Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Please wait. This review will begin after this short cinematic... It's the mentality many will be left with in Naughty Dog's latest adventure. Drake's Deception is the third major outing for Nathan Drake on Playstation 3, and their hard work to perfect the ultimate blend of movie action and cinematic gameplay has led to a truly beautiful game, but one that can only be enjoyed if you play strictly by the game's rules. Wander off course, and you'll be sharply pulled back onto the game's roller coaster rails to enjoy the thrills you're supposed to be experiencing. With strings attached, what does this mean for the third chapter in the Uncharted story?

Uncharted 3

Before getting bogged down in the details, it's worth a quick overview of the game's purpose. Drake is up against an old rival in search of, as expected, a mysterious artefact, and one that has driven him since he was a child. It's the first game that really explores the history behind Nathan Drake, and really helps to flesh out some of the relationships the character has. There's also new ones to appreciate, with both Chloe and Elena returning for Drake's Deception, as well as a new character with a similar flare for treasure hunting and puzzle solving. The cast has always been a highlight of the series, and Uncharted regulars like Claudia Black and Nolan North are there to give the usual stand-out performances, setting Uncharted apart from the generic lows of Terminator Salvation and the over-acted spatulas seen in Heavenly Sword. As always, the Uncharted game's are driven by solid storytelling and a superb central cast leading you through each turn.

Though it may only last eight hours or so, the story is highly entertaining, and the adventure you become part of is truly outstanding in the world of gaming, despite some conspicuous under-use of certain characters. Sadly, the story is so perfectly timed and acted out that this is where the problems with the game begin. This isn't a problem that will affect every gamer, since it depends entirely on the way you approach your gaming, but for many, the boundaries of the game will make you feel highly claustrophobic. On exiting the caves at the beginning of an Elder Scrolls game like Oblivion or SKyrim, you are given a hint as to where you could head. Some gamers will go straight there, while others will explore every other direction first before finally agreeing to try out the suggested direction. In Uncharted, there simply is no option to exhibit such freedom. If the game says to head for a particular statue or passage, you'd better go there, or you'll be greeted by invisible walls or jumps that, despite appearing tiny in comparison to the massive leaps performed as part of the main storyling, simply aren't something Drake can even contemplate.

Uncharted 3

It's oddly disjoint with the fact that the game scatters treasures throughout the adventure, suggesting you should explore every nook and cranny for little gems. The problem is that you'll undoubtedly spot an area you inexplicably can't reach, and miss one that you could, simply because you'd made the assumption that the game wouldn't let you go there. It's quite frustrating, and odd that so many trophies would be devoted to highlighting an inadequacy of the game. Another involves rolling reloads. While the technique might seem quite cool, featuring an excellent animation of Drake rolling and picking up ammo at the same time, the fact that both roll and take cover use the same button mean that you're forced into daft rolls for a trophy, only to find Drake leaping for cover when you least expect it. Since the trophies are only annoying and not difficult, why not take the usual route of awarding trophies for individual chapter completion as opposed to silly stuff like grenade throwbacks?

Further issues exist for the sake of cinematography. On one occasion, Drake simply couldn't manage a sideways jump from one rail to another, because the camera was busy zooming out and in to give an excellent sense of scale. It was cinematically excellent, but nonsensical that all movement was stopped until the cinematic completed. A final complaint in that department resulted from a stealth section where the game clearly expected the player to make a mistake and get spotted. Successfully navigating the entire area without being spotted will leave Drake running around with nothing to do. The only way to solve the issue is to randomly fire into the air to attract attention, to then allow Drake to fight the reserve guard, subsequently unlocking the next step in the adventure. Bonkers!

