Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception Review
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
North American Release Date: 11/1/2011
European Release Date: 11/2/2011
Trophies: Yes, 1 | 1 | 10 | 43
Drake's Deception is the third entry in the Uncharted series and follows a new adventure dealing with the life and times of Francis Drake. This time Nathan is tracking down what happened during the 6 months of unaccounted time during Drake's journey, and what he finds will take him on a quest to find the fabled "Atlantis of the Sands" and the richest city in ancient Arabia.
Uncharted 3's gameplay is your standard cover-based, third person shooter fare. Where Uncharted 3 finds its original niche is in its mix of platforming and the fact that these two elements blend together, so you will quickly move from combat to platforming and back. Often times they will overlap as well, so you may have to engage enemies on a cliff as you are hanging from it.
Most Uncharted fans will find UC3 to be right at home, once again Naughty Dog's focus was on improving and perfecting the existing formula. The big improvement in UC3 was in melee. Melee in previous titles was mostly about tapping or and occasionally countering with , and while the general control scheme hasn't changed, the melee battles have become more contextual. When Drake engages in combat it just feels more natural, Drake may smash the face of a baddie on a bar table or throw them up against the wall you are near. By that same token your enemies will do the same, Drake may get hit with a nearby chair or pushed over a table. It makes the entire game feel more natural rather than the 'Oh, we are punching each-other now.'
The platforming is still not perfect in UC3. While its not common by any means, Drake will occasionally miss a jump for no discernible reason. Some sections require some key placement of Drake, moving up or down a stair forbids you from jumping left or right for no real reason. That all being said, it is improved over UC2. Platforming feels more sensible within the environment and tends to feel more integral to the overall game.
The aiming and combat is improved, even if it takes some fine-tuning at the start
The gunfighting, as always, is great. Combat is intuitive and very put together. Of particular note is how bullet mechanics work in UC3. Naughty Dog put alot of thought into the relation and trajectory of the bullet relative to the reticule and gone are some of the awkward angles of previous games, of course added to that is a deeper sensitivity system. I have mixed feelings about this, while ultimately its not a bad thing, it requires a bit of fine-tuning. Most players will have to mess with the sensitivity a bit before they find the correct balance.
Ultimately though Uncharted's gameplay is flawlessly executed and is perfect in its own simplicity. Very few games have this type of adrenaline-embracing, smile-producing shooty fun.
Let’s be honest, this is the real reason anyone should pick up this game. I am happy to say you won't be disappointed either. Drake's Deception is a somewhat risky tale for Naughty Dog, but the end result is still something all parties should be proud of and is another example of why Amy Hennig is right there with the best writers in the business. Drake's Deception takes on the character of Drake in a new way, unlike Fortune which really introduced everyone and Among Thieves which added alot of depth to Drake and the universe, Drake's Deception focuses on the relationship of Sully and Drake.
The story opens up with one of their heists in an effort to hit it rich by finding the 'Atlantis of the Sands' and a city in the desert made of gold. Drake has found out that the famous ring he wears around his neck has become a key to this puzzle and the villain of the story: Marlowe, and her sidekick Talbot are trading for it. The trade, in typical Drake fashion, goes awry and sets the tone for the entire story as Drake has a flashback after being shot back to when he and Sully met 20 years ago. From that point forward the two become the focal point of the adventure as they travel the globe retracing the steps of Drake and, with varying levels of success, trying to stay ahead of Marlowe and Talbot.
Many staple characters of the Uncharted universe appear as supporting character, and all-in-all they are all wonderfully executed. Hennig really has a grasp on how to make deep character interactions and make the characters feel human. Elena, the real stand-out supporting character in my eyes, is once again a wonderful compliment to Drake's somewhat immature and cocky attitude and manages to once again shine in this title. Although not as featured as she was in the previous title, she takes a huge step forward and by the end the trio of her, Drake, and Sully come full circle back to that somewhat cheeky, but loving environment we saw at the start of Drake's Fortune. Cutter is the 'new' protagonist introduced here and he was done very well, he shares many of Drake's boy-like enthusiasm toward discovery and works as a great compliment to balance Sully and Drake's work and does a great job providing another perspective as the mystery is uncovered. Unfortunately he is not in the story as much as I would like, but still a very well executed character.
