Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Review

Combat

The first differences you’ll notice are in the fight mechanics, which have been vastly improved. Fight animations in particular are considerably more varied. While Nate has always delivered a mean brawler punch, a kick to the balls or an elbow to the face, you get the impression that after the events of Among Thieves he’s taken some rather intense classes in mixed martial arts. Now he can grab loose objects (like hammers and beer bottles) and smash them over his enemies’ heads, throw people out windows and ram them face-first into walls and tables.

Better, Nate can now efficiently fight multiple opponents, thanks to the inclusion of Batman: Arkham Asylum-style counter moves. Standard attacks are still activated with the square button and you grapple with the circle, but hitting triangle activates counter moves that can be used at any point during melee combat. Which means you can begin a fight by putting your opponent off balance with a push rather than running up and punching them. The countermoves are also crucial in the game’s (thankfully rare) quick time moments, which mostly happen during certain mini boss fights (more on that below).

Drake’s Deception’s finishing moves are also excellent. Nate can leap down on enemies from a ledge, jump stairs to deliver a flying kick that knocks them out or, best of all, sneak up from behind and deliver a silent take down that is typically hilarious. In fact, improvements to silent take down moves actually make the limited stealth aspects of Drake’s Deception some of the game’s best moments, and a reprieve from the series’ more linear aspects. Players can now choose to methodically work their way through a level taking enemies down one-by-one, or simply start a balls-out firefight from the onset. These changes turn melee combat – in previous games a somewhat tedious interruption of platforming and shooting – into some of the most fun you’ll have playing.

Shooting remains largely the same. If anything, it could have used a few of the improvements Naughty Dog put into melee combat. The cover system works very well as it did in previous games, and the weapons remain as accurate and interestingly realistic as players have become accustomed to. The problem is that enemies’ difficulty is expressed mainly through relative indestructibility. This is true both in your progression through the game, and the difficulty level you can select for your game. No matter what difficulty level you choose or the stage you’re in, your enemies will commit to the same bone-headed swarming attacks or mad-dogging bullying that they always do. You’ll just have to unload more bullets to kill them. It would be nice if enemies were challenging because the AI has a chance of outthinking you, instead of simply being impervious to headshots.

There’s also an issue with commands being somewhat inaccurate. For example, you’ll occasionally have to try jumping to the same ledge again and again because the controller thinks you want to go in a different direction. More annoying is that the triangle button controls not only counter attacks, but picking up ammo, grabbing a replacement weapon, and tossing a grenade back at the enemy who threw it at you. This means you might intend to stop an enemy from punching your teeth out but end up replacing your extremely useful Dragon Sniper with a pointlessly powerful sawed off shotgun instead. Or worse, you might mean to grab that stray grenade only to acquire more rounds for your pistol and get killed feeling like a chump who can’t run away from an explosion.

Levels

Fortunately, these are mostly minor problems. And they’re easily forgotten The best changes involve the treatment of levels. Horseback riding has already been confirmed, and yes, the sequences when you’re leaping from horseback to truck and back again, or fighting your enemies while hanging off the side of your mount, are awesome. Better still is a level consisting of Nathan’s panic after being drugged that is extremely reminiscent of Psychonauts. That paranoia and confusion is later revisited in a brilliant 10 minute sequence when you essentially spend 3 days of in-game time being lost in a desert, subject to dire thirst and severe hallucinations.

The fact is, again and again Uncharted 3 is distinguished by incredible digressions and subversions of your expectations. Mostly.

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6 Comments on Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Review

JosephPS3 Herman Cain 4 Pres

On November 1, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Great review Ross. I want to get this game but I just don’t have time to play it with all these great titles coming out in a cluster. I’ve read your review a couple of times and I decided I’m going to have to get it and check it out. It’ll be a nice contrast going from Dark souls to Batman to UC3 and soon to Skyrim.

Hey can you develop multiple personalities if you play multiple games simultaneously?

