Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Review
Game: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Available on: PlayStation 3 only
When Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was released, gamers and critics were united in praise for what Naughty Dog had achieved – in places the title needed tweaking, and with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, it seemed that they had eclipsed themselves and just about every other developer out there. If gaming perfection is indeed a possibility, you’d be hard pushed to find a closer definition than Uncharted 2, so it is with enormous fanfare that Drake’s Deception is released, with gamers everywhere wondering if this incredible feat can be achieved once more. Can the unthinkable happen? Can Naughty Dog top themselves again?
This review contains no plot spoilers.
STORY: By now, Naughty Dog have cemented their place as storytellers as well as developers. With the Uncharted games compared favourably to big-budget films and with the incredible cinematic wonder on-screen at any given moment, it’s not hard to see why they are regarded so highly. This time around we see Drake (as usual) on the hunt for treasure, trying to live up to his namesake Sir Francis Drake and dragging his chums along with him. If you have played Uncharted 2: Among Thieves you’ll be familiar with how most Uncharted games play out, as Drake’s Deception doesn’t differ too far from the formula that has been honed to near perfection with the titles that precede it.
A big part of the Uncharted games is the banter that goes on between the characters on screen. Drake and Sully are long-time friends, so have in-jokes and verbally spar throughout the game. Somehow they have outdone themselves again, and you’ll be laughing at the dialogue throughout. The story is engaging, emotional, touching and in all honesty, you won’t want it to end. The comparisons to cinema are never stronger than they are to Drake’s Deception and you will adore every moment.
GRAPHICS: Every ounce of power in the PlayStation 3 is being used here, and with Uncharted 3, Naughty Dog almost prove single-handedly that there is no rush for a next-generation of consoles. The attention to detail is simply astonishing, with “For Sale” signs that are of no consequence rendered as though they were of key importance in the story.
The vistas and backgrounds are breathtaking, so much so that you can lose yourself just staring at them. The sheer scale of the set-pieces, and direction of key moments is second to none and some moments towards the half-way point (and nearer the end) are some of the most incredible visuals ever seen in a game, whether it be water or sand, indoors or outdoors – the love and attention on show is akin to that of a parent helping their child to walk for the first time.
SOUND: With such majesty on display, it could be easy to miss out on some of the audio splendour. Grand in scale, the orchestral themes are so fitting for what is transpiring on screen that you almost forget it was (at some point) designed specifically for the game; the soundtrack is just so natural sounding. As you’d expect, the voice acting of Nolan North is on the money as per usual, but Richard McGonagal and Graeme McTavish nearly steal the show. Yet again the banter between characters is so engaging that you’ll truly feel as though you are Drake. The comedic beats are perfect, and Uncharted 3 never ends up feeling forced or cheesy.
GAMEPLAY: When we look back at Uncharted 3 in years to come, if there is to be a criticism that will be wheeled out, it will be that it doesn’t really do too much differently to the Uncharted games that come before it. The point worth remembering when doing so however, is that the gameplay in those previous games was some of the most satisfying, exciting and generally speaking, joyous experiences in a third person shooter to date. Taking Drake through all manner of locations, climbing incredible heights, causing insane explosions, and all the other things you’ve come to expect from an adventure with Drake, have never been so incredibly executed.
Sure, some of the enemies are still what you might term “bullet sponges”, but headshots are rewarded whilst wildly spraying bullets are punished. The melee mechanics have been honed even further to the point where it’s a wonderful experience taking on a few bad guys one-on-one, even reminding the player of the combat in Batman: Arkham City. Counters are fantastic, and you can get into some serious skirmishes with the enemies, mano-a-mano. That isn’t to say you won’t also love the gun-play though and with trophies for getting a set number of kills for each weapon, you can bet you’ll want to go back through and grab them all, because each weapon feels individual enough to warrant it.
The puzzle elements return in Drake’s Deception of course, though none are particularly fiendish (however, if you do get stuck and wait long enough you will be offered the solution to be revealed), but solving the puzzles is usually rewarded with story progression or yet another incredible vista to scale. As usual Drake has his handy notebook to help you out, and as usual you’ll end up playing with fire and water. Platforming is ever-present and is (as expected) excellent too. Fundamentally, everything you’ve come to know and love in the series to date is present and correct, from the run and gun shooting to the cover-to-cover combat, it’s just great fun. If you’ve never played an Uncharted game before you are in for a treat, with the gameplay some of the best available in a third person shooter anywhere.
LONGEVITY: The single-player campaign clocks in at around 9-12 hours on the normal setting, but there is no doubt that you will want to play it at least twice, you quite simply cannot take in everything the game has to offer first time around. There are numerous treasures (the collectables in the Uncharted series) littered across the 22 chapters, and because of the visual feast on display, even the players out there that don’t usually feel the need, may find themselves searching out every hidden treasure.
On top of that, there is the impressively in depth multiplayer of course. Naughty Dog have already stated that they’d rather make Uncharted 4 than put out single player downloadable content, so you can bet that the multiplayer modes will be supported for quite some time. If competitive multiplayer isn’t your thing though, there is some co-op for you. All told, Uncharted 3 is quite the value proposition, and will keep you busy for quite some time.
VERDICT: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is a triumph of storytelling, visual magnificence and aural bliss. I defy anyone to play through Uncharted 3 and not feel as though they have experienced something that they dreamt of as a child, to go to the wildest, most exotic locations and be the hero, shoot the bad guys, and climb the tallest buildings, it’s a dream come true and we’re playing it today.
To say that Uncharted 3 is one of the best games of its generation isn’t really praising it highly enough, because it is actually one of the greatest games ever made, on any console.