Review: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Review: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PlayStation 3).
“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their mind wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible.”
Your adventure in Uncharted 3 begins with this famous quote from Lawrence of Arabia. After reading the quote, you’ll immediately feel excited, this is going to be an epic adventure. The music, the scenery, it all makes sense. But will we be able to act our dream with our eyes wide open? Will it be a beautiful dream or more like a nightmare? Let the adventure begin.
Uncharted 3 doesn’t really start off that fast. For some it may be frustrating that you won’t be able to dive into the action and start shooting the bad guys. In this third episode of the legendary PlayStation franchise, the creators choose the emotional story telling above the action. One of your first missions will be a flashback from Nathan Drake. In this flashback you’ll get to know the story and bond between him and his mentor and friend Sully. It reveals so much more about the characters and you’ll feel even more connected to them than ever before. The only question that remains is, what are those two up to?
This time Drake and Sully are on a quest to find the Atlantis of the Sands somewhere in the Rub’ al Khali desert. It is said that you’ll find immeasurable wealth once you find this Atlantis of the Sands. That’s more than enough information for Drake and Sully and they decide to go on a search to find this mysterious city. It’s the perfect excuse to travel around the world and to introduce the nemesis of this story.
Your direct rival will be Katherine “Kate” Marlowe, who is best described as a coldly calculating leader of a secret society. Her goal? Following the trail towards the Atlantis of the Sands that Lawrence of Arabia left behind. To find it she needs two things. A mysterious decoder and the ring of Sir Francis Drake, a ring that nowadays Nathan carries around his neck. To evade her and the secret society Drake and Sully (who really come to life thanks to the splendid voice acting) try to solve the riddle on their own. This is a perfect excuse for a trip around the world where you’ll find beautiful but sometimes terrifying things.
The trip around the world is definitely one of the reasons why this episode never gets boring. One day you’re discovering an old castle in Siberia while on another moment you’ll find yourself lost in the jungle of France. Each location is chosen very well en shows us what made the Uncharted franchise so famous, beautiful graphics. The city, the jungle, the water on the sinking ship… It all looks marvelous but nothing can compare to the beautiful sand you’ll find in the dessert. What snow was for Uncharted 2, sand is for Uncharted 3. It moves very natural, sticks in Nathan’s hair and to keep it short it’s just something you haven’t seen before.
I could go on a few pages more about the details of the beautiful water, the way the light falls in between the trees, the way fire acts when a house is on fire. But Uncharted is still a game and besides graphics there’s still something more important. I’m talking about the gameplay.
The game will feel very familiar when you played previous episodes, Nathan still moves the same way and the controls didn’t change at all. There are however a few changes, some good, some not so good.
Let’s start off with the good: the hand to hand combat. Next to the numerous shootouts you’ll face, you’ll be able to fight your opponents using just your bare hands as weapon. Nathan has received a variety of brutal hand to hand combat moves. He can smash opponents against the wall, let them break their back on the floor or even use environmental items to hurt them. The hand to hand combat feels absolutely right and is very fluent. I caught myself risking my life to defeat my enemies with my hands rather than shooting them.
The reason why I didn’t prefer to shoot back then, isn’t only because the hand to hand combat has changed. It’s because the shooting gameplay also made a few changes. This brings us to the down side of the changes. Although you might expected an update of the shooting system from the previous games, it’s more like a downgrade. The creators tried to create a realistic feeling during the shootouts. This means that your aim won’t be stable and that you’ll have to move your joystick to keep your aim steady. This could work in a first person shooter but because Uncharted is a third person shooter it’s more like a setback. The shooting doesn’t feel fluent and you’ll always have to change your position of the joystick if you wish to stay alive. It’s a shame the game responds quite slow on the joystick. It’s not that bad but it gives the game an older feeling than let’s say more modern shooters.
