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Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception Review


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On 11/04/2011 at 11:36 PM by Nick DiMola

Yet another stunning achievement for Naughty Dog and Sony.
RECOMMENDATION:

For everyone, especially fans of movies like Indiana Jones.

If Uncharted 3 has proved one thing to me, it's that Naughty Dog is unbelievably adept at delineating an openly interactive experience. Whether you're chasing down an opponent through back alleys and across rooftops or searching for a hidden switch in some decrepit structure, Naughty Dog knows exactly how to direct your eye and smooth out all of the typical bumps associated with navigating a 3D space. And all of this is amidst stunning and grandiose locales, which are part of an amazing and intriguing story. Naughty Dog shows unbelievable mastery in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception that's unparalleled in this day and age.

I thought that after Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, other developers would be taking notes and incorporating the many tactics showcased there into their latest AAA, story-driven title. But alas, Uncharted 3 has arrived and nothing of the sort has been done. Naughty Dog has seen fit to not rest on their laurels and continue to push this unique series further with a slew of improvements.

Unlike Uncharted 2, it's not very easy to explain or showcase just what has changed this time around. It's all very subtle, mostly because the changes seek to increase immersion. Things like controls are vastly improved, with very few issues ever hindering your experience. Even Uncharted 2 suffered from the occasional control glitch, which was noticeable enough to mention when discussing the game. Along the way, Uncharted 3 lends a helping hand to players; if you perform a jump a little crooked, have no fear, it's not going to stop or slow you down. Of course, the game isn't totally auto-correcting you, you will fail. But it's forgiving enough to keep you in the experience. This is crucial to maintaining immersion.

Most importantly, the gunplay, exploration, and platforming have struck a much more amicable balance. At least for the first three quarters of the game your enemy confrontations will rarely be overwhelming and they always feel fitting for the situation. You don't feel like there's some monster closet out there spewing enemies forth just because you set foot into whatever zone the enemies patrol. As such, the experience moves along well as you progress from task to task always pushing the story forward.

A much greater focus has been placed on stealth this time around, encouraging you to stay out of dodge and pick off enemies one by one in an effort to avoid firefights that would hinder your forward momentum. The melee capabilities have been similarly upgraded, now playing out more akin to Assassin's Creed 2. This makes it easier to take on multiple foes at the same time, conserve ammo, and it provides an opportunity for players to vary their own experience.

As has become the usual, the story and settings are equally amazing, sucking players in from the very first scene of the game. Just like Indiana Jones - a series Uncharted clearly takes influence from - you even get to visit Nathan Drake's past. It's an intriguing segment that sets the stage for the game, Nate's character, and his relationship with Sully. If you've seen The Last Crusade, this should sound pretty familiar. As a matter of fact, the item Nate seeks as a child is the same item you're after at the beginning of Uncharted 3.

Another venture of Sir Francis Drake becomes the centerpiece of the story, leaving Nate, Sully, Chloe, Cutter, and Elena all in pursuit of "The Atlantis of the Sands." A hidden chalet in France, a Syrian citadel, the streets of Yemen, the Rub 'al Khali Desert, and even a short trip on a cruise ship are a few of the locales you'll encounter along the way, and each is more stunning than the last. Almost all of them house a high intensity segment, exploration, and some tucked away secret that will keep you on the hook to see what's next.

As mentioned earlier, the game's pacing and variety in tasks is expertly balanced for the first three quarters of the game. However, towards the end, it reverts to the roots of the series, focusing heavily on consistent firefights with many enemies. None of the fights are particularly bad; they are all set in interesting environments, forcing you to traverse the landscape to both find cover and reach critical vantage points. They just break the pacing of the game, as well as the perfect immersion. This is due in large part to the difficulty spiking during these encounters, requiring multiple attempts to succeed.

A nitpick, but when engaging in melee, it can be hard to break away from the encounter and one-hit kill snipers can easily target and dispatch you. The heavily armored enemies are easily and safely defeated in a hand-to-hand fight, but it can be time consuming. Toward the end of the game, it always seemed that a sniper would pop out and shoot you after engaging the armored enemy, resulting in death and a restart of that entire level segment. Because the rest of the game encourages taking your enemies on bare knuckled, it was a hard habit to break toward the end of the game.

If there's one thing I can't deny, it's that the game is gripping from beginning to end, despite some of its shortcomings in the twilight hours. In many ways it's a better experience than Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, but it's not quite as grandiose. This means very little when the game is already larger than life – making it especially hard to convey this as a fault. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is an unequivocal success and every PlayStation 3 owner owes it to themselves to give it a shot. Like its predecessor, it's one of the most memorable games of this generation.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Patrick Kijek Contributing Writer

11/04/2011 at 11:45 PM

I'm so glad that they haven't used up all of their ideas and came through with this one. Even though I'm sure the single player will be the best thing since the second installment, I'm actually more excited for the multiplayer. It seemed like they've fixed most of the connection issues from the second one during my time with the beta, and maybe it won't reset my stats this time, either!

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

11/05/2011 at 12:28 AM

Sounds good. It was a must buy for me before, but now I'm even more pumped. I just love how engrossing the story is for the series, and glad to know this one is right up there with the rest.

Mike Wall Staff Alumnus

11/05/2011 at 01:36 PM

Just started playing this game this week, Uncharted is by far one of my favorite single player experiences. This game along with Bioshock just know how to tell stories through games on another level than most other developers.

Nick DiMola Director

11/06/2011 at 10:30 AM

You'll have to let me know what you think, Mike. I thought it was about on equal ground with Uncharted 2, all things considered.

youngskeletor

11/06/2011 at 06:15 PM

My only gripe with this game would be that there seems to be only two character models for the "agents". This was glaringly evident by the time I made it through the london underground, having fought through droves of the same guy with or without hair.

Also, the "grabbers" in co-op. PISS ME OFF.

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