The Average Gamer

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – Single-Player Campaign Review (PS3)

Uncharted3_LogoUncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is the latest in Nathan Drake’s ongoing adventures. Ever since the end of 2007 when the first game was released, the Uncharted games have been showered with awards and sold million of copies. So Naughty Dog have a hell of a job on their hands to make Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception to top the brilliance of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

It’s apparent that Uncharted 3 continues Naughty Dog’s incredible ability to produce games that look jaw-droppingly stunning. The quality of graphics and technical prowess on show is just amazing. My in-game stats showed that I spent over 1:30 hours standing still out of the 9:30 hours I took to complete the whole game. I’m surprised the figure is so low as I must have stopped at least 3-4 times per chapter simply to gaze at the beautiful graphics.
It’s not just the level of graphical detail and the lighting effects that are so impressive but also the variety of environments. You have hot, dusty, crowded Syrian levels with their bustling bazaars, a tropical and fiery (literally) French Château and dark and gloomy London amongst the places that you get to explore.

I don’t want to spoil bits of the game for you, so I will just say that the water effects are the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in a videogame. From a technical, graphical and gameplay point of view, Naughty Dog have modelled and harnessed the power of water in a way unrivalled by any other developer. You’re probably thinking what the hell is he talking about, but once you’ve played the game you’ll see what I mean. Trust me. You are in for quite a ride.

One of the many strengths of the Uncharted series is its ability to make you feel like you are taking part in an epic adventure, particularly through the use of cut scenes to develop the plot. In Uncharted 3 these are better than ever. The motion capture, facial detail and animation on show is utterly fantastic and it is complemented nicely by the acting.

You can clearly see the familiarity, companionship and rapport between all the characters. Moments of sadness, pain, tenderness and playfulness are apparent from the way they act. In the case of the main roles, these are actors that have been working together off and on for nearly 4 years and it shows on screen. Especially with Nathan and Sully. Here is a father-son relationship that has been developed over the previous two games and takes centre stage in this third adventure. In stark contrast to the abject tedium of Metal Gear Solid’s cut scenes, Uncharted’s sequences are always engaging and beautiful to watch.
The gameplay on offer is the same shoot, run, cover, avoid grenades, locate hidden switches/items from the previous games. The only major change is to the hand to hand combat system. Drake is now a lot more punchy. Right from the start Drake has to fight his way out of trouble. I would often kick the crap out of enemies if I was running low on ammo or running straight at them with fists flying just for the hell of it. It is incredibly satisfying to punch the lights out of a guy whilst at the same time stealing his gun.

One of the new enemies is called The Brawler. His name is a bit of a giveaway as he can only be defeated by punching and kicking him into unconsciousness. Even with all the fights and brazen gun battles – of which there are many – there is scope for the occasional stealth take down. It’s not quite Metal Gear Drake but it makes a welcome distraction.

Uncharted 3 is not a perfect game by any means. The overall pacing of the game is terribly inconsistent, ranging from fire-fights that made me want to throw my controller across the room in frustration to some seriously dull moments. I can think of one entire chapter that should have been a cut scene rather than some aimless walking from A to B with the occasional button press.

The reliance on trial and error to progress through certain areas was another annoyance. The nature of these particular sequences pressure you into making split-second decisions which most of the time will result in you falling off a ledge, missing a hand hold or jumping into an abyss. It was almost as bad as playing the Amiga game Another World in parts.

The game also suffers from being too over the top – much more so than in previous games. Whilst spectacular, the various environmental effects interfere badly with the game. At times Uncharted 3 was like trying to play a Michael Bay movie. The massive explosions and shaky camera played havoc with my aiming and after a while got quite annoying. Fortunately, these moments were short lived as the relentless fast-paced nature of the game meant I didn’t have time to dwell for long in any particular location.
Uncharted 3 is a without doubt a technical and cinematic masterpiece. I never ceased to be amazed by the graphics, the amount of action on screen and movie-quality cut scenes. This is the best looking PlayStation 3 game ever. The major set pieces – cruise liner, cargo plane – are truly spectacular but even with all this action, at its core Uncharted 3 can’t match the quality of gameplay found in Uncharted 2. The game feels unbalanced as you are hustled through an array of stunning locations and set pieces. I simply wanted more time to explore and enjoy the world that Naughty Dog have expertly brought to life rather than being yelled at my companions to get a move on.

The single-player campaign is a breathless adventure full of action that never lets up until the end credits are rolling. It is great fun to play and even with its flaws, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is a game that should be in every PlayStation 3 owners collection.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is released on the 2nd Nov 2011 on PlayStation 3.

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