Uncharted 3: Drake's DeceptionTHE GOOD: -gorgeous graphics -beautiful, detailed environments -smooth control scheme -interesting character/plot development -additional features and bonus content -admirable collection of challenging trophies -online multiplayer and split screen options -very high replay value
THE BAD: -frequent hints make parts of the game too easy -(very rare) glitchy moments
When given the option to choose between a 160GB PlayStation 3 console with no game and a console with double the storage space and a game for only $50 more, any sensible person who can afford to pay up the extra cash will go with the latter. This was the scenario I was in upon deciding to add the PS3 to my gaming collection, and I went with the bundle. The game that was included was an installment in the PlayStation's "signature series": Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. Being third in the procession, I was a bit skeptical to start the game right away, but was too impatient to wait to purchase and play through the others, so I decided to dive right in. In retrospect, I'd like to thank my impatience.
"Well, of course it's genuine."
An example of the game's beautiful detail
Up until this game I haven't had the pleasure of seeing a PS3 exclusive in full 1080p HD. Mind = blown. Let me just say that the visuals in this game are absolutely stunning. The colors are rich, the sound effects realistic, and the in-game graphics can be confused for a cut scene... that is, until you see how they somehow managed to make those look even better. (Drake's eyes in the cut scenes... Ahem.) But yes, attention paid to small details such as indents in stone, ripples in water, and lasting clips on the ground after reloading makes you feel like you're really there experiencing all the action for yourself. I can honestly say this is the most beautiful game I have ever laid my eyes upon.
Greatness from Small Beginnings Good news for those of you who kick off the series with this game: the story is easy to follow whether or not you have any knowledge of the previous installments or if you haven't played the prequel (Golden Abyss). There are a handful of references to the previous titles but nothing you won't be able to make sense of- if anything, they're actually helpful. The story is unique, focusing on the origins of Drake and his relationships as he and his crew search for the lost "Atlantis of the Sands". Although I'm sure gamers doing a sequential play through of the series probably appreciate the character/plot development more than a newbie, it is certainly something to be enjoyed.
Of course everyone loves Nathan Drake and his bad-ass smartass-ness, but the other main characters brought a lot to the table themselves. I found myself almost immediately attached to some of them because of how real they seemed. Each was their own individual, whether they be a
A cut scene depicting the bonds between characters
comedian or a scaredy cat, and they will leave you laughing (or crying) all the same. On the other end, the villains in this game are so despicable you'll find yourself wishing your fist can punch through the TV screen and straight into their faces. Although, it's kind of strange with how much of a detriment Drake is and all thee opportunities they have had to kill him, how they never really acted to the fullest. It's also strange how they ALWAYS manage to find Drake and Sully even when they're in ancient grounds that it took them a lot of work to uncover. I suppose all I can really say is well... because video games. After all, these people manage to escape burning buildings from the bottom floor, blood thirsty bugs, and an entire army versus up to four people. You can go in expecting some realism from this series (there's no magic or flying etc.) but don't go in expecting it to be like things you can do... or anyone for that matter. So kiddies, don't try this at home.
"This gonna take long? 'Cuz if it does, I'm going to smoke a cigar." UC3 is an easy game to settle into. The game's menu screen has a nice, simple layout. You can access options with the click of a button and easily select a game mode or any of the bonus content. You are able to choose which chapter you would like to play, on what difficulty (there are 4 levels- easy, normal, hard, and crushing) and it shows how many treasures you've collected in a per chapter breakdown (there are 100 total in-game). This easy interface makes Uncharted 3's replay value peak in that you're able to replay any part of the game at your convenience and easily keep track of anything you may have missed. Expect a good 10-15 hours of game play per run through of the campaign, but this guesstimate can of course vary depending on many things. You also have access to each cut scene (each featuring a creative title) and extras like game artwork and DLC.
"There must be some sort of mechanism..."
Uncharted 3's control scheme
Sony has kept the same controller design since the PS1, and with good reason- it's a great controller with the exception of slight alterations, most noticeably to the trigger buttons, the controller is has exactly the same layout as the DualShock One. The triggers are now curved downward which can cause your finger to slide off, so I was a bit worried the gunfights would suffer from this. Fear not! Naughty Dog developers were smart enough to utilize the R1 and R2 buttons to aim and shoot, making the gun play as smooth as possible and incredibly comfortable to partake in. Their expertise in user comfort is evident, which is important for smooth game play. Five stars for the control layout, which by the way is customizable if it by some chance doesn't suit you well.