The story's focus is on Drake and Sully and their de facto father/son relationship.
The story is not without some missteps. Chloe makes a return in this game, and I am not sure if it was intentional fan service or if perhaps some elements of the story were cut late in production, but I honestly can't figure out why she is there other than to be Cutter's side-kick during the mission in Syria. Unlike UC2 where she was clearly Drake's initial love interest and the representation of his slightly darker attributes, here she is stuck somewhere between a voice of reason and a hired gun, which is somewhat out of place.
The villain was very well done in this game as well, as Naughty Dog built her into the mystery of what Drake is trying to uncover. Unlike in some previous titles, here the villain has full knowledge of the end-game and is just as much trying to stop Drake from uncovering the secret as she is trying to beat him there. They ooze all the classic elements you expect from an antagonist and will suck you into the emotion of the plot by being that perfect fly in the soup, particularly as the diabolical scheme that represents the second act has a very personal tinge to it.
That's where alot of the risks and rewards from this story come from, which is somewhat weird. Where the previous title developed some of Drake's darker elements, Drake's Deception has a much darker overall theme. The villain in this one isn't out for riches and is once again looking for unlimited power. They execute their power through shadow agents and druggings, and there are several points where Drake will be drugged and you will actually be questioning what is happening. The tension only exceeds throughout the story as they further enact their plans and actually damage Drake's family in an attempt to stop him.
Much like the protagonists, the antagonists aren't without some missteps. Marlowe and Talbot are very well done, but their second act henchmen, Ramses, is not well developed, which is disappointing because he is a pretty interesting character. Much like Chloe, he just isn't in the story enough and his entrance isn't particularly well explained. There is a redemption to be had though, I really enjoyed the way Hennig handled Marlowe's exit from the story. It is very Kirk-esque as for the first time ever Drake is presented with the opportunity to save the villain or let them die.
Uncharted 3's story isn't perfect, but it is still wonderfully crafted and I was incredibly happy with how it was constructed and handled. It's a very good character tale and Hennig really proves she knows how to create characters. When the credits rolled, I definitely wanted more, and that says alot.
Uncharted 3's multiplayer is basically an upgraded version of Uncharted 2's multiplayer, and I don't mean that as a bad thing. Unlike many game companies that try to mess with something just for the sake of messing with it Naughty Dog clearly said: "Let's take what we did in UC2 and focus on making it more cohesive and more balanced." That's really the key word here: balance. UC3's multiplayer is balanced, there isn't alot of the problems that plague other games such as game-breaking perks and abilities or camping idiots that suck all the fun out of the game.
Drake's ring is the key to the puzzle here.
UC3's multiplayer is really about fast paced fighting and the way the maps and the game modes are designed you really can find success regardless of your play style. The competitive game modes are really standard fare at this point: Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, and Capture the Flag are all here and are all executed with an Uncharted 3 spin. Custom loadouts and perks all find their way as you both level up and get money for accomplishing objectives.
Where UC3's multiplayer really shines is in its Cooperative play, which features two modes: The first is both a local and online version of the story. Something that is very welcome if you ask me. The second is where the game really hits its stride: Arena. Arena is the evolution of Siege from UC2 and features objective based gameplay. You and a partner face off against continuing waves of baddies while you are tasked with various objectives. It adds new challenges because you can't inherently turtle and wait out your enemies.
I had alot of fun with UC3's multiplayer and it really is something memorable for us PS3 owners.
To be completely frank, Uncharted is absolutely amazing. Naughty Dog consistently ups its game and sets the bar for the rest of the industry when it comes to representing environments and really capturing the spirit and tone of a game. Uncharted 3 looks awesome at every turn and the attention to detail is something that really should be appreciated, not to mention the water effects in this game are the best in the entire industry.
The audio is spot on, as has come to be expected of the series. The guns sound powerful and it makes it feels like they are real weapons rather than "pew-pew" machines. The soundtrack is classic adventure and does a phenomenal job of highlighting the tone of the story.
