Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Nathan Drake is back for more shenanigans in one of the most cinematic games to come out this year.
When going through life, you come across some people you can call acquaintances, some you can call drinking-buddies and some you call friends. In 2007, I came across a few people. Adventurers, treasure hunters, daredevils, thrill seekers. They became acquaintances. In 2009, they became friends. Of course I’m talking about Nathan Drake, Victor Sullivan et al. The first Uncharted was a really good experience but Naughty Dog upped the ante in 2009 when the sequel, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was released. The set pieces were bigger, the shooting was tighter, the storyline was more enthralling. So, when it was announced that there would be a third game in the series, the internet blew up. Naughty Dog had a tough act to follow.
Without spoiling anything, the main story of the Uncharted games, follows a common pattern. It is about treasure hunting. Drake and his right hand man, Sully, go all around the known (and unknown) world to track down treasures and riches that would make Del Boy faint. Uncharted has a number of great supporting characters that go along for the ride with the two best buds as well. Drake’s Deception is no different as, Nate and Sully try to track down a lost city, believed to be in a middle Eastern desert.
The visuals are breathtaking. There are certain areas of the game where Nate is climbing up things, or walking across vast plains and the camera pans out to show the player the sheer enormity of what Drake is traversing. These moments are some of the most glorious I have ever seen in video games, full stop. At times, I found myself putting the controller down as I thought I was watching a cut scene when really Naughty Dog was just using poetic license with the camera as the gameplay continued. The big Hollywood style chases and explosions are here once again and are again mesmerizing. Naughty Dog has once again etched their name in stone as arguably the best developer when it comes to graphical achievement alone. However, I think the leap from Drake’s Fortune to Among Thieves was a lot bigger than Uncharted 2 to U3. Among Thieves seemed to “wow” me a bit more than U3 did. I don’t think this is the fault of Naughty Dog though, I just think that they were trying to top something so stunning that it was always going to be really hard.
The visuals are Hollywood as I said, the music is no different. Greg Edmondson has composed the music for the entire series, creating an instantly recognisable theme tune akin to Zelda, Mario or Sonic. It adds gravitas to the whole thing. The mark of good score is that it becomes secondary when it needs to. When the music needs to just sit in the background, it does so, whilst also creating the moments of tension that only music can do. The voice over work is also top notch. But what else would you expect from an Uncharted game. Nolan North as Drake is in top form adding in little quips when needs be and Richard McGonagle is also a worthy second to North. The supporting cast all play their roles well along with new additions, Katherine Marlowe being my favourite villain from the series as Rosalind Ayres perfectly captures the British lady that Katherine Marlowe should be. I found myself laughing out loud at times and also feeling sympathy at all the right moments.
I’ve said I’m following the series since the beginning and to me that is pivotal. Each game in the Uncharted series has its own contained story, however it’s more like episodic content. If you’re only a casual player of the series, some of the little nuances will be lost on you. There are relationships within the universe that have been growing since the beginning, which is why it is a joy to see some of the supporting cast return in U3, along with a host of newbies. Some of these new characters stand out more than others, in particular Charlie Cutter, the wise-cracking Cockney “geezer”. However, one little thing that grinded my gears whilst playing the story was the inconsistency of certain characters’ interaction with the story. They come, they go, they come back, and they might go away again…and sometimes without explanation. The narrative is Uncharted’s bread and butter, which is why it’s a shame to see little things like this take from the experience. There is nothing new to the story in Uncharted 3 as it follows a similar formula to the others, but even though it follows that similar formula, I found it a more engaging story than previous iterations.
One area where I found fault with the game, is the gameplay. Yes, the GAMEPLAY may be the one area that this GAME falls down, as silly as that sounds. The shooting isn’t as good as Gears, the melee isn’t as good as Batman and the puzzles, in most cases, are a sinch. But I’m not saying it’s terrible, because it isn’t. Yeah, at times the aiming is a little bit erratic, but the gunplay is still rather fun and with as many weapons as there are in Uncharted, I found myself going back for more and experimenting with different guns. The melee isn’t as good as Batman, as I said, but c’mon, that is a game BUILT on melee, so that’s not really fair. Truth be told, I think the melee in U3 is the best of the series, it’s not a chore to take on a number of enemies with your fists and the death animations are just plain cool. The puzzles however have seemed to get easier and easier as the series has gone on. They provided very little challenge to me, not because I’m a member of MENSA or anything…which I’m not, they just seemed like a little stop-gap in between the “shooty bits”.
I’m sure fans of multiplayer games will stick to their COD or Battlefield when they want to shoot random people from around the world, but they should also take a look at Uncharted 3’s option. I’m not a massive fan of multiplayer in games, that’s just not how I get my kicks. But Uncharted 3 has many competitive multiplayer options along with co-op. Basically, even after the storyline, you have so much to keep you entertained in the complete package.
Yes Uncharted has its flaws and I’m not ignoring them whatsoever. But even with said flaws, this is a real piece of gaming mastery from all at Naughty Dog. I’ve watched my friends blossom over the past few years.