"Same cocky little shit. So fearless..." I can't really say many bad things about this game because it truly only falls short of perfection. I suppose I'll just nitpick. While the control layout is near perfect, I found (especially during fistfights) that some button commands won't register, such as pressing triangle to counter attack. Either that or it requires super precise timing, but it's nothing too trying.
Another minor complaint stems from a common problem in modern games- too much simplification. If you take too long to advance in the right direction or to solve a puzzle, a hint prompt pops up that you can activate by pressing up on the D-pad.You don't HAVE to press it, but it's annoying to have it flashing in your face when you want to take your time and explore. It seriously only gives you a minute or two then triggers. Fortunately, you can disable hints from your in-game options menu, but the game bypasses your wish through Drake. He has the obnoxious tendency to state the obvious or just blurt out what you have to do without warning. Isn't that the point of a puzzle or complex maze, to figure it out yourself? And of course, most of the jam-packed games of today have their fair share of glitches. I've only run into two or three instances where Nate died because the grip action failed to initiate. Like I said, nit picking.
"Hold on a sec. You weren't... you weren't gonna shoot me, were ya mate?" Such as in this review, Uncharted's campaign mode gets so much praise that it often overshadows everything else, namely the multiplayer and online play. I deeply regret that I waited so long to try the online and that the only reason I did was to write about it here because the Naughty Dog developers really outdid themselves. I don't have online experience with earlier games to compare it to, but sources say its a huge step forward from its predecessors. If you're one of those people who have this game and haven't tried the multiplayer yet, GET OFF YOUR ASS AND GO TRY IT NOW.
There are four options for multiplayer: online, LAN party, online co-op, and split screen co-op. (Extra brownie points for the split screen mode, which seems to be a dying art in modern gaming.) In the same-console modes, each individual player is able to log in and level up their own characters which is really convenient. As
Pre and in-game examples of the online multiplayer
soon as you enter multiplayer, you are taken to the main menu screen which displays your options, current stats, and "Uncharted TV", which is a neat little window in the bottom right-hand corner that keeps you up to date with the latest Uncharted news (you can mute it if you choose). From this screen you can find or create a game, update your profile/options, view your friend information, or visit the store. You can also take advantage of social networking integration by connecting your Uncharted profile to your Facebook page.
Let's begin with your profile. I couldn't believe the amount of customizable options you have, especially for your character- you can pick from heroes, villains, and favorites from other games in the series (after you unlock them of course). It's so interesting to scroll through the choices; they even have donut (fat) versions of the characters. Most of them have different costumes to choose from and can be a challenge to unlock but will keep you playing. You can also choose a taunt for your character and customize their load out with your favorite guns (and new ones), as well as give yourself a fancy clan tag and/or emblem. Not satisfied with the massive amount of options already available to you? Check out the store, they've got you covered.
The gameplay itself was surprisingly very smooth. Even a year after its release I was able to find a game in almost no time with a full team of players and no lag. There are many different game modes (Team Deathmatch, Free for All, Objective, etc.) and the maps are taken directly from the campaign and given a twist which makes for familiar fun. You can easily view game statistics and player info in-game, switch your load out, or quit if you must. It plays a lot like what you would expect a FPS to play like, except it looks a hell of a lot better and has one of the best control/battle schemes. I've seen. It's definitely something worth checking out; I didn't even scratch the surface.
"I see great things in our future, kid. Great things."
A screen cap from the game's ending
I'm more of a casual gamer than anything, rarely completing a game before I loose interest or run out of time to play it consecutively. I am proud to say that I completed a basic run-through of the game's campaign in a little over a week, not because the game was easy, but because it was good. I couldn't put it down. I plan on replaying it on higher difficulty levels and trying to collect all the little treasures.
The subtitle for this section is a quote from Sully during a flashback before he took Drake under his wing, and he was right. This game was more than enough to get me to want to purchase the previous titles (which, by the way, you can get in a convenient bonus pack) and I can certainly see why this series is referred to as the PlayStation's signature series. Despite its few flaws, this game earns a perfect score, not just from me, but from other critical sites like IGN. It's seriously worth getting a PS3 for. See for yourself how great this game is, and let's hope it's not the last we see of Nathan Drake and his crew!