Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
After the superlative Uncharted 2, expectations for Uncharted 3 were sky high. Naughty Dog has a reputation for surpassing themselves but with so many amazing set pieces packed into Uncharted 2, it was always going to be a tough act to follow. Drake’s adventures has taken him to some pretty exotic locations and epic confrontations so when that familiar orchestral theme song came blasting through the speakers, I was ready to be amazed by what Naughty Dog had in store for me.
The game opens with some shady deals and double crossing in a London pub before cutting to a flashback where we get to see how a fourteen year old Drake met Sully for the first time. It doesn’t have quite the same impact as a massive train crash but the pace quickly picks up with visits to a French Chateau, Syria and Yemen. All the familiar faces like Drake, Sully and Chloe are back as well as some new ones. The villain is someone from Drake’s past and while she lacks the menace of Lazarevic or Roman, she knows how to push Drake’s buttons and make for a formidable adversary with her army of agents.
Uncharted 3 sticks very closely to the template established by the last game, which at times can make it feel almost too predictable. Making your way into some long abandoned temple or ruins almost always culminates in hordes of bad guys showing up, the place collapsing and a chase sequence. This doesn’t make it any less impressive however. The game has its fair share of epic moments involving sinking ships, cargo planes and horseback riding but I don’t’ want to spoil any of these.
The game is still a mix of cover based shooting, platforming and puzzle sections and I found the latter to be quite enjoyable. I actually wish that there were a few more puzzle sections as it felt like there were less of these than before and more of a focus on the shooting. Not that there is anything wrong with the action but it can become a bit irritating at times. Enemies are generally suicidal and will rush at you, knocking you out from behind cover in order to engage you in hand-to-hand combat. While this is happening there friends with the sniper rifles will take pot shots at you. If you manage to get away you still have to content with the hail of grenades raining down on your position. It makes for tense combat but on anything above “Easy” enemies are armored bullet sponges.
The game encourages you to use stealth but if your cover is blown, every enemy in the area will instantly know exactly where you are. Fortunately the restart points are well spaced and it never felt like I had to redo too much once Drake bit the dust at the hands of yet another walking tanks shrugging off my bullets. There isn’t much enemy variety and your foes consist of what looks like agent rejects from the matrix, pirates and relatives of Ghostrider. The latter is particularly annoying but thankfully they do not overstay their welcome. It definitely felt like the game was a lot keener on hand-to-hand combat and every time a bare knuckled fight broke out you can be sure that some big bruiser is going to show up. These guys can only be taken down with a flurry of punches and some quick time event button mashing.
Controls work well for the most part although the cover can feel a bit “sticky” which is a hassle in the middle of heated combat. Drake can still only carry two weapons with him at a time but the ground is usually littered with a nice assortment of firearms during battles. While Uncharted 3 is still very linear, as was the previous games, this isn’t really a problem and keeps the action and narrative flowing smoothly. The game can be accused of many things but being boring is definitely not one of them. The voice acting is once again superb and the cast does a great job bringing their characters to life. The game also includes some split-screen co-op for the first time and the online multi-player has been vastly improved. An online pass is required for multiplayer but as of 2013 this part of the game has gone free to play.
Despite some small issues, I had a lot of fun with Uncharted 3. Unfortunately, I couldn’t shake the feeling that things might have been rushed towards the end. For all the very impressive set pieces, it never quite reaches the level of awe that I experienced with Uncharted 2. Maybe it is because the PS3 hardware is pretty tapped at this point which resulted in visuals which were not quite such a leap up from Uncharted 2. If you are a fan of the series you should be able to overlook some of the issues but hopefully Naughty Dog will shake up their template a bit for any future adventures that might await Drake and his friends.
*Review originally published 2011.