Review: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (PS3)

The games in the Uncharted series have always been crazy. It follows a crazy adventurer on his crazy adventures in search of some crazy treasure while being hunted down by gun-crazed militants. Uncharted 3 takes that crazy to a new level.

Uncharted, of course, is the definitive action-adventure game for the PlayStation 3. The third game in the series, subtitled Drake’s Deception, brings gung-ho treasure-hunter Nathan Drake off to find the lost city of Iram. He is once again aided by Victor Sullivan, who is more or less Nathan’s father figure and trusted companion.

Like the previous games, it still has the regular death-defying climbs, jumps and falls to give you your daily dose of vertigo, but it’s still no Assassin’s Creed, though you won’t really know when the next bar you jump towards to will snap under your weight. Solving puzzles is also part of the deal when entering secret chambers, and if you’re ever lost, the ever-helpful hint system will lend you a hand, although these aren’t necessarily all that difficult enough to bring the action game to a standstill.

The new melee combat system is introduced after Nate and Sully enters a London pub to watch their deal evolve into a pub brawl. It now allows you to pull punches with more than one thug at a go, allowing the game to show off more of its new fight animations. Quick-timed button cues scream at you to hit the button before you get countered or strangled by the enemy. You can also use nearby objects around the environment to knock the stars out of your enemies.

The stealth element to the game is much improved, making it less frustrating when following the less noisy route switching off enemies as you snap their necks over the counter behind them. But when punching enemies or bring quiet just don’t do, there’s always gunfights with the usual pointing and shooting accompanied with a good cover system. A new and very useful feature is Nathan’s ability to throw back grenades tossed by the enemy, stunning or killing them in the process. You can also combine a blend of the three and defeat enemies however you want.

The tear-free graphics are as spectacular as ever, even more, from every rendered footstep on the desert sands to every bottle-smash on a thug’s face. The game is wrapped around brilliant environments and the motion-captured character animation lets you see Nathan run clumsily, push himself off walls or stumble exhaustedly in the sand to a new level of realism. (A shame we couldn’t test the new 3D capabilities.)

With its preceding games having set the bar so high, you may think this one is starting to fizzle out, but Uncharted 3 takes that bar and sets it on fire. There are action-packed over-the-top scenarios that blew my mind, like having to escape from a sinking ship, a burning chateau or hanging on to the end of a cargo plane while being shot at by overzealous minions who put their jobs ahead of their lives were all pretty crazy, and worth the exhilaration to experience it.

Nate’s journey will take him across France, Syria and Yemen. Along the way, we see the origin and the straining of Nathan and Sullivan’s relationship, which forces out quite a bit of emotion from the voice-actors. The story-telling also takes place over cutscenes and the more immersive controllable cutscenes that put you into the story.

Once you’re done with it, feel free to do it all over again to scout out all the hidden treasure scattered around the playing field or punish yourself with the Crushing difficulty mode. Of course, there are plenty of multiplayer modes to take care of, too.

Multiplayer offerings on the disc comes in the form of arena-based and objective-based games, which will require the redemption of the Online Pass included in the box. I spent most of the time engaged in Team Objective mode, basically because I don’t get shot by human players and the random objectives keep play fresh. If you’re afraid of online play, local splitscreen co-op and LAN multiplayer modes across the same network are also available.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is another fine work of game to the Uncharted series. The more than engaging story, action sequences and a dash of puzzle-based gameplay comes together to bring players an impressive title that is sure to please action-adventure fans. Expect the experience to be upped when the upcoming DLC packs arrive.

Graphics 10
Uncharted 3 shines again with its graphical detail. From Nathan’s river-soaked clothes to the walls creeping with fire.
Sound 9.0
Fully-voiced cutscenes and characters make the motion animation and mo-capped sequences come alive.
Gameplay 9.0
Plenty of action, gunfights and hands-on combat. The story offers plenty of twists that keep players on edge. Respawning to nearest checkpoint offers few frustrations.
Lasting Appeal 9.0
There are online multiplayer modes and the rest of the treasure players will have probably missed during their first playthrough.
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Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is a Sony Computer Entertainment game developed by Naughty Dog exclusively for the PlayStation 3. Played on Normal to completion. 3DTV features were not tested.