Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Review
In most ways, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception isn’t all that different from Among Thieves or Drake’s Fortune. If you’ve played those games, then you know the deal: you’ll travel from one lushly realized locale to another looking for a bizarre ancient artifact, succeed in making impossibly vertical climbs, investigate ancient ruins, solve puzzles and shoot at your enemies. That doesn’t mean it’s a disappointment; fortunately, rather than simply reproducing what worked in previous games, Drake’s Deception also has a few tweaks, like improved fighting, dramatic departures from previous games’ conventions and the best environments yet seen in the series.
It also contains the most interesting premise in series history, and if the slightly uneven story doesn’t quite live up to that premise, the as-expected witty dialogue, surprisingly mean sense of humor and some amazing mocap and voice acting make up for it. The result is a game that isn’t quite perfect, but is ahead, by leaps and bounds, of all but a few you’re likely to play in this or any other year.
It’s just that it comes so close to perfect, and then veers sharply.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (Playstation 3)
Developer: Naughty Dog
Release Date: Nov. 1, 2011
As I said above, you’re going to do a lot of what you’ll do in any Uncharted game, and first and foremost, that means platforming and puzzle solving. Puzzle solving remains essentially what it has always been, which is that it might be the series’ biggest weakness. Though the puzzles are always just hard enough to keep the player engaged in solving them without becoming frustrated enough to consult a guide, they’re never actually difficult. As if to emphasize that, Uncharted 3 contains some of the easiest puzzles yet, made even easier by the ability to activate a solution to a given puzzle after you’ve spent a certain amount of time without solving it. This isn’t a bad thing, exactly. The point of an Uncharted game, as I see it anyway, is to work your way through the story about solving puzzles, not necessarily to actually solve puzzles. It would be nice if they required a bit more effort, but if I have to choose between maintaining a thrilling pace and feeling like a brainiac gamer, at least when it comes to Nathan Drake I’ll choose the thrill.
The platforming aspects, however, are some of the most inventive and challenging in recent memory. Climbing works exactly as it does in the previous games, right down to the obvious “Hey Look At That Grab-able Ledge” handholds. But you knew that. The real question in every game is basically ‘how crazy can this get,’ and the answer is ‘very.’ Climbing levels may remain fairly linear, but they’re also tense, huge and extremely varied. I won’t spoil the whole thing, but just for a taste, you can look forward to escaping a burning French manor house, swimming and climbing your way through an amazing, must-be-seen-to-be-believed abandoned shipyard and shortly thereafter, fighting your way into a cruise liner serving as the flagship of a pirate fleet, only to have to quickly escape while it capsizes, constantly changing orientation.
What really distinguishes Drakes’ Deception’s gameplay are the changes Naughty Dog made. No, not the promised automatic ammo pickups which aren’t part of story mode, but the changes to melee combat and new ideas about what an Uncharted level can be like.