Review Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Written by Twisted Ideas


The third installment of Naughty Dog’s Uncharted franchise is finally here. Nathan Drake is back again on another Indiana Jones style adventure exploring ruins and fighting bad guys. While the gameplay has always been fairly average the spectacle, look, feel, writing and characters standout from any other game in the shooter genre. Does Uncharted 3 live up what Uncharted 2 did for the series or will this be a forgotten treasure.

You play as Nathan Drake along with his good friend Victor Sullivan are set to find the Iram of the Pillars the lost city that they believe that Sir Francis Drake discovered and kept secret from the world. The story begins in a bar in England as Drake and Sully attempt to sell Sir Francis Drake’s ring to a shady organization. The two men knowing how to have a good time cause a commotion to draw out the leader Katherine Marlowe who holds the half of key to solving Sir Francis Drake’s secret voyage with the ring being the second half.

Uncharted 3 is an adventure taking you through various locales and putting Drake in exciting and death-defying situations. Drake and Sully are the stars of this game while old favorites like Elena and Chloe make returns they take a backseat. The history behind Drake and Sully is revealed and the game shows the strength of their trust and relationship.

What made Uncharted 2 such a big step forward from its predecessor was the storytelling. The plot, the characters, set pieces and how the characters interacted were so well done it earn itself praise. Uncharted 3 has improved on this concept again by having a dynamic ever-changing story and strong interactions between characters. The game expect players to fill in the blanks only giving enough information to infer from and but not too much as the characters would know or be able to figure out the context. Metal Gear Solid a good example where Snake someone who should already know certain things has them fully explained for the sake of the player. While Drake does his fair share of explanation when describing clues and history but in context not all of the character would know and is written well to involve the characters and move the story along smoothly.

The visuals and character models and animations are stunning. The story takes you through various locals and the environments are beautiful making you want to stop and soak in the scenery. The way Drake interacts with his surroundings is something you don’t see in games often. When Drake is near a wall he will run his hands across as if not walk into it, he will bump into scenery if you run into and he will stumble over scenery. You are never in one location for too long so level design isn’t repetitive and dynamic elements gives you a unique experience. The most notable levels take place at the ocean. Waves dynamically sway boats and platforms as well as anything that isn’t nailed to the floor. As the characters travel they change clothes and as they progress through the story they Drake and Sully become dirtied and cut up.

The gameplay is what you expect from Uncharted and third person cover shooters. You get two guns, grenades, cover and baddies to shoot in the face and the climbing mechanics are unchanged. There’s a greater emphasis on puzzles. There are more puzzles and they are more cleaver and complex. The melee combat is improved taking notes from the Batman games making it more cinematic. You are put in sections where you are have to fight groups of enemies by hand. You can strike, dodge, push and toss enemies to use the environment to your advantage. These changes in gameplay breaks up the amount of shooting pacing the game better. The in-game tweaks that were unlockable in the previous games are oddly omitted. Having tweaks unlock as you completed goals and found treasures felt more rewarding than the superficial trophies. The lack of tweaks makes treasure hunting completely self-serving. Treasure hunting can be fun but is very distracting breaking the pace.

Multiplayer makes a return in Uncharted 3 and has improved around the board. When multiplayer was introduced in Uncharted 2 it wasn’t great. The multiplayer was textbook deathmatch, king of the hill, capture the flag, hoard, objectives, etc. Matches can hold up to ten players and you have your standard level up system to unlock guns, boosters, etc. One of the interesting game modes was Co-op objective as you and two teammates progressed a story-like level fighting enemies and helping each other survive and progress. The maps were appropriate sizes and required you to learn the map to find powerful weapons but some were hard to navigate due to lack of a sprint and symmetrical design. They incorporated the climbing mechanics to navigate and take down enemies but there were cheap camping spots. The multiplayer wasn’t bad but left a lot to be desired and wasn’t going to pull you away from other shooters.

Uncharted 3 refined the multiplayer and is more enjoyable. Maps have been improved in level design and some maps adding dynamic elements. Some maps start in moving vehicle sections and eventually move you to the rest of the map or in one map a sandstorm will hinder your vision. You are able to customize and change your loadouts, join a match mid-game and spawn on teammates. Power play bonuses are awarded to the losing team to help them comeback from a defecate. Kickback medals earned by performing during matches and when you collect enough you can activate your kickback bonus such as unlimited ammo for a short time or extra grenades. Co-op modes are improved and fun to play.

I played the beta earlier this year and had difficulty playing. Players have high health and the weapons you get at lower levels take too long to kill. Without knowledge of the map and where power weapons are getting kills and leveling up is hard. The dodging and covering can be an issue at times as they are the same button and you sometimes get stuck on the environment which is also an issue in the single player. I’m not great at shooters so I tend to stick to Co-op Arena which is a lot of fun. You and two teammates have to survive ten waves of NPC enemies in three different game types. This is a good way to earn money and level up and they use the same maps as the competitive modes. Co-op objective makes a return and Co-op Plunder is a 2v2 where one team is pared with NPC enemies to stop the other from stealing treasure.

Final Thoughts

Uncharted 3 hasn’t raised the bar as high as Uncharted 2 did Naughty Dog set out to tell an epic story and succeeds. The single player and multiplayer modes are well done and neither has lessened either experience. The gameplay hasn’t always been the strong point for the series it is a lot of fun and actually surprised me when I played the first Uncharted. Multiplayer is a solid experience and I haven’t had too many problems with lag or finding games. What I like about the multiplayer is that has character. Character skins aren’t all your generic soldiers or even the story characters but fun ones like walking skeletons of dead adventures or an overweight Drake. What makes Uncharted 3 great is the adventure. There’s always something happening in the story making you want to continue playing just so you can see what happens next. The game’s set pieces are intense and completely ridiculous making me think that Drake has a horseshoe up his butt but also are also a technical and visual marvel. The little things like how Drake interacts with his surroundings and how characters interact in cut-scenes add so much to the experience. I highly recommend this game to any PS3 owner even if you are not a fan of shooters because this is the type of game that just draws people in and makes me proud to own a PS3.

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