Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception PS3 Review

November 11, 2011 by  
Filed under PlayStation 3, Features, Reviews

Publisher – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe – Developer – Naughty Dog – Genre – Action Adventure – Players – 1 – Age Rating – 16+ – Other console/handheld formats – N/A

The Uncharted series has become one of gaming’s most cinematic of franchises, often focussing on spectacle ahead of challenge and freedom and possessing a narrative and characterization that both pay homage to pulp adventure films. Some feel hemmed in by its heavily scripted and linear nature, though others enjoy it for its thrilling ride and can look past the fact that control is often being stolen away from them for the sake of dramatic effect.

To many, one of the most appealing features about Uncharted is its well written plot and likable characters, and the third iteration is once again accomplished in this regard. Many will enjoy the larger focus on Victor “Sully” Sullivan, as well as the exploration of his past with protagonist Nathan “Nate” Drake, which further delves into the two’s well executed father and son like relationship, though unfortunately some of the other supporting cast aren’t used nearly enough.

The cut scenes are some of the best, featuring wonderful performances – both vocally and physically – by all of the actors involved, whilst the characters are emotive with their expressions and, whilst hardly anything unique and not the deepest characters around, they do have a lot of charm, with their often funny dialogue and engaging relationships with one another.

The premise has Nate going on another adventure, this time attempting to uncover the lost city of Ubar, of which is said to be hidden somewhere in the vast Rub’ Al Khali Desert. As is always the case, Nate isn’t the only one seeking the city, but also an ancient Secret Society lead by one Catherine Marlowe, an icy and elderly English woman that may not have the menace of previous adversaries, but makes up for it by using devious methods to get to her enemies.

As a series now focussed on spectacle, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is a fittingly visually astounding game, with excellent animation and stunning fire, water and sand effects that must be pushing the PS3 to near breaking point.

The game begins with a bar brawl, that does a good job of displaying Nate’s expanded melee combat options. There’s a heavy emphasis on counters and context sensitive moves, allowing you to do such things as crack enemies over the skull with bottles or frying pans and kick them through windows.

The gunfights play out similarly to previous games, so it’s still very much a cover based shooter with a regenerating health mechanic, though this time around you’re able to toss grenades back, and more enemies will approach you because of the extra emphasis on melee combat.

The stealth mechanic introduced in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is intact, giving you the chance to avoid some gunfights altogether, by stealthily taking down enemies. It’s rather rudimentary, but it works, though once enemies are aware of your presence, you’re forced into a gunfight with no chance to escape and no way to reset the enemies to their previously un-alerted state, which is needlessly punishing.

There is slightly less combat this time around and a bit more of an emphasis on puzzles. They actually require some mental capacity too, and are largely well designed, though occasionally a bit vague.

Platforming is thrilling, though more to watch than it is to actually play. It doesn’t offer much in the way of challenge and, as exhilarating as it is seeing Nate desperately cling on to ledges with his fingertips, on an interactive level you’re not really having all that much involvement. It’s nearly always obvious where to go and essentially you’re just simply moving Nate from point to point, never having to execute any difficult jumps along the way. Because of all the dramatic leaps and crumbling platforms, it’s nevertheless still hard not to get caught up in the well directed action.

Like the second iteration, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is filled with big budget film like set pieces. One example has you on a sinking ship: it’s a true spectacle with procedural animation, which sees Nate realistically reacting to the dangerous, shuddering and flooded environment. Gunfights are staged on uneven ground, with stunning water effects and cover points being shaken around, dynamically changing the battlefield around you.

The online component is robust and has some nice touches, such as the fact you’re able to create your own emblem and the emblem of the leading player will appear around the map. There’s also a real Uncharted flavour, which, amongst other things, sees Capture the Flag replaced by Capture the Idol, whilst you’re also able to find treasure.

There’s also a buddy system, where in team based games you’re able to partner up with another player and are rewarded for doing so. Whenever you die, and just as long as you’re buddy isn’t engaged in combat, you’re able to respawn near them, whilst you’re able to collect treasure for them.

But in spite of such nice touches, it’s not as memorable as the single player portion and for the most part does little to stand out in a crowded genre and sticks rigidly to the framework first set out by Call of Duty, which is not to say it’s bad by any means.

It has all the usual Deathmatch (with solo and team variations) Capture the Flag and objective modes. Boosters function like perks and you’ll gain XP with just about every action you do, levelling you up and, at the same time, unlocking new content, such as characters and weapons to purchase.

There are also various co-op options. Arena is an objective based mode that has you attempting to complete various missions together, such as wiping out so many enemies or carrying treasure to a certain area. Hunters sees two teams facing off against one another, with one tasked to find treasure, whilst the other must attempt to thwart their efforts. Adventure is more closely related to the main game and features re-imagined sections of the campaign alongside levels inspired by the campaign of the second ,and the multitude of tactical possibilities makes its very enjoyable.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception possesses none of the expansive cutscenes of a Metal Gear Solid game, but its tight meeting of interaction and heavily scripted set pieces alongside its wonderful acting, characterization and plot has resulted in one of the truest definitions of an interactive film yet, as well as a truly enjoyable and thrilling videogame.