal and new locations. That is all well and good, but even the best movies need to change things up, however it wasn’t the whole game, the last twenty percent of the game really came into its own, it was however far too late to change what I felt could of been better.
Finally I would like to touch on the other options available on the game and like the previous game they do have a multiplayer option where you can play as rival treasure hunters, or the evil organisation/pirates and take part in several multiplayer modes like Team Deathmatch. Its structured well, similar to that of Call of Duty with a tad more customization on you character with plenty of unlocks to collect in game as well along with the ability to incorporate a lot the games mechanics like hanging or hiding behind cover to shooting and the free running and wall climbing. It is a solid multiplayer that really works well with the Uncharted franchise that doesn’t drag anything away from the single player experience.
Overall Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is hands down one of the best games of 2011. The story (despite being familiar), and the improved gaming mechanics (even with the exception of the stealth) is fantastic. If you own a Playstation 3 or you a thinking of a reason to get one, then look no further than these games from Naughty Dog. They simply capture the world in ways that few games have and the stories alone will keep you at the edge of your seat. Let us all hope we get to see Drake, Elena, Victor, Chloe and Cutter sooner rather than later. Along with a hefty amount of treasures to collect in the main game, and a very well structured multiplayer and co-op missions thrown in, Uncharted 3 has plenty to occupy and satisfy the most hardcore gamer for hours.