Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Review

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (Available exclusively on PlayStation 3)
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1-12
Genre: Action adventure
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Naughty Dog
Release Date: November 1, 2011
PSN: Online Multiplayer

Parent Talk: Uncharted 3 is rated T for teen because of violence, alcohol use and mild blood effects.  Given you spend most of the game blowing away hundreds of enemies with realistic weapons, but there’s no gore, the rating fits perfectly.

Plays Like: The previous Uncharted games. Many other action adventures have since copied this formula.

Review Basis: Finished the campaign on Hard. Played several co-op games and a lot of online multiplayer.

Nathan Drake returns in one of 2011’s best games. While not as dramatic a jump from Drake’s Fortune to Among Thieves, Uncharted 3 is every bit as entertaining.  If you’re a PS3 owner, we hope you’ve been paying attention to Uncharted, the system’s flagship series. Uncharted 3 is the must-play 2011 PS3-exclusive.

The Great:

You don’t just play the characters, you live them.  The motion capture technology Naughty Dog employs is what makes this series so incredible.  It’s also the little details.  While walking, Nathan might notice something off in the distance that isn’t obvious, yet move his head accordingly to clue you in for a better look. Sometimes he’ll trip, despite the player not provoking it, or touch a nearby ledge to balance himself.  These elements make the characters more human-like than in any other game I’ve played.  It’s astonishing.

The Good:

+ Fantastic story. By now you should know the drill.  Drake is looking for treasure in some far away land which somehow ties in to his past.  All the twists and turns the series is known for return for an incredibly rich plot.

+ Joyful interactions.  How the characters relate is a delight. The banter that occurs throughout the game will have you chuckling.

+ Animations.  It’s not just when you see Drake holding onto something for dear life, but the way he walks around, grabs enemies, etc.  I’ve never seen a game look this good.

+ Superb soundtrack with old favorites and new tracks. The orchestrated music is nothing short of breathtaking.  I actually purchased the songs online; they’re that good.  Emotional, exhilarating, and thrilling best describe Uncharted 3’s music.

+ Refined CQC. Nathan can now auto-interact with the environment for melee combat. If you’re fighting near a window and lock up with an enemy, you might be able to toss them through it. Or perhaps a locker, which Drake can open and smash the enemy’s face into it. These moments happen so fast and are so responsive that you can’t help but be impressed each time.

+ Integral stealth on the higher difficulties. One reason I play Uncharted on Hard is because it forces you to think. There’s little more exciting than slowly creeping towards an enemy with a powerful shotgun, popping out behind them and breaking their neck.

+ Mostly untouched gunplay.  That’s not bad since the pop-and-cover mechanics work just as well as Drake’s last outing.  The weapon variety offers different degrees of firepower.

+ Challenging puzzles.  A few times the game stumped me, and I needed to wait for it to hold my hand for a solution. That’s because I’m a moron though; most of the puzzles are ingenious.

+ Limited, but excellent platforming.  Some of Uncharted 3’s best moments deal with the wonderful platforming. As Drake leaps from a ladder to an outcropping, the ladder might give way or the rock will potentially crumble under his hands.  Moments like these inject so much excitement into the experience that you’ll wish there was more platforming.

+ Sensational co-op.  There are three modes. One has teammates working together to stop a relentless onslaught of enemies. Another is two-versus-two where one team tries to steal treasure as the opposition is charged to stop them. The best is the adventure mode, which has you tackle combat-centric campaign-inspired levels.  Sometimes one player must lay down suppressing fire, as the other goes in for silent kills. Whatever the case, there’s no shortage of players online.

+ Competitive online multiplayer.  U3 builds upon Uncharted 2’s already-excellent online multiplayer with a much tighter experience.  The expected modes are here, but the run and gun over cover emphasis makes the experience unique and enjoyable.

The So-So:

+/- Tried-and-true formula, but it’s at times a little too familiar.  Don’t mistake me, the gameplay is sensational, but it’s more or less Uncharted 2 in terms of puzzle-solving, be surrounded by enemies, watch a cutscene, repeat. Is this bad? No. But it is starting to get a little repetitious.

The Bad:

– AI.  Sometimes enemy behavior is spot-on, but on the higher difficulties they somehow spot you even when Drake is in cover. X-ray goggles perhaps? Other times your partner(s) sit around, waiting for you to kill everyone. Wasn’t that my strategy?  These instances are few and far, but do happen.

The Ugly:

Witnessing someone’s face be smashed into a wall in slow motion, then pitched over a cliff to their death.  Ouch!

The Lowdown:

Sure U3 is a lot of the same: excellent gameplay, tight combat, great cover, superb storyline…you get the idea. Nonetheless, these elements make Drake’s Deception the best PS3 exclusive of 2011.  I can’t recommend it enough for fans. This is another GOTY contender, and one you should already own.

Average Score Scale: 9.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 9.5/10 (Inflated)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: Do you like the Indiana Jones films? This is as close as you’ll get to playing them.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: If you’re tired of Uncharted’s solving puzzles, being attacked by swarms of enemies and cutscenes.

2 thoughts on “Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Review”

  1. Thanks Pat. This is a great game, and one I hope every PS3 owner goes out there and picks up. I’m just wondering how Naughty Dog can mix things up next time so the old formula stays original. I personally don’t want to know ahead of time what to expect. Know what I mean?

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