The Uncharted franchise is considered to be one of the best PlayStation 3 exclusives. With an acclaimed sequel already under its belt, Naughty Dog hopes to top even that one with the newest entry, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.
Drake’s Deception was already getting acclaimed even before its release, stemming back to the first reveal of the game in E3 2010 when we saw Drake walking away from a burning wreckage and heading into a desert. We wanted to know more: Why is he in the middle of the desert? Where is he? How in the hell did he end up in another deadly situation? As the months went by, we slowly started learning why he ended up where he did, what he got himself into, and how Sir Francis Drake fits into all of this. With all the hype and the reputation of the last two games behind it, is Uncharted 3 a worthy sequel?
Feels Like You're Really There - Uncharted is a series known for its amazing visuals and Drake’sDeception is no exception. While the first one had the player traveling through a dense jungle and scaling up the snowcapped mountains of the Himalayas in the sequel, Drake’s Deception sends Drake from the dark alleyways of London to the deserts and streets of Yemen. From the breathtaking view of the cityscape in Yemen to the vast wastes of the Rub’ al Khali, Uncharted 3 does not skimp out on the visuals. Who knew that a desert could look this good; the sand dunes, the heat waves coming off the ground, the blinding light that reflects off the sands, the movement of the dry desert winds as they blow across the landscape, its all there. The backgrounds are not the only things that look amazing. When the camera zooms in for a cutscene, the character models and facial expressions are simply stunning.
The Soundtrack of Adventure - Words can’t really describe how awesome the soundtrack to Uncharted 3 is. Once the main theme for the game starts to play, you know that you’re about to embark on a grand adventure. The composers did an outstanding job in mixing in orchestral instruments with traditional instruments that you would find in Bedouin tribes of the Middle East. The music, paired up with the visuals and settings, really help immerse the player. *SPOILER WARNING*When Drake gets tossed out of the cargo plane and into the middle of the Rub’ al Khali, the music starts. And as the music starts, the camera pans over a burning 600 mile wide wasteland. You then start to get an ominous feeling that venturing into there isn’t such a good idea.*END SPOILER* I personally think that the UC3 soundtrack could easily go up against original scores created by Grammy/Oscar heavyweights if given a chance.
Video Game or Summer Blockbuster Adventure? - While playing through Uncharted 3, my dad would pass by and just watch what was going on. After dispatching an area of goons, escaping from an obvious trap, and saying something witty, I paused the game and proceeded to save my progress when my dad said to his amazement, “Holy crap, this is a video game?!” This might bring back memories of Kevin Butler’s ‘Dear Playstation’ commercial for Uncharted 2, but let me say that when you start playing through Uncharted 3, you are no longer sitting down playing a game. You are Nathan Drake as you fight off enemies, give chase in a crowded marketplace, and traverse the desert. There are fist fights, shootouts, explosions, romance; everything that makes a great summer blockbuster adventure is in this game. And when you get done, after feeling the satisfaction of beating the game, you don’t mind picking up the controller and replaying those epic moments again and again. The graphics, gameplay, and sound all come together to make one epic adventure that will ever get old.
Putting the Action in Action/Adventure - At the end of the day, gameplay is key. You can have the most visually impressive looking game and have a great original soundtrack, but we all must remember that Uncharted 3 is a videogame. And if a videogame doesn’t control well, then you all you have is an expensive interactive story. Luckily, Uncharted 3 plays decently (for the most part, more on that in a bit) and makes improvements to combat. Melee combat got tweaked, with a semi-Quicktime Event used for counter strikes, dodges, and grapples. This makes fighting more than one guy (which is usually the case) much easier to do, as now enemies can’t come from behind and throw a quick sucker punch from out of nowhere. Stealth kills are now a bit easier to carry out without raising the attention of patrols. Blind fire from cover also has been tweaked with assault rifles like the M9 and AK getting a bigger reticule. The ability to throwing back grenades to the enemy is also greatly appreciated.
Eureka - What is great about action heroes like Indiana Jones and Nathan Drake is that they are much more than just pretty faces. Both men, despite their rugged looks, are in fact, intellectuals. Naughty Dog plays up the whole treasure hunter/archeologist vibe by putting in a variety of puzzles. The puzzles have just the right amount of challenge and difficulty to make players really dig down and think. Also, since Drake is an avid lover of history, you’ll be able to look at his notebook at the clues he has written down upon discovering the puzzle. There are really some good brain teasers within the game, some of them really made me scratch my head, and when I finally found the answer, I would go “Ahhhh, ok, I get it now!”
Drake Feels Drunk - While many compare Drake’s movements to Lara Croft’s in Tomb Raider Underworld, I’ve always had the notion that he moved more like Altair and Ezio from the Assassins’ Creed games. This makes sense since both Assassins’ Creed and Uncharted 3 used the Havok engine for their game physics. While the two assassins’ moves feel more fluid, Drake in Uncharted 3 for some reason feels less so. Granted, Drake isn’t running around rooftops exploring an open world city doing advanced parkour,but being able to vault over obstacles, push past civilians in a crowded marketplace, or even knock down objects/people during one of the chase scenes would have given Drake a much more organic feel. Combat suffers just a bit as well, even with the tweaks made. This is attributed mostly to the covering system, which needs some minor improvements, such as being able to vault over cover and automatically snapping back to cover. It may sound like I’m nitpicking, but it kind of makes sense to go back into cover once you’re on the other side of the cover.
Broken Matchmaking - As much fun as I had with it in the beta and the retail release, multiplayer is a bit on the broken side when it comes to matchmaking players. Now from my understanding, “matchmaking” is taking players that are around the same level (usually either three levels below or above) or so and having them play each other, thus creating a fair playing ground for newcomers and veterans alike, without totally destroying the newbies. Sadly this isn’t the case. As soon as I fired up multiplayer, my first match was with some players that were already at levels 20, 30 and a few 70s. Now you can chalk this up to people playing the MP hardcore, and I don’t doubt that, but you also have to take into account those who took advantage of the Subway and Sony promotion. If you recall, those who bought a 32 oz. drink with their sandwich would get early access to the full multiplayer. Not a second beta, or a demo, but the full entire MP section of the game. Although I’m not that very good when it comes to TDM, I don’t completely suck when matched up with people who are at least three levels around me. But when matched up with against a team with players that are 30-plus levels ahead of me, it kind of stops being fun.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, for a lack of a better phrase, is one hell of a roller-coaster ride. It takes the spirit of a great action adventure summer blockbuster, stirs in a (in my opinion) a Grammy-worthy soundtrack, a dash of mind bending puzzles, and polishes it with improvements to control and combat to make the game a great experience. There are some downsides, mostly with how matchmaking in multiplayer works (or doesn’t). While multiplayer is a fun distraction when you want a break from the main game, having a broken matchmaking system ruins the experience, especially when the MP for the last game was so well praised. To some people, multiplayer is all they need to enjoy a game without investing time in the main game, and I respect that. Those players are doing themselves a disservice in missing out on such a great single player experience. As for the other fault, it may sound like nitpicking, but Drake is a pretty athletic guy. He shouldn’t have trouble vaulting over objects, and moving through crowds with ease, among other things.Even with these setbacks, Uncharted 3 was a blast to play through and didn’t let up on the action till the end. If you enjoyed the last game, chances are that you will enjoy this one as well. Is Uncharted 3 a worthy entry in the series? The answer is easily yes.