Review: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PS3)
Title: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download: Single Player Component only (40 GB)
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Developer: Naughty Dog
ESRB Rating: T
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is exclusive to PlayStation 3.
The Blu-ray Disc version was used for this review.
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 239 of the podcast.
What is there that I can possibly say about the Uncharted series? It’s set the benchmark not only for adventures, but in videogames in general. Naughty Dog has continually set the bar for not only the technical stuff like visuals and audio, but also in the storytelling aspect of games. But instead of me waxing poetic here, let’s get to the review!
By the way, this review is COMPLETELY Spoiler-Free
Everything that you know of Uncharted’s gameplay is here, but it’s definitely been refined and expanded even more than what they did in Uncharted 2. In addition to all of the cool moves that Drake had at his disposal before, he can now battle multiple enemies at once, which seems very reminiscent of the battle system from Batman: Arkham Asylum, in a good way. The fights flow smoother than ever, and the controls are incredibly responsive.
Also, in those situations that you don’t want to be seen while dispatching a thug, many more stealthy moves can be performed. My favorite move is to wait at a corner while a foe approaches. When he’s close enough, you grab and swing him around, slamming his head into the wall to completely take him out of action. Along with that, Nathan’s abilities while hanging from a ledge or hiding on the other side of cover are much more variable and easy to pull-off.
In other words, your options have definitely expanded. The hand-to-hand combat especially has become a much smoother experience, and switching from gun-play to combat is seamless. Everything you know from the previous games is here, but the evolution of the controls and the additional moves takes the gameplay to a whole new level.
What really sets this game apart from the rest is definitely the story though. This is definitely the deepest story in the series, as Amy Henning takes us into the past of both Nathan and Sully, and even shows us how they met and how our new villain, Katherine Marlowe, fits into the picture. This new opponent is definitely the most devious, and you’ll grow to hate her and her mysterious lackey Talbot as he does her bidding without a shred of doubt or remorse. At times, Uncharted 3 screws with your head and makes you doubt what you think you already know. The story takes a good number of twists and turns throughout, but you’ll always find out “why” eventually.
I finished the story about a week ago, and even now as I write this review, I think back to some of the more jarring events. I audibly yelled “No!” more than a few times, and with the help of the engaging visuals and gameplay, I was pulled in to the entire experience right away. I commend the team for making the story work as well as it does. Usually with something as engrossing yet epic in scope, the way is usually lost somewhere, but not in this case. Uncharted 3 stays the course the whole way through, and it’s damned impressive.
For those who thought that the visuals couldn’t get any better, think again. As expected, Uncharted 3 is stunning! Textures are more detailed, lighting is more natural and yet more realistic. The locations are bigger and lit even more impressively than ever, and the desert, oh the desert. The size and scope of every location you visit throughout the story is truly epic, and it almost seems like the team at Naughty Dog jut kept trying to one-up each previous level in the game. Remember the “Train Level” from Uncharted 2? Essentially every section in Uncharted 3 is more than that in some way.
Beyond that, the 3D is incredibly well-done, as the game was made from beginning to end for the tech. The world envelops you with itself, as fire engulfs you, dust and debris floats in the air and clings to you from all sides, and enclosed spaces filling quickly with water makes even the bravest a claustrophobic within seconds. Use of 3D like this shows that the tech can be effective and can actually be a viable reason to buy a game. If you have a 3D-capable display, make sure that you activate the 3D and play Uncharted 3 in its entirety with it, the experience is truly awesome.
The audio is simply more of a great thing. The liberal use of any channel available on your listening apparatus will bring you completely into the experience, and the even better soundtrack (yeah, I don’t know how they improved it either) is something to truly behold. The music in every situation is the perfect. It’s as much a supporting character in the game as Elena or Sully. Truly superb.
Chances are, if you have a Subway near to where you live, you already know how great the competitive multiplayer is (if you liked it in Uncharted 2, you’ll love it in Uncharted 3.) So, I’m going to skip that part here. Luckily, and this is a rarity to be sure, I was able to try the cooperative portion of the multiplayer, and man did I have a blast!
First, there’s the requisite version of “Hoard Mode,” and for fans of that game type, you’re going to love it. Then, there’s a co-op type that pits you against others out there on the PSN, and unfortunately, my time was too limited to try. But the story-based co-op is quite enjoyable. Like in Uncharted 2, the co-op runs adjacent to the happenings of the story in the Single-Player, I will warn you though, PLAY THE SINGLE-PLAYER FIRST! There are definite spoilers in the co-op, and it’d be an absolute shame to ruin that story. The co-op is played with yourself and two others, in scenario-based missions, the mechanics employed force you to play as a team. If someone wants to be a lone-wolf, failure is absolute. The set-pieces are all from locations in the single-player mode. Teamwork is the only thing on the menu, and you’re going to need it at all times to survive. It works wonderfully at all times on the PSN, and voice is well done. Color me impressed.
What more can I say? Even with the high expectations that I had, Naughty Dog found a way to far exceed them. The one aspect of this game that I keep going back to though is the story. It’s an awesome representation of how a pulp comic would be written, but at the same time, the experience is even more interactive than before. Tying-in the past and especially digging deeper into Drake and Sully’s beginnings were just the frosting on the gravy. We now see how devious Naughty Dog and SCEA were when they showed us what I thought was too much at events like GDC, E3, and even on these theater tours. What you’ll realize while you’re playing those familiar sections is that they were really screwing with our heads and doing each of us a favor by not actually spoiling any story elements.
So yeah, buy this game, take your time through the story, then play the hell out of the multiplayer. Uncharted 3 is fantastic, but in even more ways than you probably expected it to be.
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