That which is not broken needs little to fix it, but a tiny bit more polish might have been nice
Oh Naughty Dog. You had all the pieces to make Uncharted the greatest gaming trilogy ever, and just fumbled it ever-so-slightly at the final hurdle. How can a game be so damn good, yet still feel lacking a little something? When it’s part of a series as good as Uncharted. Uncharted 3 is the next adventure of Nathan Drake – part time thief, tomb robber and treasure hunter, as learned and feisty as Indy but as smartass and wisecracking as John McClane. Naughty Dog have brought us another action platformer in the same mould as previous games – one part classic Tomb Raider (sorry, but it is), one part Gears of War and 3 parts massive Hollywood blockbuster. Which is to say, it’s really bloody good. Gamers can expect more of the same here, but with new settings – as with every new Bond film, each Uncharted upstages the last with locations and scope, and for the most part, Drakes Deception does a fantastic job. Ranging from a backstreet London pub, a Syrian fortress and the deserts of Yemen, to set pieces in a ship graveyard and on a plane in flight, Naughty Dog have really gone for it with the scenery, and it pays off as Uncharted 3 feels the biggest game yet. Visually, the stunning graphics of Uncharted 3 have been surpassed again, with locales having a depth of detail and lack of repetition that breathe life into the cities and character into every face. It’s all so believable, and Drakes interaction with anything he goes near is incredible – fights will adapt to whats at hand, and Drake himself bounces off of walls and doorways in an incredibly believable fashion. Just try one of the several chase sequences to see what I mean – the corralling on a set path is nearly imperceptible, because you are too busy watching Drake slam doors into peoples heads as he runs past, or ducking the random gunfire spraying in his direction. It rocks. Then we move onto the sound, which simply maintains the high standards set before – every character interacts and responds in a way that puts many summer blockbusters to shame. There’s real warmth and affection between Sully and Drake, there’s thinly veiled remorse between Drake and Elena, and there’s even genuine contempt and hate between the games antagonists and our heroes. It’s just brilliant, and as the story progresses, you fully feel the effects of what’s happening to the characters – there’s even reference to the set pieces of previous games. The bad guys are a bit flat and lacking clear motives (I still don’t really know why they are after the final McGuffin), but hey, it’s still dressing on which to hang some truly great storytelling.
If you have a Playstation 3, you need this game
So, on to gameplay, and here, although the wheels most certainly don’t come off, there’s a touch of wobble in the axles which could have been averted. For all it’s shininess, Drakes Deception is still as unerringly linear as previous titles, with only one way to go to progress. Comparisons with Tomb Raider are actually off here, as the depth of puzzles and progress is more shallow than the adventures of Ms Croft, with the game only just stopping short of marking where to go with a big neon sign. Combat is the same as ever too – cover based shooting is the order of the day, and whilst it’s good, it’s not going to set the world alight. It’s further compounded by the lack of enemy variance, and the foolish decision to ramp up difficulty as the game progresses by merely sending more waves of enemies at you as you go, instead of perhaps creating a bit more variety in the types of enemy you face. The shame is, there’s every chance that a bit of planning could have really elevated Drakes Deception to Game of the Year – certain sections (such as the ship graveyard) get the balance so right it’s blinding, and as you scale the rotting hulks of iron while fighting off dirty pirates the feeling of epic achievement hits peaks most games only dream of. The problem is for every high there’s two “not-so-highs” to match it – later levels dump waves of gunners at you across tight courtyards, and it only just stays the right side of frustrating. One final gripe – the last third of the game is 100% carbon copied from the previous game – I’ll avoid the spoilers, but if you’ve played Uncharted 2, you’ll know what I mean when you see it. I even managed to predict what would happen and when, and the wrapping up of the story is a bit lacklustre. I could well believe the ending was rushed to hit a deadline, which is an immense shame. Uncharted 3 also ships with a co-op mode and multiplayer, both of which have offline and online modes. Co-op takes five levels from Uncharted 2 and 3, and lets up to three players work together to reach the end boss – it’s fun, if a bit quick to die of repetition. Multiplayer instead allows for team based action, and is far better – most game types offer 5 vs 5 combat with objectives ranging from the simple (first to reach a set number of kills) to the more complex (capture the flag, hold the territory, keep hold of the treasure, etc.). It’s a lot of fun, and with the now-obligatory ranking and unlocks, has some legs to it. It isn’t going to tear most players away from the looming MW3, but is a fun diversion once you’ve beaten the main campaign. But, for all my moans, Uncharted 3 is still an excellent, well rounded adventure story with some truly mind-blowing moments. It surpasses many other action adventure titles out there, and only just falls short of being something truly incredible. If you have a Playstation 3, you need this game – newcomers would perhaps miss the little nuances of the character interaction, but would still enjoy the rollercoaster ride that only Naughty Dog seem capable of in the current market. It is, after all, still a brilliant episode in a fantastic series.
The Bad: Combat is still a bit flat; enemy types have little variance; final third is a straight rip of Uncharted 2;
whilst still very good, doesn’t add anything new; Multiplayer will only last until the launch of MW3