Review – Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

 

Nathan, Elena, Chloe and Sully have all returned in the next installment in the PlayStation 3 exclusive Uncharted series. Does the game live up to the high standards set by the previous two, or does Naughty Dog Studios belong in the dog house? Read our review to find out.

 

The Uncharted series is well known for its spectacular music, memorable characters, and outstanding graphics. Add in movie style story lines with platforming and shooting and what you end up with are games that transcend the gaming experience. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception uses this same formula to create an over all experience that is rarely, if ever duplicated.

The game opens up with our hero Nathan Drake and his longtime friend and companion Victor “Sully” Sullivan in a pub in England. They are there to meet up with Talbot, a new character in the series. While negotiating a trade for Sir Francis Drake’s silver ring, they realize that Talbot is trying to buy them off with fake British notes. Never ones to be ripped off, a fight ensues which takes them to an alley out back. Talbot’s partner in crime, Charlie Cutter gets the drop on our guys and holds them at gun point until the main antagonist shows, Katherine Marlowe.

Katherine Marlowe

Through a flashback scene going back twenty years we are introduced to the key players back when Nathan was just a kid on the streets of Cartegena, Colombia and Sully and Nate hadn’t met just yet. Through the following action we learn the background history of how Nate and Sully ended up lifelong friends and how Sully took Nate under his wing.

The storyline will have you traveling across many different locales, in every type of terrain imaginable. From the foggy and wet streets of London, to a jungle in the middle of France, through Syria, and across the Rub ‘al Khali desert of the Arabian Peninsula.

Nate in the Rub 'al Khali Desert

The story almost seems too good for a video game. It truly deserves a blockbuster release at theaters nationwide. For those that have played through the previous titles, you will recognize all of the returning cast members, and the voice acting is award worthy in itself. You can feel the tension between Nate and Elena whenever they discuss things, and you just might find yourself pulling for them to reunite.

Everything that was great about the previous titles returns in all its glory. Hand-to-hand combat is back. Platforming and puzzle solving are there to make you use your brains and add depth to the adventure. Solving puzzles not only moves you from point A to point B, but it also aids in furthering the overall story line.

Globe Puzzle

Added into the adventure is a combat system that utilizes many different types of weapons with enemies that get smarter when you increase the difficulty. Weapons range from a small caliber, semi-auto handgun all the way up to an RPG. Add in grenades, automatic weapons, and sniper pistols and rifles and you end up with a vast array of firearms at your disposal. A decent cover system is also available, along with a stealth system that is easily used.

The graphics for the game are unsurpassed on any console game to date. To see Nate struggling through a vast sandy desert, forcing himself along a sandy ridge-line with sand ripples flowing down the side. The level of details is breathtaking. Night time in the Rub ‘al Khali desert, with the stars in the sky and the full moon above, is a testament to the hard work and dedication of Naughty Dog Studios to create a game that truly sets the bar graphically for the PlayStation 3.

Character animations were created using full body motion capture. This almost creates an illusion that these aren’t characters in a game, but actual actors in a movie. To see Nathan stumbling through the desert, or swimming in a body of water, is almost like seeing someone do this in real life. Add in the character detail, right down to the bulletss on Nate’s belt, and you wind up with something that’s as life like as you can get using this generation of consoles.

Nate and Elena

As with all previous Uncharted games, there are over 100 treasures to be found spread out across the entire story mode. This adds to the replayability of the game, and gives you the opportunity to enjoy all of the vast details of the Uncharted 3 world. The treasures are sometimes right in front of you, but oftentimes are off the main path, in a direction you won’t need to go to further the story. Exploring becomes necessary if you are a completionist. Once you have finished a chapter you can always revisit it through level select, so no need to try and find all of them in one go.

Once you have finished the story on the difficulty of your choice (Very easy, Easy, Normal or Hard) you’ll unlock the always punishing Crushing difficulty. Crushing is just that. The enemies seem to be smarter, have quite a few more grenades to throw at you, and never seem to miss with their weapons. You, on the other hand, take less damage to die, have less ammo available to you, and will be killed many. many, many times. Patience and cover are the keys for beating the game on Crushing.

Aim for the Head on Crushing

Also included besides the story is Co-op Mode and Multi-player mode. Co-op Mode can be played either split-screen with a friend sitting beside you, or online. In co-op you can either play adventure mode or Arena. There are 5 different co-op adventure maps to choose from and each map has its own story based adventure to complete. Co-op Arena will have you battling wave upon wave of incoming bad guys. Once you go into online co-op, these waves can also include real people if you venture into the Co-op Hunter Arena.

Online Multi-player mode consists of your standard fare for online shooters, with a few other modes thrown in for good measure. Team Deathmatch pits two teams against each other and it’s straight up war. 3 Team Deathmatch splits the teams up into three separate teams and you are tasked with taking out the other two teams. Free for All is just you against the World. No teams, just killing. Team Objective is a mix between TDM and Objective based warfare. Plunder is your standard CTF game, but instead of flags, you’ll be lugging around a heavy gold idol, that slows you down to a snails pace when carrying it.

Within the multi-player system is a series of boosters that you can unlock and purchase using in-game cash. These can help you run faster, climb faster, carry more ammo, or steady your aim among other things. In the final multi-player mode, Hard Core, all of these boosters are disabled and a level playing field is created, regardless of ones rank or boosts available to them.

The Uncharted series has been a staple for the PlayStation 3 since Nathan Drake was introduced in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune back in 2007. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves added another chapter to the saga and a great multi-player experience to an already blockbuster series.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception continues this epic franchise in spectacular fashion.

Naughty Dog Studios has outdone themselves.

10