Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Review
It is not an understatement to say that Drake’s Deception might be the best looking game ever released for PlayStation 3. The series has always boasted incredible environments and dazzling set pieces, but in scene after scene, Drake’s Deception tops anything Naughty Dog has previously delivered.The aforementioned abandoned shipyard is a particular standout, but the entire game is practically built on “hey would you look at that.” I spent several minutes just looking at the London skyline during the first part of the game.
The scale is, as expected, the biggest in series history. Ancient mechanisms the size of office buildings are routine – apparently the engineers of the Levant during the last millennium B.C. had access to far better technology than the crew currently rebuilding San Francisco’s Bay Bridge. Somehow, a vast city is hidden in plain sight in the Arabian desert. 3000 years of neglect doesn’t cause the collapse of entire buildings and of course, undiscovered monsters somehow haven’t been featured on Animal Planet.
What stands out, however, is the incredible detail. Grains of sand blow across the screen and the air vibrates in the arid heat. Ocean water washes huge, green waves against rusty iron constructs. Fire burns with a realism seldom seen in games and shadows are deep, rich and realistic. All of this is a continuation of the achievements of previous Uncharted games, but it’s not hyperbole to say that the series sets a new standard of graphical excellence – at least on consoles.
While mainly superfluous compared to the heavily story-based single player campaigns that have made the series legendary, a big surprise is Uncharted 3′s multiplayer, which is surprisingly fun and varied. That’s especially true when you consider the horrible multiplayer beta from last summer that is notable mainly for being completely unbalanced, buggy and tremendously unfun.
First, players can choose to play online, or create a LAN party and bypass the Playstation Network altogether. (I’ll assume like me that you’ll be playing online). Once you’re logged in, you can choose to play 9 different types of multiplayer games:
* Team deathmatch
* Free for all
* Team objective
* Three team deathmatch
* Co-op arena
* Co-op hunter arena
* Co-op adventure.
As for play itself, while matchmaking isn’t as hand-holding as I’d like – the only way you’re going to avoid being placed into games with at least one level 40 player who will romp all over you is to create your own party – I found it did an excellent job of ensuring a varied group of players keeping things competitive without being as gallingly unbalanced as the beta. It helps that the new boosters – upgraded abilities you can purchase as you rank up – are insanely useful. There are 30 of them to select, 2 of which can be used in any given game. Once purchased, they can give you a tremendous advantage over lower-ranked players, thanks to nasty little surprises like getting the last laugh on the person who killed you by dropping a grenade as you die. Heh.
Kickbacks, short term boosts that make you temporarily more badass, are also pretty cool. There are 19 of them, and unlike boosters, you don’t need to level up and purchase them. Instead, you get them by earning medals during multiplayer. They include cool stuff like the ability to vanish in a puff of smoke, additional weapons carrying capacity and the sudden granting of a powerful weapon. Like I said, cool stuff.
Player character customization is also pretty cool. As you level up you’ll unlock new characters and clothing that can be purchased using the money you’ll earn in game. It allows you to put a cheesy trucker hat on Sully, or play as Chloe, and though these customizations don’t really add much to the actual game, they give you something fun to think about as you play.
Also worth mentioning are the wonderful maps, drawn from both in-story levels and a few unique places. They’re huge and capture something of the scope of the story itself. That’s especially true during team objective missions. They’re also very well designed to facilitate competitive play. It is impossible to camp out and cheese your opponents to death, which forces players to go looking for trouble, as it were. It makes for intense games that typically end by kill count far before the time limit is reached.
Overall, despite being completely unnecessary to fully enjoy Drake’s Deception, the multiplayer is a fine addition to the game that compliments the main story rather well. And good news: play it enough and you’ll also find that the story campaign gets much easier.