Uncharted 3 Review (PS3)

When it comes to treasure hunting, few games in recent years can boast as much success as Naughty Dog’s acclaimed Uncharted series. The second instalment, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, was well received for the stellar improvements in all areas that were made over first game in the series. With the release of Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception, it could be easy to be deceived into expecting the same vast improvements with every release, in which case, you might find yourself disappointed. Drakes Deception does not improve in the same leaps and bounds that its predecessor did, but what it does so, is tighten the aspects of the previous games, and use them to deliver a game just as fun and thrilling as the previous releases.

As in the previous games, the games protagonist, Nathan Drake, is hurled into a race for a long lost treasure. And like the previous games, the story’s twists and turns are made all the more memorable by the characters within it. Drake and Sully argue, and share in-jokes with each other, making reference to times past. In a similar way, the supporting characters and the way they interact with Drake, discussing their course of action, or commenting how little they want to stick their hands into a dark hole. The way each character looks, and sounds, and is portrayed ultimately helps you to become involved, drawing you into the tension when things start to become rough for them.

The opening chapter of Drake’s Deception does an excellent job at showing some of the new animations for close combat. It is extremely satisfying to slam your enemy’s head into the bar, or smash a nearby bottle over someone’s head as you fight off a group of angry thugs. The controls in these situations have been improved enough that taking on several opponents in a fistfight is doable, but these situations are perhaps not the brightest moments of the game, since you are limited in your approach, which is not to say these moments are not still fun.

Even when you are not limited to just your fists, it is still a joy to use them on gun-totting foes. There is satisfaction to he had from pummeling a bad guy with an assault rifle into unconsciousness. The new close combat animations make it more enjoyable than ever to set aside your guns for a moment, and take care of business personally. And for those moments when stealth is an asset, you can take care of your foes with a quiet snap of the neck, or more satisfyingly, by pushing them off the edge of a cliff or building. Your fists are also useful in those moments when you find yourself out of bullets. These fights finish off with a slow motion animation of Drake stealing the enemy’s gun moments after landing the final punch.

Naturally, fist fighting isn’t the only way to deal with the your foes. The levels of Drake’s Deception are designed in such a way as to give you choices as to your approach. In addition to the scraps of cover which dot the areas, there is a degree of verticality, which provides the option of going up, and over your foes, allowing you to get the drop on them while their attention is elsewhere. For foes that have taken cover, grenades are always an option to take them out, or perhaps a riot shield to deflect their bullets as you make your approach. These choices allow you to tackle most situations in a way that works for you, rather than forcing you to deal with things using one particular tactic.

As with the previous games, gunplay is also a large part of the combat in Drake’s Deception, even with your fists and the ability to climb around. The shooting mechanics have been improved so that is easier than ever to hit home with your bullets. The different ways to deal with your enemies allow you to pick and choose whether you want to hang back and pepper your attackers with bullets, or get in close and get your hands dirty in a fist fight. And there is little disadvantage in choosing one tactic over another. Dealing with your foes by taking a stealthy approach will give you the same chance of success as using an assault rifle to take them out while you stay behind cover. The differences lie more in learning how to use each one effectively.

Despite the ability to use different tactics, the enemy is not always a pushover. While it’s true that at times you can carve through enemies like a hot knife through butter, there are times when you will be forced to think about more about your approach, and it is at these times when things become all the more gripping. Enemies will move in for the kill when they realize you are out of ammo, try to flank you while your attention is elsewhere, or pin you down with sniper fire. Such situations may force you to try them more than once before get through them, but this challenge provides a huge sense of triumph as you overcome the odds.

It is not all gunfights and brawls, however. As in the previous games there are numerous platforming sections, requiring you to climb walls and jump over gaps. These parts can often be as exciting as the combat areas, as you scramble over ledges and up walls that are crumbling apart. The downfall of these sections is that there is only one way forward. You can’t climb a wall that doesn’t have handholds, for example. And of course, when you are not shimmying across rotten wooden beams, or fighting off enemies intent on doing away with you, you will be solving the puzzles dotted throughout the lost locations Drake explores. While at first some of these may seem unsolvable, as before, Drake has jotted down useful hints in his journal, and these hints ensure that the puzzles do not become game-stoppingly difficult, but serve as a change of pace from the rest of the action. The pace changes from sequence to sequence in a fairly seamless fashion, and even when you are finished your first play-through, the opportunity to replay through on a harder difficulty, or go back and search for the last elusive collectible treasures will still seem appealing to you.

Of course, the other thing that will keep you returning to Drake’s Deception is the games multiplayer modes. Co-Op is broken up into three modes, Adventure, Arena and Hunters. Arena has you and your teammate complete a series of challenges while under pressure from enemy attack. Hunters which is a 2-vs-2 assault style mode has more of a strategic feel to it, with the attacking team trying to steal treasure from the defending team. The defenders also get help from AI controlled teammates, which further adds to need for strategy from the attacking team. The final mode, Adventure recreates levels from the single-player story, minus any platforming and puzzle solving – what’s left is a hectic shoot-out as you and your friend’s progress through. Of course, you can still take care of things with your fists – just be careful not to get yourself killed, since lives are shared, and limited.

If you don’t feel like playing nicely with others, there is always the competitive multiplayer, which has been improved since Uncharted 2. Competitive matches feature the same approach to combat as the single-player story does, meaning that fists, grenades and sneakiness are all viable weapons to use. The matches are paced much quicker, though, meaning that if you spend too much time hiding behind the one piece of cover, chances are someone is going to get you. Kills reward you with experience and money, which can then be used to buy yourself new weapons and perks, which help to give you an edge in a fight. Though it can make things one sided when you have to deal with someone who has more powerful bonuses and weapons. In these moments, remember that there is hardcore mode, which strips things back to bare minimum, forcing people to rely on their skill and strategy, rather than the time they have invested online.

While it’s true that Drake’s Deception hasn’t grown in the leaps and bounds in the way that Uncharted 2 did over the original, there is still the same care and consideration that has gone into crafting this title. The game looks amazing; from it’s grand and sweeping locations, to the cramped and confined ones. These settings combined with the soundtrack, which seems to use the perfect piece for each given situation, help create a nearly cinema-like experience. Between the single-player campaign mode, with it’s thrills, laughs and other memorable moments, and the excitement of the multiplayer modes, Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception delivers what we have come to expect from the series, a finely crafted and enjoyable game.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

About the Author

I'm a student who, like many, spends more time studying games than my coursework. Games are a bit like food. You need to try as many different types as you can, otherwise you might miss out on something that you didn't even know that you liked.