Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Review

Uncharted 3

The original Uncharted was an enjoyable action/adventure game, but its sequel shattered expectations back in 2009. Now that Uncharted 3 has arrived those expectations have gone through the roof. Luckily developer Naughty Dog has delivered another action-packed thrill ride, full of incredible set pieces and varied locales. On top of that, the surprisingly great multiplayer from Uncharted 2 returns with some useful tweaks. It may not have the same spark as its predecessor, but Uncharted 3 is still one of the best games to come out all year.

Once again gamers take control of Nathan Drake as he searches for ancient artifacts – a kind of modern-day Indiana Jones – joined by his longtime partner and best friend Victor “Sully” Sullivan. Uncharted 3 does a great job of expanding on the relationship between these two characters. Introduced in this entry is Katherine Marlowe, a villainous Englishwoman with ties to Drake and Sully’s past. Antagonists in the Uncharted franchise have often been stereotypical mercenaries and warlords, but Marlowe comes off as a more human character with evil intentions. This subtle difference represents a noticeable improvement in storytelling that makes Drake’s journey that much more exciting. Marlowe’s history with the protagonists also leads to a core question: what exactly is Nathan Drake trying to prove? Characters begin to second guess his motives, resulting in a refreshing new narrative perspective.

Naughty Dog has always been great at telling a story, but this isn’t a movie we’re talking about. Uncharted 3 is also a lot of fun to play, due in large part to the well-established formula of combat, platforming, and puzzle solving. The cover-based shooting system remains largely unchanged, but this time around the AI seems a lot more aggressive. Enemies will often try to flank and surround the player, resulting in plenty of challenging encounters. Those of you who plan on beating the game on the crushing difficulty: good luck.

Uncharted 3

Combat isn’t all about shooting in Uncharted 3. The melee system has been greatly improved, making it a much more viable option. This is emphasized in the early portions of the game where players are shown how they can interact with the environment. Want to knock out an enemy with a nearby beer bottle? Go ahead! The game can also be played stealthily in certain spots just like Uncharted 2, which should please those who enjoy sneaking around before choking out enemies.

Puzzles have undergone some slight alterations as well. In past entries they felt like nothing more than brief pauses between the action, but now they are more involved and require a bit of effort. Taking that into account along with the revamped melee system and a heavier reliance on chase sequences, Uncharted 3 feels like a more evenly paced game. Some people complained that the shootouts in Uncharted 2 often wore out their welcome, but that isn’t the case this time around. The way the game shifts back and forth between combat, platforming, and puzzle solving is effective and prevents any thoughts of tediousness and repetition from creeping in.

All of these gameplay mechanics are worth noting, but if you ask anyone about Uncharted 2 they’ll talk about the train level, or the collapsing building… or any of the larger-than-life set pieces that made that game so groundbreaking. Going into any detail would spoil the surprise, but Uncharted 3 has its fair share of these moments. There might not be as many and they don’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor, but there’s still no other series out there that executes these intense and thrilling moments like the Uncharted franchise does.

The single-player campaign is Uncharted 3‘s main attraction, but there are plenty of multiplayer options for the competitive gamers out there. Standard modes such as team deathmatch and plunder return along with the wealth of customization options first introduced in Uncharted 2. Numerous ability boosters, weapon modifications, and character skins have been added to reward players who spend hours upon hours online. A few new features have been added as well, including cinematic moments that attempt to mimic the campaign. One example is the airstrip map, where one team starts on a cargo plane while the other chases it down in moving vehicles. These unique moments stand out and never get old. Also introduced for the first time are power plays that assist teams losing by a sizable margin. This gives the losing team an advantage such as double damage or being able to see every enemy on the map. It may sound cheap initially, but it actually keeps matches more competitive and in turn more interesting.

Uncharted 3

Fans of cooperative multiplayer also have a lot to look forward to. Three modes are included: adventure, arena, and hunter. Adventure mode is made up of five alternate story missions that take influence from all three Uncharted titles. Arena mode pits players against waves and waves of enemies as they try to survive and complete objectives. Hunter mode is the one new addition and arguably the best of the three. Two teams of two face off against each other as one team tries to stop the other from completing objectives. The objective team must also deal with AI enemies, making things even more difficult. This uncommon mix of cooperative and competitive multiplayer is surprisingly effective and lends itself to plenty of replay value. Uncharted 3 is a legitimately great multiplayer game, not just a nice compliment to the single-player campaign.

The Uncharted franchise has always demonstrated the technical prowess of the PlayStation 3 and Uncharted 3 is no exception. The animations are incredibly life-like and this newest entry shows off astounding new water physics. The art direction also makes the visuals a joy to behold as Nathan Drake’s adventure takes him all across the globe. Players will visit the backstreets of London, an ancient château in France, and a vast, endless desert in Yemen. Each of these environments are wonderfully detailed with impressive structures, perfect lighting, and rich color palettes. The audio is just as fantastic, with all of the series’ voice actors returning in their regular roles. Actress Rosalind Ayres in particular does a great job voicing the new villain Katherine Marlowe. The soundtrack is also top notch and would fit well in any big-name action film. Boiling it all down to a single point, Uncharted 3 is as good as it gets when it comes to presentation in video games.

The jump in quality from Uncharted to Uncharted 2 was unbelievable. Uncharted 3 doesn’t match that effort, but that’s the only real negative I can attribute to the third entry in the franchise. Naughty Dog has delivered another game with memorable characters, fun gameplay, superb visuals, and a more than serviceable multiplayer component. And just like that you have a serious contender for game of the year.


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Author: Anthony LaBella View all posts by
My first experience playing a video game blew me away. The fact that Super Metroid was that game certainly helped. So I like to think Samus put me on the path to video games. Well, I guess my parents buying the SNES had a little something to do with it. Ever since then my passion for video games has grown. When I found that I could put words together into a coherent sentence, videogame journalism was a natural interest. Now I spend a large majority of my time either playing video games or writing about them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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