Uncharted 3

So much negativity isn't fair for such a good game though. Despite the total lack of freedom, Uncharted 3 is an incredible experience if you simply go with the flow and enjoy things as they happen. Abiding by the rules of Uncharted 3, you're certain to have one of the best 8-hour adventures on PS3, with cinematic amazingness, incredible beauty, moments of comedy, a gripping adventure and an enjoyable conclusion to the trilogy. Slip the gearstick into neutral, sit back and enjoy Drake's amusing comments, Chloe and Elena's gentle jibes, Cutter's endearing protests and Sully's unintentional innuendo; the game is a highly interactive film, and you shouldn't try to watch bits of a film in the wrong order (unless you're working out how Momento unfolds).

As mentioned, Uncharted is a true visual spectacle, with fantastic character animations, beautiful cities, exquisite water effects and all-new sandy deserts that give a true sense of magnificent desolation and utter despair in the face of miles and miles of unending sand. Moments like the desert scene are also used expertly to pace the game, with such interludes neatly breaking up sections of intense combat. It's actually very noticeable, the effort that Naughty Dog have gone to. In the first four chapters, you'll fire little more than a handful of shots, with much of the intense fighting left for distinct phases later in the game.

Uncharted 3

The underlying mechanics of the game seem largely unaltered from previous Uncharted titles, although the shooting, oddly, seems a little less sharp. Still, the third-person perspective is used to good effect, with enjoyable leaping and exploration combined nicely with the shooting sections. It's rare to encounter any problems with either section, since the majority of exploration routes are well marked, while the combat sections usually offer sufficient cover to allow steady progression. Every so often, there'll be a piece of scenery that feels a little awkward to traverse, but it's quite rare, and usually only stems from intricate visual design not quite being matched by the dynamic muscle. The mechanics do carry across seamlessly to the multiplayer though, with cooperative and competitive missions returning with offline and online components for Uncharted 3. It's possible that the multiplayer focus is exactly the thing that took the developer's attention away from single-player greatness, but since Uncharted 2 managed to succeed in both areas, you'd hope that Uncharted 3 would do the same. For those that want it, the multiplayer is there and ready to explore, but the competitive arena might not have the power to distract people from the Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 servers this Christmas.

It does however, go without saying that the audio in the game is superb. The score is brilliant, with the famous Drake's theme continuing as the series musical core, but all aspects of the music and sound effects are top notch. The voice work is even more outstanding, and really elevates the game to a whole new level of entertainment. The only glitch observed occurred only twice in two complete playthroughs, and involved a total loss of sound for less than a second, before everything kicked back in again. An odd one, but sadly worthy of note. The title is considerably less ambitious than a game like Skyrim, and so technical faults should be far less for such a safe, testable game. It really is nitpicking though, since the overall sound package is so incredible.

Uncharted 3

Despite a lot of negativity aimed at the game, Uncharted 3 is still a magnificent addition to the PS3 line up. The disappointment is perhaps linked to the fact that an almost-impossible standard was set by Uncharted 2, which arguably remains the series peak, and the comparitive lack of freedom when games like Skyrim are released in the same month. If you're willing to go with the flow, to enjoy the game as the developers intended, you might never experience a single one of the invisible walls or glitches mentioned above, making the game a near-perfect experience, reflected by high scores on a lot of websites. For those that like to scurry away from the beaten path, the road through Drake's Deception might not be so smooth, and the teething issues may take the edge off Drake's perfect sheen. Either way, viewed as a complete series of games, the Uncharted trilogy is perhaps the strongest on PS3, or any current console, and the fan base for Drake's adventures will only grow with this latest outing.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Sony

Developer:

Naughty Dog

Players:

1

Online:

2-10

Release:

2011-11-02

Trophies:

55

Review summary

Gameplay:

Cinematic stuff, but linear walls are too frequent

Graphics:

Stunning throughout, literally amazing

Sound:

Brilliant voice work and top music

Lastability:

Replay value and great enjoyment

8.9

Supernova

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Unlike the other soldiers he had no wounds at all. The Sergeant refused any kind of medical examination instead insisting on catching up with the rest of the unit. If the Sergeant was in fact Nathan Hale then he remains the only known survivor to wake up after being infected.