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

Game Name: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Platforms: Playstation 3
Publisher(s): Sony
Developer(s): Naughty Dog
Genre(s): Action-Adventure
Release Date: November 1st, 2011
ESRB Rating: T


The third entry into Sony’s Uncharted series hits stores this week, once again placing players in the shoes of Indiana Jones Nathan Drake.  Reviews have been popping up pretty consistently for the last week, and the game has received nearly universal acclaim.  As a matter of fact, the reviews have been so glowing that Eurogamer almost had a community meltdown when they posted their 8/10 review.  That’s right, an eight out of ten caused rabid fanboys to to call for the head of a reviewer.  Stay classy, gamers.

Expectations are ungodly high for this game.  The first two titles are among the best games to come out of this generation, and hands down a strong argument for the Playstation 3.  We’ve already heard from Andrew on his thoughts, and now you’ll find mine after the jump.

Uncharted 3 is great.  Really, really great.  Gorgeous, well written, fun, an amazing combination of elements that form a very unique experience that stays with you.  Hell, I’ve been talking about it for the last three days after I beat it, that’s how well it sticks with you.

I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything's soft... and smooth... Oh, Attack of the Clones, you're so eloquent.

It also isn’t perfect. We’ll get into that after the good.

Lights, Camera, ACTION!  If there is one thing this series has always had a firm, unyielding grip on amazing action sequences.  Uncharted 3 is no different.  Without being specific, you will traverse caves, sand dunes, burning buildings, ancient temples, giant boats, airfields, and much, much more.  Almost every chapter has a unique moment contained within, from the opening bar brawl through an exhausting trek through the Rub’ al Khali desert, Uncharted 3 brings some of the most mesmerizing and cinematic moments ever seen in a video game.

I let my fists do the talking. Uncharted 3 attempts to shake up the hand-to-hand combat found in the other titles, and it does a decent job.  Unfortunately, the game doesn’t feel as tight for combo based combat as say, oh, the recent Rocksteady Batman games, but it definitely isn’t bad.  This is partially alleviated by making the system somewhat forgiving, even humorous.  Drake takes a punch, stumbles back, quips, and recovers awkwardly, like it is all part of the plan.  Contrast this to a system like Ninja Gaiden, where one false move means death.  It is mainly little tweaks, such as the ability to grab one-off weapons during a combo for a quick attack (such as a wrench or beer bottle) that all add up to breathe a little life into the fisticuffs for this latest go around.

Hello, beautiful. 
Goddamn this game is pretty.  Colorful, bright, vibrant, all these things make the colors of Uncharted 3 stand out.  It is rare that you see realistic looking games that are this colorful.  From the brilliant yellows of the desert sands to the cool blues of an ocean port, this is one pretty game.

Adventure time!  One of the greatest strengths of this series is the moments between the action.  I’m not talking about recovering your health and ammo, or the cutscenes that occur throughout the levels; I’m talking about the actual exploration that happens in all the Uncharted titles.  There are moments in this game where you get to explore temples, rotting chateaus, and even the London Underground, and in these moments you get to admire the work of the artists behind the scenes, you get to learn the environment, and most importantly you learn about the characters.  These moments are rare in most action-oriented titles (when was there an abundance of quiet moment in Call of Duty, for example) and help differentiate Uncharted 3 from most of the AAA titles hitting this month.

It’s the story, stupid.  Few franchises have such great characters.  Drake, Sully, Elena, and even Chloe are all great characters; they are well written, well acted, and fully realized characters, which makes them an oddity in the world of video games.  Hell, the main reason I play these games is to experience the story, a statement that testifies to the strength of the storytelling on display here.

Who am I kidding, I don’t have friends.  Returning to the franchise are multiplayer modes, both cooperative missions and competitive arenas.  I don’t think the multiplayer is as fascinating as the single player, but it is certainly popular on the PS3.  This time, there are now boosters and kickbacks (think CoD’s perks) thrown into the mix, but the standout changes here revolve around the levels in my mind.  Few games actually place a cutscene in the middle of their matches, yet somehow Uncharted 3 not only manages to do this AND make it something you are anticipating.  The Airstrip level sees you and your teammates battling for the cargo hold of a massive plane that will take off.  You have to jump from car to car to plane, all while battling your enemies.  Eventually, the plane closes up, and a cutscene triggers in which both teams arrive at the second portion of the level!  It is so insane, it comes across as genius.  Airstrip isn’t a gimmick, either; there are other levels in which you will transition from one area to another, mixing up the game before it is over.  Very cool.

Alright, so what isn’t perfect.

More of the same.  Uncharted 2: Among Thieves took everything found in the original game up to the next level.  Drake’s Deception, however, only manages to polish what Among Thieves accomplished.  Is it slightly disappointing?  Sure.  Is it also absurd to expect a major overhaul to such an amazing title?  Probably.  This is like complaining that while The Godfather 2 is a fantastic film, it is only slightly better than The Godfather (which is the truth).  The point is, both titles are amazing, and they certainly blow away most of the marketplace.  It just would have been nice to not have so many moments of deja vu (I’m looking at you, convoy sequence).

Watch out for the bugs.  There are two types of bugs in this game: giant spiders that try to eat you and the unseen ones that cause you to stumble on nothing or (in one very rare case) get stuck in a rock.

Step around the holes!  For a game so focused on story, there are a few plot holes that bothered me.  Don’t worry, I won’t spoil them here, but all I’m saying is there are several moments in which the narrative moves so fast that it leaves a few mysteries unanswered.  While there are some intentional ambiguities that work, there are a few plot points that get lost in the shuffle, and I’m unsure if these gaps were planned.

Really, you should buy Uncharted 3.  It is well made, beautiful, and a rare title that reaches cinematic heights while still remaining a fun game.  If you own a PS3 and even moderately liked the other titles, pick it up.  Just expect it to be great, not perfect.

This is a shot from the multiplayer. That's not a typo.

Uncharted 3 is available now, exclusively on the Playstation 3.  For this review, the game was played through to completion on Hard, mainly because Eric is a BAMF.  He also played several rounds of multiplayer and contributed very little to his teams. 

  • Anonymous

    When are we going to play some multiplayer?

  • Dustin Hall

    Only 4.5/5? Bring me this man’s head! *Rabble rabble! Rabble rabble rabble!*