Of course the game is so much more than a shooter, you’ll still have those stunning platform and puzzle segments of the game. The platforming works very well thanks to the flexibility of Nathan and the smoothness he has when he’s climbing on walls and other dangerous stuff. He often reminded me of Ezio, and that, you may take as a compliment. Typical for Uncharted are the cinematic events that mostly happen when your climbing. A pipe that breaks down, wooden floor that cracks when you land on it. There are millions of examples of little scripted things that makes this game more than thrilling enough to keep on playing. The cinematic sequences add some drama and adrenaline to the platforming.
The last piece of gameplay is the puzzle. Don’t expect hard puzzles like in the old Myst games but expect fairly easy puzzles. You’ll definitely will have to use your head (and Nate’s notebook) to solve to puzzle but they never are frustrating difficult. For a game like this it’s the perfect mix because you’ll have some rest after an intense shootout.
The adventure offered by the singleplayer campaign is something you’ll only find in Uncharted 3. The intense action, the cinematic story and the beautiful graphics all give you the feeling you’re dealing with a very special game. Uncharted is well told and although it’s not always that realistic (same huge spiders in Siberia and France, really?), it’s definitely fun an thrilling to play. I can honestly say that the singleplayer is by far the most complete and thrilling story I played in a game and is even better than Uncharted 2.
But nowadays, Uncharted isn’t only a game you’ll play alone, you’ll still have to discover the multiplayer.
The multiplayer aspect was first introduced in Uncharted 2. For this last episode, Naughty Dog tried its best to create an even more complete and outbalanced multiplayer experience.
The multiplayer is a game mode that easily could be sold as a separate package from the singleplayer. It’s not the typical Uncharted gameplay you’ll find here but it’s an amusing multiplayer to kill your time. Although it’s not that good as multiplayer modes from games like Battlefield 3, it still feels very complete.
First of all there’s a sufficient amount of game types you can play. Think about team deathmatch, free for all, an Uncharted version of capture the flag, Objective based gameplay and Three team deathmatch. Most of these modes you’ll remember from other games but Uncharted also have more unique modes thanks to the use of artifacts.
An example, one team has to move an artifact towards their base. It’s the task of the opposing team to stop that from happening. The trick? One of the two teams is helped by the powerful A.I. of bots. This makes the mode instantly more interesting and you never know what to expect.
Another thing that makes the multiplayer definitely worth checking out are the maps. Just like in the singleplayer you never know what to except. You can by example have an intense shootout in the dessert when suddenly a sandstorm occurs. This blurs your vision and makes it a lot harder to find your target. This is just one example of the interactive maps Naughty Dog created to make the multiplayer as interesting as possible.
Too bad they didn’t really succeed in creating a flawless multiplayer experience. The problem is that Uncharted never was or will be just a shooter. Uncharted is an adventure and in multiplayer the focus is too much on the third person shootouts. Because of that the controls don’t always respond as fast as they should in a multiplayer game. This can be very frustration for newer gamers but also for veterans.
Another point of critic is the amount of bullets you often need to spend on killing a guy. Sometimes it’s just not realistic when you shoot all your bullets on one target and get killed for your effort. It’s something you’ll also see in the singleplayer and definitely needs to be fixed by Naughty Dog, just like the spawn points. When you die you won’t be happy to respawn on an exploding grenade would you? And yet, this can happen in Uncharted 3. I admit that these mistakes are rather small and can easily be fixed with a patch, that I think, will one day release on PlayStation 3.
Something that’s absolutely positive on the other hand is the customization. You’ll be able to create your own character and emblems to recreate your own personality in the multiplayer.
Next to that you’ll also have co-op mission which you can play offline or online. These missions tells us stories from the Uncharted universe and are different from the singleplayer. You’ll come across with some very familiar faces in this game mode.
Uncharted 3 is a complete package with brilliant singleplayer mode and ok multiplayer. But let’s be honest, you’ll buy this game to experience the adventure on your own. Although there are a few little mistakes, nothing can stop this game from being one of the most thrilling adventures of the year. The locations and story are better than ever before and you’ll find yourself wanting more and more after each thrilling chapter. It’s definitely a must have for PlayStation 3 owners and possibly one of the best adventure games out there.
Game rate: 9/10