The Rub'al Khali desert is done very well here.
Speaking of highlighting the tone, Uncharted 3 really handles the environment perfectly. I can't stress that phrase enough. Naughty Dog has some geniuses working in their environment development department because they actually craft them wonderfully around the events of the story. Everything feels real and seems to compliment the specific events at that time wonderfully, when Drake is stranded in the desert after the plane crash, the way the Rub'al Khali desert is designed heightens the feeling of loneliness and hopelessness. The way the artists handled when Drake is drugged is perfect; it really gives you the sense of not being in control and really makes you question what is actually happening. Naughty Dog, my hats off to you here.
Something else that really should be mentioned is how Uncharted 3 handles set pieces, now for those who don't know set pieces are points in the plot where it’s really about action. The events of the scenery and environment are carrying the tension of the story, very often directors and writers confuse them for plot themselves, like Michael Bay and everything Activision produces. Uncharted 3, as far as I am concerned, has that perfect balance. The set pieces are phenomenally constructed and really make you sit on the edge of your seat as you attempt to navigate Drake through the next set of obstacles, but they are spaced perfectly so that the surrounding events of the actual plot and the development of the characters create the tension carried in these scenes. I think Uncharted 3 should be commended for this, because Naughty Dog really got this one right.
Uncharted 3's platinum is familiar territory for all Uncharted fans. The differences in trophies from title to title are all cosmetic, and outside of beating the game on Crushing and killing 75 enemies in a row without dying... No trophy presents any challenge beyond sinking time into getting it.
Uncharted 3 represents perfection of a formula. Now don't read that as a bad thing because Uncharted 3 is far from a cookie cutter game, the attention to detail in character development is completely unparalleled in gaming. Few games come close to this level of depth and this type of writing is what makes Amy Hennig, Naughty Dog, and the Uncharted series so phenomenal.
That being said, I was somewhat disappointed that the villain in this Uncharted wasn't as developed as they could have been, and I felt Chole's role was completely phoned in and unnecessary. Uncharted 3 took a huge step forward in Gameplay, Multiplayer, and its Technical front. While the story is still amazing and took alot of risks, I feel Uncharted 2 is still the best game in this series. I hope the next Uncharted continues on this path though, there are some very intriguing character arcs that appear in this game, and its clear ND is really starting to come into its own here. My only suggestion: Next time don't be afraid to leave a character out.
Still though, Uncharted 3 is a must-own.
- Solidly built third person gameplay, the bar the rest of the industry should be set to. The sensitivity is so fine it needs to be adjusted at the start though.
- A phenomenally crafted character story. UC3's story goes above and beyond almost everything in the industry.
- A very well executed multiplayer.
- Naughty Dog couldn't have done a better job.
Overall: 9.5/10 Brilliant
After completing Uncharted 3, I'm left with strange and mixed feelings about the game. Was the gameplay fun, enjoyable, and action-packed? Definitely. Were the graphics and voice acting once again top-notch? Certainly. However, I feel like Uncharted 3 fails in surpassing Uncharted 2 in terms of overall greatness. The plot is intriguing, the characters are finally fully explored and fleshed out, and the ending is fittingly climactic, but the story felt weak. Characters make appearances, but most never stay long enough for them to make their presence felt. It's obvious that the focus, as far as characters go, has been turned towards exploring Nate and Sully's relationship, and that's the best part of the story. Uncharted has always been a character-driven game, but it's unfortunate that such a vast cast of characters are only introduced for a few chapters before they disappear from the story entirely.
On top of this, the campaign is short. I was able to beat the game in under ten hours, and while there's a multiplayer here, after the credits started to roll, I didn't want to go back in and play the singleplayer again. As someone who went through and played Uncharted 2's campaign four times, I was very disappointed that I couldn't get the same itch to replay Drake's Deception after the game ended. While Uncharted 3 is still a great game, and one of the best to grace the Playstation 3 this year, it fails to live up to the standards set by Among Thieves, and thus is a disappointment, albeit a small one, in my eyes.