Tom Jenkins

On November 4, 2011 at 9:26 am

Admittedly there are some spectacular moments in Drake’s Deception however I found the storyline and gameplay to be lackluster and even flawed in places

For example at the very end of the game when Drake finally wins an opportunity to thwart the misanthropic endeavours of the enemy

Rather than playing that most triumphant moment in the game there is a cut scene showing Drake hiding, diving and shooting

I could understand the cut scene if it portrayed a sequence of complex actions beyond modern gameplay mechanics

But taking control away from the player at that moment in order to portray regular actions borders on hubris

And gameplay is not enhanced by shaky cameras and swirly hallucinated environments

A shot should be difficult because of distance, obstacles or enemy counter-manouevres

For example in Uncharted 2 there is an awesome scene of a snowy courtyard populated by four heavily armoured enemies with the biggest guns in the game

The only way to beat this level is to use stealth to conceal your position and take each enemy down in series with several doses of rocket launcher

That is what gameplay means to me

Not extended cutscenes, swarming enemies, button mashing fistfights and shaky cameras

It grieves me to say that Naughty Dog really dropped the ball with this release :-(

sam2k11

On November 6, 2011 at 8:56 am

i think the game is quality and fantastic but it was just a bit to short i mean i know 22 chapters is a lot but it was 26 in u2 also i was disapointed with the fact elena and nate were not together properly after the end of of u2 it ended with them nearly kissing in u1 and then u2 starts and elena is completely forgotten then she comes back into it halfway through u2 then it ends with them both kissing and then in u3 the same thing happens all i would like if there is going to be an unacharted 4 i think it should have lots more chapters for lots more gamplay i mean i got it went on it for about 3 hours then went on it for an hour in the morning and i completed it . also they need to put a bit more effort into elena and nates feelings about each other coz know in u3 i think when sully gives that ring to nate he wants him to propose and then elena hugs him and then all three of them leave on a plane together and would really like it if cutter was in the next one again along with chloe i kno ive waffled on a bit but this is what i think properly havent explained it as well as in my head

sam2k11

On November 6, 2011 at 9:11 am

I think uncharted is a quality game in fact its my best game on the ps3 but what disapointed me with uncharted 3 was how long the campaign last i mean 22 chapters is a lot but it had 26 on u2 so its gone down i think it needs more chapters because uncharted is better for its campaign not for multiplayer so if there is an uncharted 4 concentrate 75% on the campaign and 25% on multiplayer. also i was kind of gutted that nothing happened with elena and nate except the end (king of foudnd the end confusing did nate propose or waht hope he did anyway.) i mean they never even kissed all the way through the game and showed there feelings for each other i mean you would of thought they would be a serious couple by now after the end of uncharted 2 mean thats why i was partly excited about uncharted 3 because after the end of u2 i wondered what will nate and elena be like in u3 (maried/serious couple) and then it ends up with well you know hard to explain. but besides that quality game and i hope they keep making more and more uncharted series its a top class game.

bajka.bajko

On November 30, 2011 at 8:27 pm

I think uncharted is a quality game in fact its my best game on the ps3 but what disapointed me with uncharted 3 was how long the campaign last i mean 22 chapters is a lot but it had 26 on u2 so its gone down i think it needs more chapters because uncharted is better for its campaign not for multiplayer so if there is an uncharted 4 concentrate 75% on the campaign and 25% on multiplayer. also i was kind of gutted that nothing happened with elena and nate except the end (king of foudnd the end confusing did nate propose or waht hope he did anyway.) i mean they never even kissed all the way through the game and showed there feelings for each other i mean you would of thought they would be a serious couple by now after the end of uncharted 2 mean thats why i was partly excited about uncharted 3 because after the end of u2 i wondered what will nate and elena be like in u3 (maried/serious couple) and then it ends up with well you know hard to explain. but besides that quality game and i hope they keep making more and more uncharted series its a top class game.

Lee

On November 14, 2012 at 11:46 am

Just got to say that I thought Among Thieves was by far the better game when I originally played this. But recently I decided to have a blast at playing all three games again and when you play this directly after number 2 you realise that its just a better game.

Now don’t get me wrong the story and OMFG moments are not as good as Among Thieves but the gameplay itself is much better.