When we last saw Nathan Drake, he was following the trail of Marco Polo’s lost fleet with his mentor Victor Sullivan, his fellow fortune hunter Chloe, and his current love interest Elena. In this latest adventure, Drake is wrapped up in a conspiracy involving Sir Francis Drake, T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia), a secret society which dates back 400 years to Queen Elizabeth I herself and the fabled “Atlantis of the Sands”, Iram of the Pillars, which is lost in the middle of the Rub’al Khali Desert.
Uncharted 3 has again set the bar for console games. Naughty Dog has crafted a game full of life with the characters bickering and chatting throughout each of the chapter as they interact with their surroundings, giving a running series of fun commentary about situations and occurrences within the game. I was stunned how life-like the dehydrated Nathan Drake looked as he stumbled across the desert, from leaving tracks and depressions in the sand to the sand particles that cover his hair and clothes, it all looked very realistic. The environments themselves look even better, thanks to the small details put into each level that makes them feel as realistic as ever.
While the game still focuses on climbing walls and shooting bad guys, it has been taking above and beyond anything that was already done in the series. The epic moments you have come to love in the series, are fully interactive, with you controlling all of Drake’s action. One chapter has Drake stowing away on a cargo plane one minute, to getting blown out of the gaping hole as the plane begins to break apart in the air and crashes over the desert the next. Uncharted 3 is chock full of these epic scenes, but you will just have to take my word for it, as I refuse to spoil the moments not shown in released footage yet.
One of the major complaints of the previous games has been the lackluster hand-to-hand combat system. Naughty Dog has listened and Drake is now able to take on multiple foes at once, counter with a simple click of a button and get locked into and out of grapples. Near a table with a bottle? Drake will pick it up and smash it over the enemies’ head because it is all context sensitive. Stealth kills are still in the game and play a bigger role this time around. There are a handful of sections where stealth is the preferred method of getting from point A to point B, although you can choose to go with guns-blazing Rambo style, if you so desire — Just be warned as this will alert a whole lot more guards to you than if you traveled silently.
Although the combat feels loose at times and lacks fluid animation moving from foe to foe, it’s really a minor complaint, and the new combat system is a step in the right direction.
Enemies work together to try and flush Drake out of his protective cover, while trying to flank you at the same time. Stay in cover too long and expect to see a few grenades tossed your way. Thankfully you are able to toss the grenades back by hitting Triangle at the correct time. There are moments where the A.I. will run in circles before getting back on a path, or end up hiding right next to you up against the same piece of cover. It had me laughing at some points, as it took me a few seconds to realize who it was right next to me.
In search for the “Atlantis of the Sand”, Drake will travel across the globe from ancient, deserted ruins in the sand, to a Renaissance chateau, and to a lost underground city — All of these locales are interconnected to the story of the secret kept hidden by Sir Francis Drake. If you were a fan of the different chase sequences in the series, you will not be disappointed as there are plenty that have Drake not only running away from danger where he is running towards the camera as everything begins to fall to pieces around him, but has a few actual chase scenes, still running through the environments, but sans all the destruction.
The puzzles throughout the game all feel varied and enticing, but not overwhelmingly challenging, as the hints are readily available in the journal Drake carries around. One minute you will be mastering the flow of water; the next has you creating shadow figures on a wall to line up with an ancient mural.
The fantastic voice acting, which is a staple in the series, keeps you entranced in the story and characters, as it really helps to bring them to life. These moments will have you sitting on the edge of your seat, not being able to put the controller down. Not to mention the fantastic musical score throughout the entire game. From the moment that the main theme started playing through the surround sound I was hooked.
Except to see a variety of enemies types throughout the game, which present you with different strategies on how to defeat them. The Brute-like characters tower over Drake, and face off against him in hand-to-hand combat. These fights rely heavily on the counter attack to assist you in dropping them down to your level.
If you were familiar with the Uncharted 2 multiplayer, you will be able to instantly pick up and play a round of the competitive multiplayer. The game still has the standard Team Deathmatch and Plunder game modes along with a 3v3v3 Team Deathmatch and Team Objective, which plays out with changing game rules throughout the match. Characters this time around have a higher range of customization that can be done. Each of the main weapons can be upgraded by unlocking mods such as faster reload speed or an increase in clip size. Each person is able to select two boosters and a metal kickback. These boosters will help you throughout each match such as being able to sprint longer, or the higher chance to get unique treasure. These boosters can also be leveled up, simply by using them through out the matches.
There are dozens of clothing items to be unlocked for use with your custom character. Not only can you customize your Emblem, but also each clothing item can be recolored. Collecting the treasure in the matches could yield you a unique treasure item. Collect an entire set and you will unlock an item or weapon to use, such as Drake’s AK-47. These special weapons will have much better stats than the regular versions. All of these additions to the multiplayer will keep players unlocking new things and keep them moving towards the next goal. Not to mention the announcement of future DLC plans, with a pre-paid package already on PSN Store, can you say Donut Drake?
Naughty Dog has listened to the feedback from the Subway multiplayer promotion and has fixed many of the concerns that players had with it. The environments still have the thrill and feel that an enemy could be lurking around every corner or possibly above or below you! The levels are as vertical as they ever have been — jumping across gaps or climbing to the level above you is a great way to lose pursuers or get the jump on the enemy.
The Uncharted series will no doubt go down in history as the games that truly defined this generation. From the way Drake exudes interactive and life-like body language — touching walls as he passes by or the way he looks around the environment as he runs past the various locales and people — he brings a much more realistic feel to the game. Naughty Dog has gone above and beyond anything they have done in the past with an intriguing story line, upgraded combat system, simply amazing environments, a 3-player co-op, which has its own mini-storyline spread across five chapters and a highly competitive multiplayer scene. Uncharted 3 is simply an experience that must be played by everyone, with a campaign that clocks in a little over 7 hours hours on Normal difficulty, but from the narrow escapes to the plot twists, this is the pinnacle of gaming and have no problem going through it again and again.Note: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception was reviewed on PlayStation 3. A physical copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.